4/25/2006

On fire and spice

Last night I co-led a workshop on the Quaker value of equality at San Francisco Friends School. This is part of a series of workshops using the SPICES acronym: the Quaker testimonies or values of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship. (See posts by Liz Opp and me for past blogger thoughts on the SPICE(S) framework.)

This is the third year that John, Patty & I have done the workshops for the parents. In the first two years we did just SPICE. We're adding the second-S of SPICES with a Stewardship workshop this year for the first time, in May. It's generating a lot of interest among other parents who are helping us organize it, which is great.

We were going to call it Sustainability. But then in a committee meeting, a teacher said, "In Faith and Practice it talks about stewardship, not sustainability." Keep in mind that most (all?) of the teachers there are not members of the Society of Friends. However, this teacher has begun attending meeting for worship at San Francisco Meeting frequently in the past year or so. In addition he has meeting for worship in the classroom once a week and with the whole school community once a month. He also did a wonderful job in our Peace workshop as the teacher presenter.

And here he is quoting Faith and Practice to the rest of the folks on the committee!

"Yes, he's on fire!" Patty said.

- - -

Thinking about that teacher, I wanted to lift up just one sentence that spoke to my condition in Doug Gwyn's Seekers Found: Atonement in Early Quaker Experience. This is from page 290 in a section about Isaac Penington:

The Quaker movement was about power -- not human power, but divine power coursing through surrendered human minds and bodies.

- - -

How about you? Have you experienced surrender like that? How did it feel? Was it like fire? Was it like a hot chili, stinging and hot followed by sweat and bliss? Was it like rushing water? Was it a small voice whispering, or the sound of silence after a storm? Was it a still, deep pond? Was it like being fully present at the feet of the Teacher?

4 comments:

Liz Opp said...

Chris,

On the one hand, I like the "S for Stewardship" idea. The monthly meeting here now has a Stewardship Committee that is responsible for enhancing community involvement on things like care for the building, while also making that care more "visible" to the meeting (i.e., reminding Friends that we have no paid administrator or staff person).

That said, I don't consider stewardship a "historic" testimony, though it makes for a fine value and important discipline or practice!

I'm also glad to read about the interest and involvement of parents, which has been a concern of mine, how to teach or demonstrate to parents that Quakerism is more than just First Day School, and that First Day School curricula and activities aren't just plucked out of thin air...

Blessings,
Liz, The Good Raised Up

Chris M. said...

Thanks, Liz!

Just a clarification, these were parents of children at the Friends School. Like most of the parents at the school, the particular parents at the workshop would not identify themselves as Quakers.

As for stewardship, I would lift up this section from Pacific Yearly Meeting's Faith and Practice: "John Woolman said, 'As Christians all we possess are the gifts of God… To turn all the treasures we possess into the channel of Universal Love becomes the business of our lives.' The principle of stewardship applies to all we have and are. As individuals, we are called to use our time, our various abilities, our strength, our money, and our material possessions with care, managing them wisely and sharing them generously."

Finally as the incoming clerk of the Children's Religious Education Committee of our meeting, I'd welcome ideas from the blogosphere that I could pluck!

Liz Opp said...

Hi, Chris--

Thanks for the clarifications... and in my case, the committee that proposed establishing a Stewardship Committee found only a few quotes about stewardship within Britain Yearly Meeting's Faith & Practice (our own yearly meeting's F&P is still in the works). ...Compare those few quotes to the many quotations that are offered for any of the other Testimonies...

My personal hesitancy, then, to identify stewardship as a capital-T Testimony is because it doesn't seem to be woven into many early Friends' writings; it doesn't seem to undergird the leadings of Friends in the way that Testimonies such as peace, equality, and simplicity are or do.

Again, this is my personal take on it.

Once my energy picks back up again, I'll see if I can email you anything specific to the Stewardship Committee's work--or the work of the predecessor committee--that might help.

Blessings,
Liz, The Good Raised Up

Alice M. said...

Testimonies committee in Britain Yearly Meeting chew over this one regularly, too.

Thanks for writing the last few paragraphs especially. I rejoice to hear other people talking about God moving through us. That's the way round I understand it, I think that's where it's at.

I think the idea of surrendering to God is not an easy one - surrender seems dangerous after long years of humans hating and killing in the name of God. But I find there is a sweet and powerful God, who can be trusted with my life, as well as everyone else's. It's got to be my first priority, listening to Christ, following and learning God's way.

Yes, for me, it's like being in the room with Jesus, the teacher who is miraculously alive, and being invited to speak his words to others; like being moved by a river of God's love; finding myself reoriented to fall gently under the gravity of love unfolding in the universe.