Friends Journal

Syndicate content
Communicating Quaker experience to connect and deepen spiritual lives
Updated: 7 hours 41 min ago

Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment

Sun, 2017-10-01 03:08
By Wenonah Hauter. The New Press, 2016. 276 pages. $27.95/hardcover. Buy from QuakerBooks

Food & Water Watch is a national organization with state chapters; as such, it is nimble enough to organize on local issues. In this book, founder and executive director Hauter discusses fracking, which she says “looms as the environmental issue of our times,” state by state where it is going on. In order to draw the big picture, she also reveals the criss-crossing web of relationships among those who benefit from it; the web includes oil companies, but also some in finance, media, and retail as well as utilities and nonprofits. The nonprofit beneficiaries of fracking include oil trade groups, but also others like the Smithsonian. She doesn’t include elected officials and legislators in the web, but the point is clear: all the beneficiaries will protect their own stake by protecting the others. This book is Hauter’s considerable contribution to helping citizens understand the issues; it is an excellent source to learn about more than fracking. The extensive index makes it even more valuable. The local chapters of Food & Water Watch offer a place to join in activism for those so led.

The post Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment appeared first on Friends Journal.

Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home

Sun, 2017-10-01 03:06
By Traci Smith. Chalice Press, 2017. 211 pages. $19.99/paperback or eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

It’s not uncommon to be aware of the sacredness of the ordinary, such as daily life with children. As we know, children experience openings and have powerful spiritual experiences at times. Faithful Families, a new and expanded version of the 2014 title Seamless Faith, is a book that offers ways to make it easy to frame the ordinary as sacred, keeping the space open for spiritual experiences to be not only had, but talked about within the home. Smith divides the book into sections on traditions for morning, bedtime, and holidays; ceremonies for events like birth and death; and spiritual practices for all days or any day, like labyrinths. She includes things that will appeal to children, such as Listening Car Rides and Quiet Time Bags for meditation.

The post Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home appeared first on Friends Journal.

What Love Can Do: Following the Way of Peace, Justice and Compassion

Sun, 2017-10-01 03:04
By Gerard Guiton. Wipf and Stock, 2016. 164 pages. $21/paperback. Buy from QuakerBooks

Gerard Guiton describes his calling as “spiritual counseling,” and the nature of this book is in that vein. From the belief that people have a deep need to live in ways that honor and strengthen their experiences of spirituality, Guiton has written this book to help seekers enliven their search, which can open or reveal tender spots in one’s being. At such times, a book such as this not only helps the reader to experience the gift of such vulnerability; it also provides guidance, safety, companionship, and comfort along the way.

The post What Love Can Do: Following the Way of Peace, Justice and Compassion appeared first on Friends Journal.

Dirt: Back to the land in poetry

Sun, 2017-10-01 03:02
By Errol Hess. Wetknee Books, 2016. 70 pages. $5.99/paperback; $0.99/eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

As in his previous collection, Hunting Pennies (reviewed in FJ June/July 2016), Errol Hess explores the Appalachian way of life with all its physical demands and rough edges, farms and mines, wild beauty and stark gashes. These mostly narrative poems by a West Virginia-born poet who currently lives on a 36-acre tract are rooted in the mountains, and shine with the wonders of its landscapes:

Once when I was very alone / the moon rose huge over my window / sill and I drove seventy miles / chasing it down valley roads.

And once, as we stood on a cleared knob / partway up Clinch Mountain, the moon rose / level with us larger than a dozen suns.

In this day and age, is it still possible to live on the land? It certainly is fertile ground for poetry.

The post Dirt: Back to the land in poetry appeared first on Friends Journal.

LGBTQ-Inclusive Hospice and Palliative Care: A Practical Guide to Transforming Professional Practice

Sun, 2017-10-01 03:00
By Kimberly D. Acquaviva. Harrington Park Press, 2017. 250 pages. $60/hardcover; $25/paperback; $19.99/eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

This manual is a must read if you are involved with efforts to help caregivers examine their ideas and feelings about seeing LGBTQ patients as simply part of the general population and not some special group. Acquaviva shares heartwarming stories of good care along with valuable suggestions for training caregivers to be more inclusive.

Given the history of discrimination against the LGBTQ community, this is a valuable resource.

Acquaviva is a tenured professor at the George Washington University School of Nursing and is a member of Friends Meeting of Washington (D.C.), where she teaches First-day school among other things.

The post LGBTQ-Inclusive Hospice and Palliative Care: A Practical Guide to Transforming Professional Practice appeared first on Friends Journal.

James Harold Booth

Sun, 2017-10-01 02:25
Booth—James Harold Booth, 78, on August 14, 2016, in Lansing, Mich. Jim was born on July 17, 1938, in Baldwin, Kans., to Helen Ehrhardt and Harvey Mellenbruch Booth. As a boy he began to love the prairies. He pursued his interest in agricultural economics at Kansas State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in feed technology (1960) and a master’s degree in agriculture and applied science (1962). In 1964 he married Kathy Gebhart, whom he had met when both were working in downtown Chicago, Ill. After six years they moved to Lansing, where he taught at Michigan State University (MSU) for🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
Not an FJ member? To read this piece, please join us today! For $28, you'll get:
  • A year of Friends Journal delivered to your mailbox (11 issues) and email
  • Full, instant access to the world’s largest online library of Quaker information: every Friends Journal ever published, going back to 1955
  • Membership in a community that believes in the power of Quaker experience
Click here to join us! Already a member? Welcome back. Please use the Login box to sign in. If you would like to order by phone or have any questions, we’re here to help. Call toll-free: (800)471-6863 or contact us by email.

The post James Harold Booth appeared first on Friends Journal.

