Category: Meeting

At Meeting: 7th February 2016

Flowers for 7th Feb 2016 pic

Despite the mild winter so far, warm layers of clothes are still the order of the day. Condensation on the library windows diffuse the light and filter later breaks of sun as they backlit the branches of the trees beyond them.

A solitary ladybird, who may have arrived incognito with this week’s flowers took a journey during Meeting perhaps unaware of a small collection of hibernating ladybirds high up in one corner of the room.

During Meeting a Friend read Quaker Faith and Practice 2.03

Some Friends are able to recall with clarity the first occasion on which they attended a Quaker meeting. While I cannot remember when or where I did so, I do have a vivid recollection of the meeting which I began to attend regularly.

It was held in a rather hideous building: the meeting room was dingy. We sat on rickety chairs that creaked at the slightest movement. The whole place gave little hope that those who worshipped there might catch a glimpse of the vision of God. It was in stark contrast to the splendour of the Anglican churches to which I had been accustomed, where through dignified ritual the beauty of holiness was vividly portrayed.

However, it was in this unlikely setting that I came to know what I can only describe as the amazing fact of Quaker worship. It was in that uncomfortable room that I discovered the way to the interior side of my life, at the deep centre of which I knew that I was not alone, but was held by a love that passes all understanding. This love was mediated to me, in the first place, by those with whom I worshipped. For my journey was not solitary, but one undertaken with my friends as we moved towards each other and together travelled inwards. Yet I knew that the love that held me could not be limited to the mutual love and care we had for each other. It was a signal of transcendence that pointed beyond itself to the source of all life and love.

George Gorman, 1973

Later in Meeting there was a short musical offering realised by the medium of a kazoo (yes, I said kazoo).

After Meeting notices were read and we chatted over refreshments.

Next week will also see an Area Meeting at Harpenden after our own Meeting.

At Meeting: 24th January 2016

Flowers for 24th January photo

Sudden more temperate weather returned late yesterday for a welcome break from single digit temperatures just as an exceptional snow blizzard covered parts of the United States. We met again, as is usual during winter months in the library.

A friend stood during Meeting to read the last two verses from a poem by Charles Causley.

Later the silence was augmented by a wonderful impromptu voice and triangle musical contribution.

Later still a Friend stood to say that they felt to a cause for celebration. For them it was not always important for things to be grasped intellectually and defined or reasoned but that they felt it was more important as to what can be accessed with the heart just by feeling. That finding the right words to define love or God were not important and so what was important was being aware of the nature of love and so they felt that God is love and so it everything stems from that. They then cited a Quaker question asked originally by George Fox that is still used today; “what does love require of you?”

After Meeting we shared chat and refreshment.

Some of us went on later to attend the Holocaust Memorial Day observance at the council chambers in Luton town hall.

The next Quaker study is scheduled for Friday 5th February.


At Meeting: 3rd January 2016

Flowers for 3rd Jan 2016Despite drizzling rain falling under a watercolour grey sky we came to Meeting for the first time in 2016 and wished each other a happy new year, said hello to a very welcome second time attender and a further welcome to another first time attender to Meeting.

During Meeting Advices & Queries 1 was read:

Take heed, dear Friends, to the promptings of love and truth in your hearts. Trust them as the leadings of God whose Light shows us our darkness and brings us to new life.

It was preceded with a small section from the introduction to Advices& Queries.

After Meeting we chatted over tea and coffee and a friend shared some lovely black bean brownies. We had a business meeting (PM) shortly thereafter.

At Meeting: 13th December 2015

Picture of flowers brought to Meeting on Dec 13 2015

A day of fine drizzly rain that gave way to an atmospheric cold fog in the afternoon and evening. Waves of fine rain rippled like a handled curtain in front if the contrast of the bold greenary of the tress that dominate the view from the library where we meet over the winter period (more light at this time of year and more sustainable to heat).

Our circle of waiting contained two ministries.

The first was a reading from Quaker Faith & Practice 27.26

This is the truth which we know and try to live … that every person is capable of response to the divine Spirit; that this Spirit, or Light, or God reaches out to each one directly and freely; that if we follow the leadings of this Spirit faithfully we are led out of sin into unity with the divine will; that this unity leads us into love of and care for all humankind, who are our kin; that what the Spirit shows us is living truth which cannot be fettered by words.

Janet Scott, 1980

Later another Friend stood to speak. They said that they felt very moved by the idea that we are moved by the spirit or drawn by the light, and pulled towards acting with love and simple truth. They felt encouraged by the seemingly good news of the agreement reached at the Paris climate talks and tackling climate change globally. They suspected that  we were at the start of the process of saving the world from catastrophic disaster.

They wanted to remember that Quakers had taken up the environmental cause over a long period and cited the Canterbury commitment and the work of Quaker United Nations and the work they do for peaceful diplomacy. They also felt they needed to explore the idea that perhaps everyone in the world could be lead by the spirit and drawn by the light towards love and truth and that perhaps that process had begun in a profound way and that the world could be saved and made anew.

After Meeting another dear Friend joined us for tea,coffee and chat and biscuits were bought in to share which we were very grateful for.

At Meeting: 27th September 2015

A compassionate heart

Sunny weather persists during this ongoing transition to autumn colours and autumn temperatures.

We were small in number at Meeting but close and supportive.

Meeting was silent. During bridging time a brief uplifting tune was played by a friend on their recorder.

Another Friend said they had been thinking very much about compassion and how that was, they felt, very much part of the nature of God.

