Clerk's corner

(I wrote this for SF Meeting's newsletter and decided to publish it here, too.)

There is a waterfall at the new development where Robin & I live now. The water flows from 7 am to 11 pm. The lights under the water go on around dusk and turn off at 11, too. It’s a terrible waste of energy, and of water because of evaporative loss, yet it’s beautiful. My children are captivated by its loveliness. They now sit at the breakfast table in the two seats that enable them to see the water start flowing at 7 am.

The timed artificial waterfall contrasts with the flow of the Living Water, always present, always flowing, somewhere in the very ground of our being. Do we take time to notice it when we are not in meeting? For that matter, do we find it in meeting?

Be a Quaker without Ceasing: How would it feel to live every moment aware of that flow, living every moment as a Quaker? To have that integrity, to achieve that level of integration, that centeredness within at all times? Interesting questions!

Of course, I’m thinking of Paul’s exhortation in 2 Thessalonians 5:17: “Pray without ceasing.” For me, getting anywhere near that place starts with mindfulness, being present, as in Zen meditation. From being present comes awareness of Presence itself.

(By the way, there are many other good lines in that chapter of Thessalonians: “5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day… 13b. Be at peace among yourselves…. 15 See that none render evil for evil unto anyone; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all.” One of the names early Quakers gave themselves was “Children of Light.”)

Speaking of “Extreme Quakerism”: What did you think of the extended meeting for worship on 9/30? Ministry and Oversight seeks your feedback about this experiment, which we did on the fifth Sundays in July and September. Email Jeff Mead, M&O clerk, jeffbikedog --at-- gmail.com.

Faith and Practice group: The last few months, Ministry & Oversight held Sunday morning sessions about Pacific Yearly Meeting’s Faith and Practice, including the advices and queries and the sections on meeting for worship and meeting for business. Friends had a rich time of discussion and reflection at the two I attended. We will continue organizing these sessions from time to time, focusing on topics identified by participants. One future topic will be clearness committees, the method Friends use for membership, marriages, and discernment around life changes. By the way, you can find the full text of Faith and Practice online at www.pacificyearlymeeting.org.

Meeting for Business: The October meeting for business will have a longer period of discernment around queries from our environment subcommittee.

Quakers in the News: Cal Broomhead was quoted and photographed for an article in the S.F. Business Times, on green home renovations and building. Robin Mohr has an article in the October issue of Friends Journal. And I was quoted in the Peninsula edition of the Examiner, as part of a series looking at the struggle that low-income families face in S.F. and San Mateo Counties.


kwattles said...

To me, it seems odd to say "Be a Quaker without ceasing." Odd in a good way, I suppose.

I had a friend who was into some sort of weird philosophical linguistics which wanted to eliminate the verb "to be," and I guess your idea makes that suggestion relevant.

"Being" a Quaker seems like a frame or window through which we would have to channel ourselves, a restriction at least as much as an opening. One might at moments wonder, "What am I supposed to be doing right now? Ah yes, BEING a Quaker. And so what do I have to DO in order to BE a Quaker? ..." It becomes a two-step process, at least one step removed from the present moment.

The early Friends, of course, didn't set out to become a separate denomination, and in the context of your thought, I guess they wanted people to DO rather than to BE whatever type of religion they professed. It was an antagonist, Justice Bennett, "who was the first that called us Quakers, because I bade them tremble at the word of the Lord."

Tremble without ceasing? :)

I see that you've elaborated on the idea with a few other verbs and ideas of what it would mean to "be" a Quaker, Chris. Still, it is a little paradoxical, isn't it?

Chris M. said...

Kirk: Yes, tremble without ceasing is good! :)

Seriously, I hadn't thought about it much when I wrote that. "Be a Quaker without ceasing" meant have the same quality of present attention to the divine in my every-moment life as I pretty often do in meeting for worship....

-- Chris M.