Careen Marie Rizzo Mayer

Sun, 2017-10-01 02:20
Mayer—Careen Marie Rizzo Mayer, 77, on February 27, 2017, at her home in Annapolis, Md., of natural causes. Careen was born on April 28, 1939, in Summit, N.J., to Edythe Ayrault and Henrique Luis Rizzo. Growing up in New Jersey, Florida, and Brazil, she earned a bachelor’s in psychology from University of Maryland in 1975. In Baltimore she worked for American Friends Service Committee’s Mid-Atlantic Region in 1982–1990. She was married to Joseph Mayer until their divorce in 1989. After earning a master’s in mediation and conflict resolution from Antioch College in 1992, she directed the community outreach programs🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
Not an FJ member? To read this piece, please join us today! For $28, you'll get:
  • A year of Friends Journal delivered to your mailbox (11 issues) and email
  • Full, instant access to the world’s largest online library of Quaker information: every Friends Journal ever published, going back to 1955
  • Membership in a community that believes in the power of Quaker experience
Click here to join us! Already a member? Welcome back. Please use the Login box to sign in. If you would like to order by phone or have any questions, we’re here to help. Call toll-free: (800)471-6863 or contact us by email.

The post Careen Marie Rizzo Mayer appeared first on Friends Journal.

Olga Zalokoski McAllister

Sun, 2017-10-01 02:15
McAllister—Olga Zalokoski McAllister, 98, on January 23, 2017, of natural causes. Olga was born on September 14, 1918, in Chester, Pa., to Rosalia Motrycz and Gregor Zalokoski, known as Harry. On a nature hike to Hawk Mountain, Pa., Olga met Bard McAllister, her future husband, who shared her adventures for nearly 60 years. She lived in Philadelphia, Pa.; Glendora, Calif.; Orlando, Fla.; Alpine, Tenn.; Visalia, Calif.; and for six years in Zambia (Africa), before settling permanently in Visalia in 1972. She mothered four sons and supported Bard’s community organizing. She loved🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
Not an FJ member? To read this piece, please join us today! For $28, you'll get:
  • A year of Friends Journal delivered to your mailbox (11 issues) and email
  • Full, instant access to the world’s largest online library of Quaker information: every Friends Journal ever published, going back to 1955
  • Membership in a community that believes in the power of Quaker experience
Click here to join us! Already a member? Welcome back. Please use the Login box to sign in. If you would like to order by phone or have any questions, we’re here to help. Call toll-free: (800)471-6863 or contact us by email.

The post Olga Zalokoski McAllister appeared first on Friends Journal.

David A. Meirs II

Sun, 2017-10-01 02:10
Meirs—David A. Meirs II, 87, on March 27, 2017, in Cinnaminson, N.J., surrounded by love and family. David was born on April 30, 1929, in Columbus, N.J. After graduating from Rutgers University with honors and University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, he established Walnridge Equine Clinic in 1965. He served as president of the New Jersey Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, Rutgers University Board for Equine Advancement (RUEA), and New Jersey Association of Equine Practitioners. Also on the board of the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association, he was awarded many honors for his work. He served🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
Not an FJ member? To read this piece, please join us today! For $28, you'll get:
  • A year of Friends Journal delivered to your mailbox (11 issues) and email
  • Full, instant access to the world’s largest online library of Quaker information: every Friends Journal ever published, going back to 1955
  • Membership in a community that believes in the power of Quaker experience
Click here to join us! Already a member? Welcome back. Please use the Login box to sign in. If you would like to order by phone or have any questions, we’re here to help. Call toll-free: (800)471-6863 or contact us by email.

The post David A. Meirs II appeared first on Friends Journal.

Robert H. Tollefson

Sun, 2017-10-01 02:05
Tollefson—Robert H. Tollefson, 91, on January 27, 2017, in Tipp City, Ohio. Bob was born on May 17, 1925, in Parsonsfield, Maine, to Gladys Jones, a relative of Rufus Jones, and Harold N. Tollefson, a Quaker minister who served churches in Maine, Rhode Island, Ohio, Minnesota, and Indiana and was an administrator for Baltimore Yearly Meeting. Bob fulfilled conscientious objector obligations with Civilian Public Service (CPS) in New York State and Oregon doing reforestation; in Virginia; and as a hand on ships taking livestock to Poland after World War II, a program that later became Heifer International. He graduated🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
Not an FJ member? To read this piece, please join us today! For $28, you'll get:
  • A year of Friends Journal delivered to your mailbox (11 issues) and email
  • Full, instant access to the world’s largest online library of Quaker information: every Friends Journal ever published, going back to 1955
  • Membership in a community that believes in the power of Quaker experience
Click here to join us! Already a member? Welcome back. Please use the Login box to sign in. If you would like to order by phone or have any questions, we’re here to help. Call toll-free: (800)471-6863 or contact us by email.

The post Robert H. Tollefson appeared first on Friends Journal.

Gudrun Benedicte Friis Williams

Sun, 2017-10-01 02:00
Williams—Gudrun Benedicte Friis Williams, 91, on February 24, 2017, in Denton, Tex. Gudrun was born on October 1, 1925, in Geneva, Switzerland, to Danish parents Bodil and Finn Friis. Her mother was a Lutheran, and her father was a humanist. Instead of church on Sundays, the family went on nature excursions: hiking, skiing, and studying botany. Gudrun remembered living a simple but comfortable life. Her family came into contact with Quakers through a Quaker hostel. The family returned to Denmark in 1940, when she was 14. Her father worked for the🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
Not an FJ member? To read this piece, please join us today! For $28, you'll get:
  • A year of Friends Journal delivered to your mailbox (11 issues) and email
  • Full, instant access to the world’s largest online library of Quaker information: every Friends Journal ever published, going back to 1955
  • Membership in a community that believes in the power of Quaker experience
Click here to join us! Already a member? Welcome back. Please use the Login box to sign in. If you would like to order by phone or have any questions, we’re here to help. Call toll-free: (800)471-6863 or contact us by email.

The post Gudrun Benedicte Friis Williams appeared first on Friends Journal.

Quaker Works October 2017

Sun, 2017-10-01 00:05
A semiannual feature to connect Friends Journal readers to the good works of Quaker organizations* in the following categories:

*Editors’ note: We invite all explicitly Quaker-founded and/or Quaker-run groups and organizations to submit to the Quaker Works column. Most, but not all, are 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. The content is supplied by staff members of the organizations and edited to fit the style of Friends Journal. More details can be found on the Quaker Works submissions page.

Advocacy Friends Committee on National Legislation

For nearly 75 years, FCNL has lobbied Congress on priorities set by Friends. Right now, FCNL is seeing new energy for policy change and resistance. The number of people lobbying with FCNL and building relationships with their members of Congress continues to grow.

