Inward circumcision

In him you have been circumcised, with a circumcision performed, not by human hand, but by the complete stripping of your natural self. This is circumcision according to Christ.

Source: Colossians – Chapter 2 – Verse 11 – New Jerusalem Bible

Margaret Fell also wrote about the complete stripping of ourselves.

Friends, deal plainly with yourselves, and let the eternal Light search you, and try you, for the good of your souls. For this will deal plainly with you. It will rip you up, and lay you open, and make all manifest which lodges in you…. Therefore all to this come, and by this be searched, and judged, and led and guided.

Margaret Fell, 1656

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Toward living water, worship, Spirit & Truth

My devotional reading today was from John’s gospel.  Chapter four starts with Jesus meeting a woman at a well in a town in Samaria.  I actually read the notes in my study Bible this time.  They led me to this history of how the Jews came to disrespect Samaritans:
….every nation still made gods of its own and put them in the shrines of the high places that the people of Samaria had made …. They also worshiped the Lord and appointed from among themselves all sorts of people as priests of the high places, who sacrificed

© 2014 Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

© 2014 Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

for them in the shrines of the high places.  So they worshiped the Lord but also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away.  To this day they continue to practice their former customs.  [1 Kings 17:24-41 NRSV]

So the woman at the well was a pantheist.  Jesus is a Jew, Continue reading

That all may look forward, abide in the simplicity of Truth

More than the well-known postscript of the letter from Quaker elders gathered at Balby, I can use the following these days:

Let us all, in the simplicity of Truth…. abide and dwell, and in the liberty [wherewith] Christ Jesus has made us free, stand fast; that we be not again led back into the errors of those who went before us, who left the power and got into the form, who brought in that darkness which has so long covered the face of the earth, that no footsteps may be left for those who shall come aLook forwardfter, or to walk by example. That all they may be directed [by] and left to the Truth, in it to live and walk, and by it to be guided. That none may look back at us, nor have an eye behind them; but that all may look forward, waiting in the Spirit for the revelation of those glorious things, which are to be made manifest to them.


THIS letter was presented and read at the General Meeting at Skipton, the 5th-day of the eighth month, 1659; and was by all Friends owned and approved, and agreed to be observed; and copies thereof to be sent to all Monthly Meetings.

“Pearls Before Swine” is useful for correction and training in righteousness

Five years ago, I blogged about moment to moment discernment–staying in touch with the Inward Guide.

Patricia Loring has cued me in on the prospects for discovery over a lifetime of a feeling and sensing way of discernment. “Earlier Friends, ” she writes, “often spoke of  ‘feeling after’ Truth…” (Loring, P.  1999. Listening Spirituality:  Corporate Spiritual Practice Among Friends.  Openings Press.  p. 73.)  This is different from the clear life leadings (career, marriage) with which God has shaken me in my boots and brought me to blessings beyond any I could expect.  This is practicing moment-to-moment reliance on the Spirit to help know which street to take or which coat to wear.

To find my way through these choices, I think, I center, I observe how I feel, I sense what kind of pressure there is in my midsection and I notice the results of the choices that are made.  I can’t say how led from without or within I am, but I’m not sure it matters.

What clearly does matter is faithful reflection and consideration of what happens and how it feels.  And being thankful for the blessings we find along the way.

I was reflecting on this subject yesterday in worship.  More was opened to me.  Continue reading

Advices from a Superhero

As the Central Friends (middle school age group) of North Pacific Yearly Meeting gathered to open their 2014 annual session, they began Superhero with legible advicesto formulate what they refer to as a code of conduct.

It was written on paper pulled from a recycle or trash bin and torn into scraps, each with an imperative sentence attributed to a different superhero from comics and popular culture.  The scraps were taped to a human form, half-kneeling, made of clear plastic packing tape which had also been salvaged from a disposal bin.  The sculpture was winged.

Friendly neighbor.

Be yourself.
-The Hulk Continue reading

If Meeting is a Muscle, Quakerism is a Full Workout

In his recent guest post at Gathering In Light, Chad Stephenson concluded:

Often Quakers lament the way teens or young adults drift apart from their Meeting. In our school [San Francisco Friends], it is in middle school when choice and freedoms to decide that meeting is “boring” is met not with an “oh-well, that’s adolescence” but with a call to better engender education. Practice through using silence as an opening to class, to meetings, and even actually teaching what good worship feels like and what good ministry sounds like articulates what Quakers believe in an accessible, developmentally appropriate way. Curiosity, scaffolding, and engagement will build the muscle of worship.

