How I became a Quaker ... now a totally trivial, made-for-blog mini-series!
Part 4...or, I'm happy to have found Quakerism when I read writings like these:
"This is our religion; to feel that which God begets in our hearts preserved alive by God, to be taught by him to know him, to worship, and to live in him, in the leadings and the power of his Spirit."
"So, be still and quiet, and silent before the Lord, not putting up any request to the Father, nor cherishing any desire in thee, but in thee the clear discerning, in the lowly Seed, of all that springs and arises in the heart."
Both of the above quotations by Isaac Penington (1616-1679), father-in-law of William Penn...
I've been dabbling in the collection Quaker Spirituality: Selected Writings, edited by Douglas Steere and part of the series The Classics of Western Spirituality (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1984). Well worth getting your hands (and heart) on.
I just stopped and read and re-read and re-re-read those quotations.
I have to say that, in my work, I've become immersed in the breakneck pace of our society and of our educational system. But I read words that speak of stillness, calm, and of God who teaches us himself (sorry for the somewhat antiquated gender typing of the Deity), and I take heart.
And I rejoice that I can follow in the heartsteps of the author of those writings.
Another thing that impresses me about early Friends is their patience in adversity, their cheerfulness in the face of persecution and hardship. It's not that I'm arguing for quietism or against speaking out on injustice. But much of what I read seems to proceed from a not so serene place, and some of the activists that I know are starting to suffer burn-out and bitterness.
To join the words of Deepak Chopra to those of Isaac Penington:
Let us not demand of ourselves that we alone must be the agent of change. In a fire brigade everyone passes along a bucket, but only the last person puts out the fire. None of us know where we stand in line. We may be here simply to pass a bucket; we may be called on to play a major role. In either case, all we can do is think, act, and say. Let us direct our thoughts, words, and actions to peace. That is all we can do. Let the results be what they will be.
Next time...some quotations by Caroline Stephen.