This work is making a difference. The all-out push from FCNL and its faith partners helped convince the Senate to reject legislation cutting healthcare for more than 22 million people. FCNL advocates called, wrote, and visited Congress; wrote letters to newspapers; took part in a 24-hour vigil; and flew from as far as Alaska to lobby.

FCNL works to bring people together across differences. In the past months FCNL has helped grow the Climate Solutions Caucus, a forum for Republicans and Democrats to develop climate policies, to more than 50 members. In May, FCNL supported a bipartisan group to introduce the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act.

FCNL’s capital campaign, “The World We Seek: Now Is the Time,” successfully concluded in June. It is already strengthening FCNL’s engagement with young adults and lobbying. This fall FCNL will open a Quaker Welcome Center, also funded by the campaign. FCNL looks forward to welcoming more Friends to Washington to lobby for the world Friends seek.

Quaker Council for European Affairs

QCEA’s human rights program, which began earlier this year following a review of QCEA’s work, has just seen the launch of its first major publication. Child Immigration Detention in Europe is the result of months of research into the detention of children because of their refugee status, and reveals the extent to which this phenomenon is under-reported across Europe. The report also explores humane alternatives to detention, and will serve as a key support to advocacy work on this issue for the rest of 2017.

QCEA also published a pamphlet on the European Convention on Human Rights, a treaty which protects fundamental rights across over 40 countries in Europe. The pamphlet was created to raise awareness of the convention among non-experts, and includes a ranking of how each signatory state has historically performed in protecting human rights.

In March, QCEA hosted a screening of the film Shadow World, a documentary which reveals the shocking reality of the global arms trade. The event—organized as part of QCEA’s peace program—included a post-film discussion with author Andrew Feinstein, whose initial research inspired the film. Almost 200 people attended.

Part of QCEA’s work involves helping supporters better understand European institutions, and in June QCEA held a study tour guiding a 20 Friends around Europe’s political institutions.

Quaker United Nations Office

Since 1947, the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) has worked to support a UN that prioritizes peace and prevents war, and presently includes programming in the areas of peacebuilding and the prevention of violent conflict. QUNO leads this work because it believes the UN’s work is critical in supporting those in need of humanitarian assistance and affected by conflict or natural disasters, in upholding human rights, addressing climate change, and in guiding the eradication of diseases and supporting healthcare. Since welcoming the new U.S. administration, support to the UN has been under threat following proposals to potentially decrease funding. QUNO has been active in monitoring these developments, and working to inform its constituency of support, including through developing online informational tools.

The UN’s achievements could not happen without support from donors, including from the United States, which currently provides 22 percent of the overall UN budget and 28 percent of peacekeeping funding. However, proposals, including from the House, Senate, and draft executive orders, could affect this support. Additional plans for disengagement with the UN, such as withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, signal growing threats to the global efforts for sustainable development and peace.

QUNO’s website provides more details about ongoing work and current updates, including ways Friends can get involved with organizations that provide avenues for action.

Consultation, Support, and Resources


Friends General Conference

Friends General Conference held its annual Gathering of Friends at Niagara University in Niagara Falls, N.Y., from July 2 to 8. This year’s theme was Ripples Start Where Spirit Moves. Attendees from around the world were inspired by plenary presentations from Kenneth Deer, Pamela Boyce Simms, and three speakers representing American Friends Service Committee: Sa’ed Atshan, Dalit Baum, and Sandra Tamari. Friends can view Simms’s full presentation on FGC’s YouTube channel.

FGC’s Institutional Assessment on Race will proceed this fall thanks to the $62,350 raised by 62 individual supporters, 21 monthly meetings, and 4 yearly meetings. The assessment was lifted up during last year’s annual meeting of FGC’s Central Committee in October, and it will help FGC and its affiliated yearly and monthly meetings identify areas where systemic racism exists and develop a long-term vision for faithful inclusion. Friends can learn about this important work on the FGC website, and periodic updates will be shared online.

Thanks to the generosity of anonymous donors, FGC’s Quaker Cloud was made available free of charge this summer to Quaker meetings and churches that were new to the platform. The Quaker Cloud is updated with new features and upgrades regularly, so Friends who have not had the opportunity to try it are encouraged to sign up on FGC’s website.

Friends Services for the Aging

In June, 75 attendees from Friends Services for the Aging (FSA) organizations gathered for a Values Summit to work together in articulating a vision of bringing Quaker-inspired values to senior living in today’s world. The group shared concrete examples of what the values mean “in action” in order to develop a shared understanding of what distinguishes a Quaker values-inspired approach. Led by professional facilitators, attendees were led through two days of exercises including storytelling and sculpting.

Irene McHenry, retired executive director of Friends Council on Education joined the summit, and shared that the SPICES acronym was developed to talk about how the values of presence, connection, and listening are lived. “Everyone found connections to the values, no matter what their faith or cultural background, or role in the organization, which made for a rich and engaging summit,” said FSA CEO Jane Mack.

The culminating activity of the two days was for small groups to name what they felt were the hallmarks of a Quaker values-inspired approach to senior living. Volunteers from each group then worked together to find common themes. These included Inner Light, trust, honoring the journey, gentle bravery, and being in community.

Reaction to the summit was very positive and a number of ideas for resources and programs arose. Participants were encouraged to take the spirit and conversations back to their respective organizations.

Friends United Meeting

After many years of prayer and discernment, way has opened for FUM to expand its ministries in the Southside neighborhood of Belize City, Belize. FUM has operated a small school for at-risk teens for many years, but the needs of this gang-ridden community are enormous. With the purchase and renovation of a new 8,800-square-foot building and the appointment of Kenyan Friend Oscar Mmbali as pastoral minister, FUM is now able to expand enrollment in the school, grow the small Friends meeting, offer AVP and other community-based ministries, and deepen its engagement with what God is doing to transform Belize City.

In other news, FUM recently appointed Adrian Moody to serve as the next head of school of Ramallah Friends School. The outgoing head, Joyce Ajlouny, had served in the post for 13 years and is now the new general secretary of American Friends Service Committee. Moody is an Australian with extensive experience in leadership of international schools. A deeply committed Catholic, Moody feels a strong affinity for Friends and a desire to help Ramallah Friends School grow and flourish.