They said they were following the visit by The Pope to America and the acts of compassion that this visit had triggered. They were struck by the Pope’s decision to visit prisoners in prison and how those prisoner’s were touched by this decision to visit them.

Another example of compassion they’d come across whilst talking to somebody about a church in Nottingham called the rainbow church and they had been told of an asylum seeker from Pakistan seeking refuge due to being gay and the subsequent persecution and non acceptance that would be endured in their home country. Our Friend was told that the congregation had prayed for him to find somebody because he was so lonely. They said this story had really touched them.

Image by Alice Popkorn under this creative commons licence


At Meeting: 20th September 2015

Flowers for 10th September 2015

Today had sun. probably the last of the warming suns of Autumn that give way to the winds and showers of October days. Weekend sun blessed the weekend days. The last grass cuts of the season are within the grasp of those who spent the summer tending greenery.

We welcomed our yearly attender from just up the road. Always a pleasure to see him.

A Friend read from Quaker Faith & Practice 27.44

“I personally believe that there is a quality in the bareness of Christian Quakerism, which may act as a bridge between the past and the future, allowing space for Friends to dare to search within… To be a Quaker is by no means to say goodbye to myth, ritual and symbol, but rather to find myself set free to discover them as the very essence of the way I now experience… Quakers are bridge people. I remain on that bridge, part of my roots reaching back into the Christian past and part stretching forward into the future where new symbols are being born”.

Damaris Parker-Rhodes, 1985

Much later our Friend who visits from Milton Keynes played his improvised acoustic guitar with words that spoke of “calling for your love”.

After Meeting we spoke to another dear Friend who had drawn a line under their employment and looked to a different future and we discussed our concerns for the world, politics, communication and all our futures.


At Meeting:13th September 2015

Flowers for 13th September 2015

It was very good to meet a visiting Friend from the Isle of Wight – and lovely to have an old F/friend join us who has moved away from our immediate area – someone who has been in our thoughts.

In spoken ministry, a Friend reflected on the value of a Quaker meeting, with its space for spiritual experience within the silence. She spoke of the importance of the metaphor of the inner light – which may sometimes be blocked, but which can also shine outwards into the world.

At Meeting: 6th September 2015

Flowers for 6th September 2015

After a week of chilly nights and autumnal rain this Sunday heralded the promised mini Indian summer.The grass remained damp and leaves show the first signs of discolouration.

During Meeting advices & queries 41 was read out:

Try to live simply. A simple lifestyle freely chosen is a source of strength. Do not be persuaded into buying what you do not need or cannot afford. Do you keep yourself informed about the effects your style of living is having on the global economy and environment?

There was ministry too that spoke of simplicity not being purely taken as self denial but more about realising the simple things that mean the most such as the gift of life, affection for others and the opportunity to help them. There was mention too of the importance of a sense of the spirit.

Meeting also featured more self composed music via acoustic guitar and voice with lyrics that dealt with how we relate to an inner or outer spirit.

After Meeting we were joined by an attender and a Friend complete with their people-eager dogs, one of whom was a lovely new foster dog. We wished our Friend from Milton Keynes a belated happy birthday and shared in a cake we had bought for him.

We shared our thoughts and a cuppa before the business of PM was undertaken.

At Meeting: 30th August 2015

Flowers for 30th August 2015

This bank holiday Sunday showed us a glimpse of Autumn. We gathered at Meeting and sat and waited. It was a silent gathering save for a few minutes when we were treated to a short piece of acoustic guitar and voice. The one writing this (hello folks) was deeply moved as music comes from and speaks to the soul.

After Meeting we shared, chatted and cupped a warm drink in our hands.

Next week will be a slightly shorter Meeting due to PM.

At Meeting: 23 August 2015

Invisible Sun?

Overnight rain had dampened the ground. The Sunday morning had a cool air with still a hangover of humidity which was promising afternoon showers. We gathered for Meeting.

A Friend read from Quaker Faith  Practice 21.27

“A sudden concentration of attention on a rainy August morning. Clusters of bright red berries, some wrinkled, some blemished, others perfect, hanging among green leaves. The experience could not have lasted more than a few seconds, but that was a moment out of time. I was caught up in what I saw: I became a part of it: the berries, the leaves, the raindrops and I, we were all of a piece. A moment of beauty and harmony and meaning. A moment of understanding”.

Ralph Hetherington, 1975

Later in the Meeting one half of our Friends from Milton Keynes played the recorder. As is often the case music can speak as much, if not more than words.

After Meeting and during bridging time a returning attender who is still coping with various health issues felt moved to speak. They said that like many they’d had cause, over the past few months, to wonder where many people found the strength and courage needed to go on during times of life’s challenges and the adversity it sometimes brings. They mentioned that Quakers often talk about the light within whereas some Buddhist schools define religion as a reconnection to source.

They spoke of being a child of popular culture and in their younger days a pop song that made the charts contained words that resonated with them. At the time it spoke specifically of the then ongoing troubles in Northern Ireland but the words exist outside of that historical reference point. The song was called Invisible Sun and contained the words;

“There has to be an invisible sun, that gives its heat to everyone, there has to be an invisible sun, that gives us hope when the whole day’s done”.

Our other Friend from Milton Keynes spoke of opening the Bible at random to see what appeared and that they read a passage that concerned Paul teaching the word of Jesus, travelling from town to town. One town took a particular disliking to this and decided that Paul was to be punished by flogging. He was taken to prison where he faced a possible death. He continued to praise Jesus despite his predicament and thanked God. The gaolers took pity on him, cleaned up his wounds and decided not to punish him which all seemed to emerge purely out of Paul being thankful.

Image by James Morley under this creative commons licence

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