I am encouraged by the possibility of education as one way to stem this tide among Quaker youth. Young people who have learned well and practiced regularly will know its value, whether they choose to use it now or later in their lives. One teacher colleague spoke in ministry recently of how a student who grew up going to Quaker schools years ago but hadn’t attended a meeting since leaving had asked her to share silence with him when they met just to have the experience again.

Quaker meetings provide the element of faith and practice which schools can only touch upon. The power that we are offered in Meeting should be offered to youth in developmentally significant times, so they feel included and valued. Roles for them in leadership, finance, care for other children, and other capacities bring them into closer practice and ownership of the Meeting. As we hold them closer, they will take a closer look at how Quaker values of “that of God” in everyone is a both unique and powerful way of worship that they can join us in.

This morning, as I was hiking on a local hill,

“Further Along” by -Wink-, courtesy of Commons.

“Further Along” by -Wink-, courtesy of Commons.

I thought that if meeting is a muscle and Chad has suggested some exercises for its development, then what would the workout be for the full body of Friends practice and faith? Please excuse my stretched metaphor. I’m a teacher of physical activity and fitness.

Indeed, recent reflections on several blogs about teaching Friends’ faith have touched a resonant chord for me. I’ve been seeking ways to initiate youth into Quakerism since it was opened to me last Spring that, “We have no coming of age ritual in Quakerism. No first confession and communion, ba(r)t mitzvah, or vision quest. Perhaps our older children need an experience that marks that.” Continue reading

Toward a network of Friends practicing discipline

Meeting took a blessedly long time today.  Worship, twilight meeting, introductions (brief info beyond names from each of us this time), announcements (Feeling domestic, I skipped out and laid out some of the Pajama Walkingpotluck.), conversation, one child’s play (Pajama Walking, scene one), potluck, followed by the most anticipated event–for me, at least.

This last happening was a first effort by the whole meeting toward a report on the state of our Society.  We drew from a hat and read what different Friends have written in response to two prompts:

∙    let us ask the Inner Light to show us what in our individual spiritual practice is strong, and
∙    what could use more encouragement and support…

Ten Friends showed up;  others wrote brief answers, but didn’t come.  To me, this seemed a good way to begin.  It’s personal.  It’s introspective.  It asks about our spiritual practice.  It’s reminiscent of some of the first Queries, such as, “How, among Friends, did Truth advance since last Yearly Meeting and how do they fare in relation to peace and unity?”  This annual report on the state of the Society is what some Friends seem to have adapted from the practice of more frequently minuting answers to the queries. Continue reading

Simplicity and learning transfer

I found a lesson one Saturday last summer, but the learning didn’t crystallize until two days ago.  The Greek Orthodox Church in Beaverton held their annual festival on a day when I was in Portland helping Linda set up for dye workshop.  Helping her leaves me free to roam in the cIcons, screen and carvingity or its surroundings during the middle of the day.

I went to the Greek festival for the food and dancing, but there found the booth where the Orthodox clerics explained their faith.  One of their deacons, named Innocent in the church, was open to drawing contrasts with my faith.  We spoke for fifteen or twenty minutes.  He mentioned that he’d be giving a tour of their meeting room and a talk on their form of worship later. Continue reading

Quaker politics as a game of Tip It

My name’s Jay and I’m a television addict.  I watched a great deal when I was a kid.  Some of it still rattles around in my head.  Not the “programming” so much.  I’m a good student, so I remember the main point of the TV productions.  The marketing.

Perhaps you, too, remember, “Stop!  Now you can pour a beautiful floor.” Or tTip Ithe Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots!

In the 60’s the kid shows advertised a game called Tip It.  Players took turns placing weights on a platform, balanced in the center on a small fulcrum.  Whoever made the platform tip too far lost.  I never owned or even played the game, but, thanks to the TV spots before my eyes, I remember how to play it and how much fun it must be.  And how much I would be missing out by not nagging my parents until they got it for me.

When I sat down in a sparsely attended meeting for worship yesterday, half the attenders were on one side of the room.  The other half (plus one) of us on the other.  A bunch of chairs and empty space were in between.  Then from my rattling head pops out the image of Tip It.

The meeting room in Corvallis is hexagonal.  The ceiling beams come to a point above the middle of the room.  Above there’s a windowed cupola which sheds light on us sitting below it.  I wondered if we were balanced on a point in the middle of the floor, or hung from the top of the cupola, which way would the whole thing swing? Continue reading