The FUM Triennial, held in July 2017 at Friends University in Wichita, Kans., drew Friends from four continents. The 2020 Triennial will be held jointly with the United Society of Friends Women International and Quaker Men International, and will take place in Kenya.

Friends World Committee for Consultation (Asia–West Pacific Section)

Quakers in Australia are concerned about the proposed government poll to gain the view of Australians about marriage equality. In August, Jo Jordan, presiding clerk of Australia Yearly Meeting, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stating where Australian Quakers stand on this issue: “The Religious Society of Friends . . . supports the right of adult couples in loving and committed relationships to marry, regardless of gender. We also support the right of such couples to have their marriages accorded equal recognition and respect under the law of Australia.”

The letter also addressed the current law, which “prevents Quakers from facilitating the same legal recognition for same-sex marriages that we do for other marriages. This legal prohibition is fundamentally inconsistent with Quaker faith and practice.” In 2010 Australian Quakers agreed to celebrate marriages within meetings regardless of the sexual orientation or gender of the partners.

The letter ended with an opinion and a plea: “Quakers consider that a majority vote in a voluntary public poll is an inappropriate way to decide the legal rights of minorities who are subject to discrimination. . . . But if such a vote is held, we encourage everyone to open their hearts, to choose love over fear, and to support marriage equality in Australia.”

Friends World Committee for Consultation (Section of the Americas)

The 2017 Section Meeting of the Americas took place March 23–26 in Stony Point, N.Y. More than 125 Friends from 30 yearly meetings gathered to celebrate the theme Vivir La Paz—Living Peace (John 16:33). Highlights included three mornings of semi-programmed worship with spirited and challenging messages from Carl Magruder (Pacific Yearly Meeting), Kirenia Criado (Cuba Yearly Meeting), and Jonathan Vogel-Borne (New England Yearly Meeting), followed by small home-group discussions. More information, including the three plenary messages, can be found on the website.

Several years of planning, fundraising, and praying have culminated in the first cohort of the Traveling Ministry Corps. The seven ministers in the 2017 Corps—four from North America and three from South America—have begun visiting Quaker meetings and churches throughout the Americas. They are the newest weavers of the vibrant tapestry formed by the various threads of Quaker faith, crossing the boundaries created by distance, language, and belief.

The section has gathered new ideas and resources on the website for the fourth annual World Quaker Day on October 1, 2017. FWCC Section of the Americas is grateful to Quaker Religious Education Collaborative, QuakerSpeak, Friends International Bilingual Center, and the Shoemaker Fund for collaborating on the videos and lesson plans for religious education programs.

Friends World Committee for Consultation (World Office)

FWCC supports the vitality of Quakerism around the world and amplifies the Quaker voice. The Central Executive Committee (CEC) met in Rwanda in April, alongside the Africa Section Triennial, a gathering of 400-plus Friends. The CEC affirmed FWCC is one organization in spirit, with a modular governance structure and with integrated ways of working. The committee affirmed FWCC’s intention to take up consideration of issues of privilege and historical injustice, and FWCC’s role in youth work and in building bridges within the world Quaker community. The CEC set the next World Plenary Meetings for 2023, 2030, and 2037, FWCC’s centennial.

With World Quaker Day on October 1, the World Office is distributing the new map “Finding Friends Around the World 2017” to monthly meetings and local meetings around the world. The World Quaker Day website ( has curricular resources and videos to accompany the map, and instructions for Friends who wish to share photos and videos from the day.

FWCC raised funding for a new position: On September 4, Susanna Mattingly began as the sustainability communications officer. Her work involves gathering stories of peace and sustainability based on the Kabarak Call for Peace and Ecojustice (World Conference 2012) and the Pisac Sustainability Minute (World Plenary Meeting 2016), engaging young adult Friends across the sections, and encouraging yearly meetings to report on their work.

Quakers Uniting in Publications

QUIP met March 9–12 at the Penn Center on Saint Helena Island, S.C. The theme “Are Quakers Still Publishers of Truth?” inspired C. Wess Daniels’s talk “Revisioning the Nursery of Truth,” which looked to the emergent contexts of these times. Workshops included writing basics with Jennifer Kavanaugh; Becky Birtha led “How Much Belongs in a Children’s Book;” and Oskar Castro challenged writers to use social media to publish news and opinions. All enjoyed playing Quaker-created board games.

QUIP’s Tacey Sowle Fund, promoting publishing among underserved populations, is supported partly by QUIP dues. The Spanish Espiritu Se Levanta, a translation of Spirit Rising, allows Spanish-speaking Friends to discover how youth of different Quaker backgrounds express their beliefs. The grant to Quaker Religious Education Collaborative (QREC) supported an online resource of Spanish-language Quaker materials. QUIP also helped QREC publish a bilingual English–Spanish children’s book titled Quaker Meeting and Me.

QUIP membership and dues information for authors, publishers, and booksellers are on the new website.

Tract Association of Friends

The Tract Association of Friends holds a sense of unity in the concern for distribution of Quaker literature, and for explaining the spiritual basis of Friends testimonies.

The Tract Association mourns the passing of office manager and Friend Christine Greenland, who died in Fourth Month 2017. The association is grateful for her work and dedication.

2018 Tract Association wall and pocket calendars will be available this fall.

A new piece, Traveling in the Ministry, a pamphlet by Marian Baker and Priscilla Makhino, a Friend from Kenya, is now available for mail order. Peace Be with You: A Study of the Spiritual Basis of the Friends Peace Testimony, a pamphlet by Sandra Cronk, may be read online.



Friendly Water for the World

Klamath Falls (Ore.) Friends Church is a big supporter of Friendly Water for the World. Since 2015, the church has been supporting a group of 23 widows with HIV in eastern Rwanda—Tunyawamazimeza (“Use Clean Water”)—that has now produced and sold more than 2,200 BioSand water filters. Together with their sister groups—Dukundane (“Love One Another”), also women with HIV; and Amahoro (“Peace”), young people who were orphaned in the Rwandan genocide—they have ensured clean water for 60,000 people, and became entirely self-sufficient in the process. The three groups have now become among the largest philanthropists in eastern Rwanda, providing food for the hungry; sheep as Christmas presents for the poorest community members; and health insurance, shoes, and books for children entering school. The groups work four days a week on clean water efforts; on the fifth day they work in sewing and in traditional crafts, such as basket weaving.

