Quakerism for One
She writes about making the transition from being a beloved child of a Meeting to being an isolated Friend. In China. For two years. When the only letter she got the first year was from her Meeting. Saying, “Dear Friend, we have not received your contribution this year.” Can you imagine? (Sigh.)
In her second year, she developed new ways of nourishing her spirit. She subscribed to Friends Journal and got FWCC mailings. She examined the religious education she had received – learning to make distinctions between what she thinks the older Friends meant, what she actually learned, and what she thinks now. I’d love to reprint the whole article here, but this is an example:
What they meant to teach: We are all ministers to each other.
What she actually learned: Ministers aren’t important.
Her (new) idea: It is important to cultivate and appreciate everyone’s ability to minister, expecially those around us with a gift for ministry.
She expands on this and other ideas wonderfully.
She offers four advices for isolated Friends:
- Develop a daily spiritual practice, even if very brief
- Develop a spiritual friendship, even if the friend is far away
- Formalize contact with a Meeting, be specific in what kind of support you want and how you can give back
- Participate in local spiritual activities, even if they are not Quaker
I think most of us would agree that these are good advices for all Friends.
And she ends with a few queries:
- How do I deal with the feeling of alienation from U.S. Quaker culture that comes from a deeper understanding of another culture? How can I share this understanding with Friends in a way that might diversify our culture and enrich our religious experience
- How can I deepen my connection to God? How can I prepare myself for future periods of isolation? How can I support others who are currently isolated?
- Do we educate our children to know God in as many ways as possible? Do we teach them ways to worship without community? Do we make them aware of the rich variety of belief and practice within the Quaker faith?
These are profoundly important questions. For me. Personally. I will continue to consider them for a while. For example, I wonder:
- How has my understanding of other cultures affected my understanding of religion?
- How can I support others who are or just feel isolated?
- How much of what I’m trying to teach my children is actually helping them to know God and Quaker practice?
I actually think the Quaker blogosphere holds some of the answers. If anyone knows a way to forward this post to Mariah Miller with my thanks for her article, please do so.
Labels: good books and music
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