A summer’s day. Doors open at Meeting including an open door to the wild meadow area out the back. the white noise of wind through the trees, distant voices and sounds of the urban town.
We were well attended today. Welcome faces.
A Friend read from the end of the introduction Quaker Faith & Practice. They said this passage looked at the whole of QF&P really and that they felt it placed an emphasis on the richness of Quaker heritage as well as elsewhere in other traditions and other ways of understanding, It also emphasised that we need to rediscover the truth in every generation and that there is perhaps no final truth. That we are all seekers.
“We are seekers but we are also the holders of a precious heritage of discoveries. We, like every generation, must find the Light and Life again for ourselves. Only what we have valued and truly made our own, not by assertion but by lives of faithful commitment, can we hand on to the future. Even then, we must humbly acknowledge that our vision of the truth will, again and again, be amended.
In the Religious Society of Friends we commit ourselves not to words but to a way”.
Meeting took plave in a not overly warm summer morning. Occaisionally the reshness of oncoming autumn air could perhaps be felt. Butterflies weved aroundthe wild grass and flowers in the area that has been left to go wild out the back of the meeting house.
We sat in our usual circle for Meeting.
A while into sitting a Friend spoke, saying that it was difficult looking out at the graveyard and not remember that 100 years ago many young men died. Walking around the graveyard they could see many young men who had died at the battle of the Somme in 1916. They said that one of the unique features or consequences of such horror was that men who had previously refused to serve in combat were allowed to form ambulance services in battle at the time.
They then read a passage by a Quaker who served at the time:
“There is hardly a moment when my thoughts are not with the men in France, eager to help the wounded by immediate human touch with their sufferings. This I was privileged to do during nineteen months spent at the Front with the Friends Ambulance Unit from October 1914 to May 1916, when it was still possible to give voluntary service. At times the impulse to return to this work becomes almost irresistible. May God steady me, and keep me faithful to a call I have heard above the roar of the guns. By the feverish activity of my hands, I might help to save a fraction of the present human wreckage. That would be for me no sacrifice. It costs far more to spend mind and spirit, if need be, in the silence of a prison cell, in passionate witness for the great truths of Peace. That is the call I hear. I believe that only spiritual influence will avail to free the world at last from war, to free the soldiers’ little ones and confused struggling humanity itself from all that men and women are suffering now. I honour those who, in loyalty to conscience, have gone out to fight. In a crisis like the present it would be unbecoming to elaborate the reasons which have led me to a course so different. Today a man must act. I believe, with the strength of my whole being, that standing here I am enlisted in active service as a soldier of Jesus Christ, who bids every man be true to the sense of duty that is laid upon his soul.”
Meeting had a delayed start today due to a Member having a car accident turning into the Meeting House so there was support to be given and taken whilst the immediate matter was sorted out. Luckily nobody was injured except the metal of two cars. Of course it’s an upsetting experience that’s hard not to be affected by.
The Society of Friends might be thought of as a prism through which the Divine Light passes, to become visible in a spectrum of many colours; many more, in their richness, than words alone can express.
Later a visiting Friend contributed musically by playing a compact accordion. Often music speaks louder than words. Or at least is complimentary.
At the close of Meeting we were asked to uphold the Friend who had endured the car accident and who had left early as a result.
A sunny day. Interesting to notice how the sun doesn’t hit the main Meeting room window any more as where the sun is at this time of day has changed slightly. The wild meadow out the back is reaching further upwards. Insects flit between the tops and the surrounding trees.
Advices & Queries 28 was read during this slightly shortened meeting die to the Preparative Meeting (Quaker Business Meeting) that followed it.:
Every stage of our lives offers fresh opportunities. Responding to divine guidance, try to discern the right time to undertake or relinquish responsibilities without undue pride or guilt. Attend to what love requires of you, which may not be great busyness.
Later a friend reflected on this passage by saying that whilst they thought it was very much common sense they still found themselves conflicted about it. They felt that tasks are laid onto people who often feel ill equipped and very unsuited to the task. But that they felt strength was given to do that task if it is God’s will.
They said there were examples at Yearly Meeting of people being called to undertake tasks via a calling or concern, in Quaker language, and though some had felt it was unwise to take on this work it nevertheless bore much fruit.
After Meeting we shared refreshments and chat and many of us stayed on for PM.