Klamath Falls is a small Friends church with approximately 20 attendees on a typical Sunday. They correspond with the women in Rwanda, teach about clean water in First-day school, and celebrate Hope Sunday (the second Sunday in Advent) with a commitment to redouble their efforts. They would love to hear from other Friends meetings and churches interested in joining their efforts to ensure clean water to poor communities around the globe (contact at

Quaker Service Australia

QSA works with communities in India, Cambodia, and Uganda as well as to support Aboriginal communities and organizations in Australia. One such community is Kornar Winmil Yunti (KWY) in South Australia, a name which means “men working together” in the local language of Ngarrindjeri.

KWY is a nonprofit organization that supports Aboriginal men to build and strengthen their social and emotional wellbeing. Operating since May 2011, it holds healing camps and support groups, addressing significant issues such as identity and family roles, relationships, elders roles, Indigenous history, family violence, and grief and loss. An extension to these groups was implemented as they began to hold awareness-raising seminars for male youth to address depression, suicide, and domestic and family violence. Called “Club Connect,” the project provides information and encouragement for youth to make positive changes in their lives, and supports them in making informed choices. KWY staff delivered seminars to members of already existing football clubs and were very honest in sharing their own stories, creating a helpful atmosphere of trust and support. More information about this and other projects is on the website.

Australia Yearly Meeting acknowledges that Quaker testimonies call Friends to be in right relationship with all peoples. Australia Friends are all learning how to uphold First Nations people and their descendants in Australia in a joint and ongoing journey toward justice.



Bolivian Quaker Education Fund

BQEF continues its steady work empowering education, service, and connection between Friends in Bolivia and Friends in North America and Europe.

There are now more than 170 graduates of the BQEF scholarship program. Forty-six university and technical school scholarships were awarded this year, across diverse fields of study. Thirty-six of these students have sponsors, including one sponsor who is a former recipient. This marks the first time that a scholarship program graduate has fully sponsored another student in the program, an exciting milestone in sustainability.

This spring and summer, BQEF staff and volunteers attended several yearly meetings and Quaker gatherings. They had a well-attended interest group at the FGC Gathering, inspiring new enthusiasts, advocates, and travelers to Bolivia.

BQEF is partnering on joint activities with Quaker Bolivia Link, combining efforts to more effectively introduce Friends to the Quaker-led work in Bolivia.

The Student Residence in Sorata is also partnering with other organizations, to deepen and enrich the 22 student residents’ learning and opportunities. Two orphaned brothers, one of whom had been acting out and struggling in school, have settled in nicely and are now thriving. Loving care and support from staff and other students have made this uplifting turnaround possible.

Earlham School of Religion

Earlham School of Religion recently began the fall 2017 semester with an exciting new group of residential and online students. Incoming students represent denominations including Quaker, UU, MCC, Catholic, and Episcopal, and come to Indiana from as far away as California. August saw the launch of ESR’s first Entrepreneurial Ministry certificate program, with a cohort of students who began the program with a two-week intensive course.

ESR recently received an Association of Theological Schools-sponsored innovation grant to help motivate and fund faculty and student projects that connect curricular interests with the realities of ministry. ESR is also seeing great benefits to the implementation of blended classes through the use of videoconferencing to bring distance students into the classroom.

ESR continues to offer the services of the Quaker Information Center and the Quaker Career Center to answer questions about Quakerism and to offer job listings to those seeking a position in many different forms of ministry.

In August ESR welcomed Earlham’s new president, Alan Price, and FCNL executive secretary Diane Randall as the plenary speakers for the annual Quaker Leadership Conference. ESR will host pastor Mandy Smith as the keynote speaker for the Pastors Conference on October 2, and author Barbara Brown Taylor as the keynote speaker for its Ministry of Writing Colloquium November 3–4.

Friends Association for Higher Education

In May, FAHE published Quakers, Business, and Industry, the fourth in a book series examining Friends’ contributions to the academic disciplines, past and present.

FAHE’s 2017 conference was held in June at Guilford College. With the theme “Global Education, Global Quakerism,” the conference celebrated the global diversity of Quakerism, discussed the world’s changing educational landscape, and looked at how Friends’ testimonies might inform those changes in a positive way. In sessions ranging from physics to leadership to Quaker theology and history, Friends noticed that the words change, and adaptation and transformation arose often.

Highlights included the plenary speakers: Diya Abdo of Every Campus a Refuge urged attendees to consider how their institutions might aid refugees. David Niyonzima, vice chancellor of the International Leadership University in Burundi, described his work in trauma healing, leadership development through education, and transformation through the practice of Quaker faith. Gwen Gosney Erickson, Guilford College archivist, spoke about the first World Gathering of Quakers at Guilford 50 years ago; the prospect of hosting the event leveraged the integration of the college five years earlier, in 1962. Jane Fernandes, Guilford’s president, expressed faith in the future of Quaker institutions in the face of great change, because the Quaker commitment to listening into and out of the silence takes us to a deeper place and builds stronger relationships.

Friends Council on Education

Friends Council on Education remains nimble in supporting schools during turbulent times in our nation and seeks to provide responsive programming for educators as they navigate a challenging climate. “Teaching in Uncertain Times” provides a dynamic online platform for conversation and resource sharing. “UnColumbus Day” provides an opportunity for teachers to consider and rethink teaching about myths in U.S. history. A special speaker will focus attention on “Immigration/Sanctuary,” exploring how Friends school communities can support those who come to the United States in search of freedom and safety.

Friends Council strives to be a voice for the values Friends schools stand for. Statements responding to an increased climate of hate, violence, and bigotry are available to member schools. One Friends Council statement on a national event was particularly resonant, reaching over 11,000 people on Facebook.

Connection and outreach to Friends Council global affiliates included a visit to Ramallah Friends School by executive director Drew Smith, along with students and faculty from Westtown School.

Friends Council engaged Quakers, meeting clerks, heads of schools, donors, board members, educators,and individuals in a year-long comprehensive strategic planning process in 2016–2017.

Friends Council facilitates collaboration of Friends schools. This past spring the Friends Environmental Education Network hosted Friends Initiative to Reach Sustainability Together (FIRST) whose goals include bringing together Friends schools to collaborate on renewable energy initiatives.

