Getting Rooted: Living in the Cross, A Path to Joy and Liberation
by Brian Drayton (Pendle Hill Pamphlet 391)
This is one of the clearest examples where I just want to say: read the whole thing. It’s not that long and anything I have to say about it is weak and pale in comparison.
One of the best points for me was about maintaining the balance between finding our roots but not idolizing the past. On this note, Drayton quotes from John Churchman’s journal, from back in 1740:
…An elderly man asked us if we saw some posts to which he pointed, and added, the first meeting George Fox had on this side of Chesapeak bay [sic], was held in a tobacco house there, which was then new, and those posts were part of it. John Browning [Churchman’s companion] rode to them, and sat on his horse very quiet; and returning to us again with more speed than he went, I asked him what he saw amongst those old posts. He answered, “I would not have missed what I saw for five pounds, for I saw the root and ground of idolatry. Before I went, I thought perhaps I might have felt some secret virtue in the place where George Fox had stood and preached, whom I believe was a good man; but whilst I stood there, I was secretly informed, that if George was a good man, he was in heaven, and not there, and virtue is not to be communicated by dead things, whether posts, earth, or curious pictures, but by the power of God, who is the fountain of living virtue.”Ahem. For someone like me, usually a devotee of what Anne Fadiman calls "You Are There Reading," this is a good reminder. It's also good for anyone who has a tendency to think all the really good Quakers died before 1800.
I’ve read this pamphlet at least three times now. Chris M. wrote about it back in September. It is amazing to me that reading Drayton requires multiple passes – not because the words or grammar are that hard, but because the Truth is small and still and must be waited for. It’s not a page-turning adventure story. More like the slow growth of roots in the heart.
Another passage that Drayton quotes is from Isaac Penington. It’s pretty common among Friends – I even just bought a t-shirt with part of this on it:
Give over thine own willing; give over thine own running; give over thine own desiring to know or to be any thing, and sink down into the seed which God sows in the heart, and let that grow in thee, and be in thee, and breathe in thee, and act in thee, and thou shalt find by sweet experience that the Lord knows that, and loves and owns that, and will lead it to the inheritance of life…
Let Drayton’s words grow in thee too.
Labels: good books and music
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