Now there are bumps in the still place

My wife and I have been driving for two weeks: Joseph, OR. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison River. Fort Collins, Colorado. Yellowstone. Camping along the way:  Southern Idaho.  Eastern Utah.  At the bottom of the Black Canyon.  On a street outside our nephew’s apartment building.  In the boondocks of northern Colorado, eastern Idaho and eastern Oregon.  Home day before yesterday.

Corvallis Ride of Silence 2013

Ride of Silence yesterday evening. I coordinated and led,  seeking a still place inside me below the details of pace and regrouping.

I must have found it, because this morning I feel it every time I seek it. Just as still and sure as ever. But this time the still place has bumps and jiggles, with a sensation of traveling.


For at least a half hour of this morning’s worship, I wasn’t fully comfortable.  I had volunteered to oversee the meeting for worship and had arrived barely before the appointed Worried facetime.  I’d not had time to open the overhead window its usual crack, or to turn on the ceiling fan.  The lack of air circulation put me to sleep for a while.  My throat was dry, as I’d left my water bottle outside fastened to my bicycle.  I was not in a sufficiently spiritual state.  I was tired from working hard and with too much adrenaline at quarterly meeting yesterday.

Close to the end of meeting, the Lord inwardly admonished me not to fret.  I was sufficient for God to address.  My throat, the atmosphere, my energy were all enough for God to reach through to find me.

This reassuring message of sufficiency and competence is the message of gratitude.  As I begin to pray, it helps to be thankful and acknowledge the blessings of life that surround me. Continue reading

Technology for learning. Technology for worship?

I’m looking forward to volunteering next month with Bike First, the Portland affiliate of Lose the Training Wheels.  We help people with disabilities learn to ride two wheeled bicycles.

The teaching I do there is quite different from my usual work in the school year.  The teaching system at these bike camps was founded on the insights of a mechanical engineer.  It relies on some very cleverly designed machines A roller biketo do the teaching.  Had it been designed by teachers, it would be focused on the interaction between cyclist and teacher, rather than the interaction between cyclist and bicycle.

Bike camp is a unique experience for me.  There’s nowhere else I practice my teaching craft that my own personal style is so clearly secondary to another element in the learning relationships of students, skills and objects.

Because of  the reliance on the innovative machines, limiting the curriculum to just one skill set, and limiting the students to those who can walk, keep feet on pedals and want to learn this skill, we succeed at a high rate.

I reflected on this on Sunday morning.   Is there a technology to teach the insights and skills of silent worship?  Quakerism is not something I believe so much as something I practiceContinue reading

More Conversation

John, the first time I read through the second chapter of your Journal (1743–1748), I didn’t have much reply.  My own state of heart was pretty barren.  On this second time through, I’m finding some reflections in my own life.

I had a great regard for him, and felt a strong inclination, after matters were settled, to speak to him concerning his conduct in that case; but being a youth, and he far advanced in age and experience, my way appeared difficult; after some days’ deliberation, and inward seeking to the Lord for assistance, I was made subject, so that I expressed what lay upon me in a way which became my youth and his years; and though it was a hard task to me it was well taken, and I believe was useful to us both.

That’s an experience I have had, though less and less as I age.  I’ve heard it referred to as “youngering.”  Sometimes, those who have less status or fewer years have a clear role in reminding their elders of the Guide and principles that they profess to live by. Continue reading

Dozing, sensing and discerning

I escorted my wife this foggy  Sunday morning on the way to Portland.  She was teaching a fabric art class at A Common Thread.  I was planning to worship somewhere in the Portland area, then attend a threshing session with Multnomah Friends Meeting on the revision of Faith & Practice.

I wasn’t sure where to worship.  When out of town, I often want to try something new.   A Google search for ‘agnus dei Portland’ yielded little.  Somehow, I figured out I wanted Imago Dei Community.  The website told me it met at the wrong times.  I didn’t want to walk in late when I wasn’t sure I would even remain.  [Be patient, this involved story is leading somewhere.]

My best choices seemed to be arriving on time to West Hills Friends, where I had visited twice over the past dozen years, or arriving late at Multnomah.

She drove.  I dozed.   By our arrival at the site of her class, I knew I wanted to arrive on time and stay awake at West Hills.  That felt a better option than arriving late and sleeping in the back of the farther away silent meeting.

Mike‘s message at West Hills invited us to live in faith that God will lead us through our lives in this new year–moment  to moment, obviating the need for rules to live by.

During the worship following, I found myself reflecting on discernment.  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. Continue reading

on Judgement and Acceptance

This morning’s prayers were filled with understandings of love and fear, judgement and acceptance.

For about a week, I’ve been consciously struggling through my obsession with issues at school.  It’s the start of the year, there’s much to think about and work overflows and preoccupies too much space in my life.   Unconsciously, this just happened from Labor Day or before until about a week ago.  I’ve been aware of it since then, praying and finding some healing.  Long term, I’ll be OK, I’m sure.

School is a place of judgement, sorting and evaluation.  This affects students powerfully.  It affects me as an employee, Continue reading