Friends Historical Association

Friends Historical Association publishes two issues of the journal Quaker History each year and also holds two events focusing on aspects of Quaker history: a fall annual meeting with a speaker or panel, and a spring tour or trip to a location of significance in Quaker history.

This spring on May 6, inspired by last November’s conference “Quakers, First Nations and American Indians from the 1650s to the 21st century,” FHA members traveled to southern New Jersey to learn about past and present Quaker–Indian relationships, share stories, and renew friendships.

At Salem Oak and Friends Burial Ground (also the site of the first Quaker meeting in West Jersey) tour members received a warm welcome from a member of the Lenni-Lenape tribe. The group continued on to Lower Alloways Creek Meetinghouse, which was named for Aloes or Alowas, a Lenape sachem. There were opportunities to see Greenwich (N.J.) Meeting, Bacons Neck, Ambury Hill Cemetery, the Cumberland County Prehistorical Museum, and the 1870 monument erected by Quaker George Bacon Wood to a native chief whose name is lost.

A highlight for many was the visit to Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Grounds, where a delicious meal was shared, greetings and gifts exchanged, and friendships renewed. The final destination was Gouldtown, which was established in 1690 and may be the oldest African American community in the United States.

Quaker Religious Education Collaborative

QREC has grown into the vision of a cross-branch, international collaborative network of Friends supporting lifelong spiritual formation. Now beginning its fourth year, the collaborative is focused on recognition of religious education as vital ministry within the Society of Friends and on support for this work in local meetings and Friends churches.

Current projects include the addition of Spanish-language curriculum resources on QREC’s website, continued development of an interactive web resource platform, and production of short videos on religious education topics. Copies of Quaker Meeting and Me, a little book meetings and churches can use to welcome young children into their Friends community, have been distributed through several yearly meetings, and requested copies have been shared with Friends in Bolivia, Mexico, and Ramallah, Palestine. Copies can be requested on the website (

On August 18–20, QREC hosted an annual retreat, gathering 40 Friends from 14 states across the United States, Mexico, and Bolivia at Quaker Hill Conference Center in Richmond, Ind. The program included a panel on the role of the Bible in Quaker religious education, workshops, sharing of new resources and favorites from Friends’ religious education libraries, and music led by Annie Patterson and Peter Blood of Rise Up Singing. The next QREC retreat will be held at Powell House in Old Chatham, N.Y., on August 17–19, 2018.

Sierra Friends Center

Camp Woolman and Teen Leadership Camp welcomed campers on June 25. The vibrant and talented camp counselors created a camp based on the Baltimore Yearly Meeting model filled with safety, authenticity, fun, and challenge. The camps had over 200 campers this summer, including nine campers from China.

The center’s year of discernment into future programs to carry out the mission of “peace and justice through learning and service” led to piloting the Woolman Outdoor School May 17–19, with over 70 Oakland, Calif., students coming to the site. Sierra Friends Center collaborated with the Sierra Streams Institute on the curriculum, which included studying macro-invertebrates at the pond, sitting in silence in the meadows, cooking, astronomy, and removal of scotch broom. A short video on the pilot can be viewed on YouTube by searching for “Woolman Outdoor School.”

Sierra Friends Center is also celebrating their recent AmeriCorps team at Woolman. Their spirit infused the campus with energy. SFC hosted the annual Family Work Camp and a new Alumni Work Camp. The summer was a whirlwind of projects, play, conversations, and—most of all—love for Woolman.

Woolman and Sierra Friends Center welcome visits, calls, letters, and emails, and are grateful for the support of the community as they seek ever more relevant ways to bring Quaker educational experiences to the West Coast.

Environmental and Ecojustice


Earth Quaker Action Team

In May EQAT completed the Green Walk for Jobs and Justice. The 100-mile walk through southeastern Pennsylvania connected 30 communities to EQAT’s campaign for the utility PECO to Power Local Green Jobs by purchasing solar power generated in areas hungry for jobs.

The message resonated with many neighbors; people shared their needs for clean air, community jobs, and a safe future for the next generation. About 200 people joined the two-week walk, which was covered in news articles and on local TV. Over 200 also came out for the final mile, despite pouring rain, to march to PECO’s headquarters. Author Bill McKibben, Bishop Dwayne Royster, and other speakers called for PECO to recognize the connections between deep unemployment and the devastating impacts of climate change by ending its reliance on fossil fuels and embracing a solar future.

Those connections were reaffirmed in July when campaign partner POWER released a report on green jobs and poverty in Philadelphia. They estimate that green jobs could lift as many as one in five Philadelphians out of poverty, and recommend PECO begin immediately working toward 20 percent local solar by 2025.

Longtime members and new organizers trained during the walk are now planning a day of action for late fall. The day will amplify pressure on PECO by coordinating simultaneous actions for local green jobs.

Quaker Earthcare Witness

This year marks QEW’s 30th anniversary. The October Steering Committee meeting at Pendle Hill will focus on where Spirit is leading as QEW celebrates a history of inspiring Friends to act on spiritual connection with the natural world. QEW will seek way forward to build a sustainable, life-enhancing future in these challenging times. All Friends are welcome to attend. There will be multiple ways to connect, worship, celebrate, hear about current projects, and plan for the future.

Recognizing the need for food sovereignty, QEW sponsored an international event at the United Nations on re-localization of food production in the African diaspora. The coalition includes Black urban and rural farmers, agro-ecology activists, and defenders of small landholders and water rights in many parts of the world. The coalition is supporting people of African descent in the United States and elsewhere who have been disfranchised, displaced, and denied access to water. The coalition supports regional and international alternatives to energy- and chemical-intensive monoculture and corporate “agribiz” land grabs. Next year the coalition plans to sponsor a program on accessible and clean water.

The Earthcare for Children curriculum has been updated and is available from the website as downloadable lesson plans or in book format. Topics include “Earth Is Our Home,” “Soil, Seeds, and Climate,” and more. The lessons provided accommodate varying ages and interests in First-day schools.

Quaker Institute for the Future

Three Quake Institute for the Future research and writing projects are currently in process using the institute’s Circles of Discernment (CoD) method of collaboration.

QIF’s first CoD in 2007–2009 focused on the ethics of energy choices, and produced the Focus Book Fueling Our Future. In view of major changes, a current Circle of Discernment is revisiting this theme under the leadership of Robert Bruninga. A Focus Book is close to completion. A second CoD, led by John Lodenkamper, is working on a compilation and analysis of what is required to create a “life-centered economy” in which health and wellbeing are the primary indicators of prosperity, rather than the accumulation of wealth. A third CoD, led by Jim Grant, is working with the science-based “New Story” of the human-Earth relationship as presented by Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme, with a view to its role in advancing ecologically coherent cultural and spiritual development.

Due to planning circumstances, the QIF Summer Research Seminar was not held in 2017. It will resume in 2018.

Investment Management Friends Fiduciary Corporation

This year Friends Fiduciary has engaged with 40 companies across multiple sectors on various issues including drug pricing, deforestation, and greenhouse gas emission goals.

One leadership area for this season was asking companies to disclose their state and federal lobbying and trade association memberships. Friends Fiduciary sees lobbying transparency as both an issue of integrity and responsible management of business risks, as these expenditures are often significant and made with little board oversight. Lead resolutions asking Comcast Corporation and Vertex Pharmaceuticals to disclose their state and federal lobbying were voted on by all company shareholders in June, and received votes in line with votes received at other companies for similar resolutions, sending the message to company management that their shareholders are concerned about this issue.

Friends Fiduciary successfully withdrew resolutions at two insurance companies after they agreed to produce annual sustainability reports. Friends Fiduciary looks forward to continuing and deepening witness on Wall Street in the upcoming proxy season.

In July, Mimi Blackwell was hired as planned giving program manager to support a new initiative to more proactively support the vitality and growth of Quaker organizations and meetings through effective fundraising and stewardship.

Retreat, Conference, and Study Centers


Friends Center

Friends Center serves as the Quaker hub for peace and justice in Philadelphia, with 37 organizations housed in the building. Recently Friends Center tenant Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) was a leading local voice to prevent damaging changes to the federal healthcare law. They worked closely with U.S. Senator Bob Casey, advocates, and health providers to mobilize ordinary Pennsylvanians to speak out.

Meanwhile, Friends Center’s paid event business keeps the complex busy seven days a week. Recent conferences include the International Theosophists Conference and the Kinks, Locks & Twists conference of New Voices, a human rights and reproductive justice organization dedicated to the health and wellbeing of women of color, especially Black women and girls.

A photo of the Race Street Meetinghouse—the heart of the Friends Center campus—is included in an exhibition at Philadelphia International Airport from July 2017 through mid-2018. The exhibition celebrates the city recently becoming the nation’s first World Heritage City.

In September Friends Center participated for the second time in Park(ing) Day, the international day to reclaim parking spaces for people, not cars. Friends Center built a temporary “parklet” on North 15th Street, with the help of Friends Council on Education, Friends Association for Higher Education, Friends World Committee, and Court Appointed Special Advocates of Philadelphia.

Powell House

The Elsie K. Powell House Committee continues to work on the strategic planning process, aiming to finalize it in January 2018. Specifically, Powell House surveyed constituencies and completed a facility assessment. Powell House continues to seek input and suggestions for this work from yearly meeting attenders and other clients.

Leila Archibald of Fifteenth Street Meeting in New York City served as a summer intern and worked in many areas, including youth and adult programing, food service, maintenance, and administrative tasks.

This spring, Powell House hosted both Friends Seminary and Oakwood Friends School twelfth graders as they prepared for their graduations. Additionally, the Powell House youth program recognized its graduating seniors during the EarthSong retreat for seventh through twelfth graders.

Powell House also hosted a number of non-Quaker events that reflect its impact on the wider communities of which it is a part, including the Downtown Meditation Community’s weeklong silent retreat, several memorial services, a community tea for a local women’s group, and a Law Enforcement Conference focusing on sharing the intervention techniques for abused animals (hosted by nearby Little Brook Farm).

Shorter retreats—half a weekend in length—were tested and found to be successful for both a Junior Yearly Meeting planning event and a “Membership in the Religious Society of Friends” conference.

Woolman Hill Retreat Center

Woolman Hill, in collaboration with New England Yearly Meeting and Marcelle Martin, launched a new nine-month program, “Nurturing Worship, Faith, and Faithfulness,” with a five-day residency in September. Many thanks go to Obadiah Brown’s Benevolent Fund, NEYM Legacy Funds, and the Bogert Fund for scholarship and other support for the program. Woolman Hill is also grateful for Legacy funding that enabled it to offer the racial justice weekend workshop “Say the Wrong Thing” with Amanda Kemp earlier this year.

Woolman Hill has lost a number of f/Friends over the past two years, including Dirk Spruyt, Ann and George Levinger, Georgana Foster, Bill Upholt, Connie Sattler, Connie Comfort, Rick Keller, and Judith Shea, among others. Their wisdom, encouragement, elbow grease, financial support, and friendships are missed.

Woolman Hill also lost an arboreal friend: the majestic maple just south of the main building. In recognition of the many trees that are aging or have already fallen, seven trees (an American linden, three swamp white oak, and three shad) were planted this spring. A beautiful lawn area under a triple sycamore was created to replace the shady sanctuary previously offered by the old maple.

Attention has been given to indoor facilities as well. The conference center’s kitchen bathroom was entirely renovated. Staff and board members are working to assess how best to provide more accessible and private accommodations.

Service and Peace Work Canadian Friends Service Committee

2017 is being heavily promoted in Canada as a year of celebration of the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Canadian Friends Service Committee invites people to consider the following:

Firstly, Indigenous Peoples have lived and exercised sovereignty over the territory of what is now Canada for far longer than 150 years and this past must be acknowledged. Secondly, the confederation of what we call Canada is founded on fraud and the theft and plunder of Indigenous territories, and many ongoing violations of the human rights of Indigenous Peoples have yet to be resolved.

In the spirit of “renewed courage” and the desire to live in a good way, CFSC offers an adapted version of Canadian Yearly Meeting’s Advices and Queries #11: “Be honest with this nation state called Canada. What unpalatable truths might we be evading? When we recognize shortcomings, do not let that discourage you. In worship together we can find the assurance of the Creator’s love and the strength to go on with renewed courage toward a future where the rights and dignity of all peoples are respected.”

In 2016 Canadian Friends found unity with a proposal to take their work of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples “to the next level.” This commitment involves grassroots actions across Canada based on the local opportunities. Reports about this action are available on the CFSC website.

Friends House Moscow

On April 18, Evening Kazan (Russia) reported, with amazement and sympathy, on the story of a tenth-grade pacifist. Since 2010, Russian high school boys have been required to take a course in military preparedness, culminating in a week’s weapons training. But Kamil Sh., a boy from a village school in Tatarstan, refused. “I’m a pacifist. I think it’s just not right for me to assemble and disassemble automatic weapons. I don’t want to spend beautiful days in May playing war.” School administrators threatened to lower Kamil’s grades, and a regional education official frightened his parents, warning that their son was jeopardizing his future.

There have been other such cases. Conscientious objection counselors are developing a strategy: high schools could prepare students for AGS (alternative government service, available to Russian pacifists) by allowing curricular options like medical training.

Kamil turned for help to one of Friends House Moscow’s most trusted partners: For Our Sons, a Kazan organization protecting the rights of conscientious objectors, army conscripts and their families. The organization went into action; they helped Kamil file appeals; they contacted multiple authorities on his behalf, including the regional ombudsman for children’s rights. In the end, Kamil attended his regular classes, school authorities did not press the issue, and, this fall, Kamil expects to begin his alternative government service.

Quaker House

Quaker House directors were on the move this summer visiting many yearly meetings and other conferences. They gave presentations on the history and witness of Quaker House, moral injury, and conscientious objection. Kindra Bradley, the new Quaker House director, was able to go to most of these with Lynn and Steve Newsom, former directors, in order to meet Friends and learn more about Quaker House’s work. She also attended the GI Rights Hotline conference for additional training.

Quaker House GI Rights Hotline counselors were busier than ever, with so many service members struggling with the consequences of being at war for 16 years. The domestic violence, sexual assault, and moral injury therapist saw a rise in clients, along with an increase in the number of children who have been sexually assaulted by an active duty family member. In spite of strong evidence, one stepfather was found innocent and returned to active duty.

Family members contact Quaker House asking for help with their inability to get the support they need from Veterans Affairs. Quaker House is able to connect them with VA officials who see to it that they get the attention they deserve.

So many victims of wars desperately need help. Quaker House is grateful to its supporters who enable them to provide that help.

Quaker Voluntary Service

Quaker Voluntary Service (QVS) is an experiment at the intersection of transformational spirituality and activism. In the QVS program, young adults work full-time in professional positions at community-based organizations addressing a wide range of issues, while living in a cooperative house in partnership with local Quakers.

The strategy of QVS is two-fold: it seeks to address immediate issues of justice and inequity by expanding the capacity of the service site placement organizations where Fellows work, while simultaneously preparing the next generation of leaders working to build a society in which the symptoms of injustice no longer exist.

By centering this experience in intentional Quaker community, and inviting young adult participants into a deeper relationship with themselves and their own understanding of spirituality, participants are better able to integrate their values, practices, motivations, and identities in such a way that their work can be grounded in love and joy, rather than the fear and aggression that plague many people. QVS is a year of reflection and training to prepare the participant for a whole life committed to peace, justice, and equality.

QVS now has a strong community of over 100 alumni working in the world, and has just entered its sixth program year.

William Penn House

WPH continues to be inspired by the outpouring of witness and activism for peace and justice in recent months. WPH hosted activists from across the United States and supported their faithful witness during the March for Science, the People’s Climate March, and Friends Committee on National Legislation’s Vigil to Save Medicaid. The house has been blessed with guests from Young Evangelicals for Climate Action and the Center for Popular Democracy as well as individuals coming to Washington, D.C., to advocate for justice. As in years past, participants in FCNL’s Spring Lobby Weekend and Advocacy Corps filled the house with joyful energy and commitment.

WPH has seen increased interest and energy in social justice education programs. WPH led its eleventh annual workcamp in Louisiana, working with community-based activists in New Orleans and the Isle de Jean Charles Indigenous community in efforts to respond to climate change and political marginalization. WPH also returned to Caretta, W.V., for the seventeenth year, supporting local activists and building bridges across cultural and political divides.

WPH led seven educational programs in Washington, including a seminar on foreign policy held by a class from Earlham College, and a service-learning program focused on food justice attended by middle school classes from Richmond Friends School in Indiana and Cambridge Friends School in Massachusetts.

Youth Service Opportunities Project

YSOP has had a busy, rewarding summer with groups and schools from all over the country serving the homeless and hungry in New York City and Washington, D.C. YSOP offers service-learning programs for students from seventh grade through graduate school. It also has programs from time to time for groups of adults. All programs offer hands-on service to homeless and hungry folks framed by an orientation and reflection facilitated by YSOP staff.

The D.C. program featured an interfaith dinner with Christian, Jewish, and Muslim youth groups preparing, serving, and sharing a dinner party with homeless guests. The evening was a lot of fun, and the groups that participated indicated interest in doing more together. YSOP’s New York program saw a renewed interest in summer Overnight Workcamps, a popular three-season program not typically offered in the summer. YSOP is thrilled with the enthusiasm and dedication of student volunteers wanting to serve people in need for a 24-hour period, when some might decline that opportunity because of the summer heat.

YSOP has added a New York program coordinator to increase outreach to new schools, religious and community youth groups, and the service agencies it partners with to provide meaningful experiences for volunteers, including soup kitchens, food pantries, urban gardens and farms, and transitional housing.


The post Quaker Works October 2017 appeared first on Friends Journal.


Mon, 2017-09-25 02:50

He has been instructed to take shelter under his mother’s cloak
and leans on the dark of her presence
listening to the vanished spray and rain outside and the occasional shout.
The dark has become solid and is no longer open jagged night,
and his sister is somewhere on the other side.
They will not know much about it
if disaster strike—
“Mum, Mum” in Arabic
and then their mouths stopped with dark.

There is no comparison, no, no comparison with my experience.

Yes, it would be obscene to make comparison even though
there were hundreds of us sleeping on the deck
of that fragile Greek ferry fifty years ago
listening to the ancient engine
pumping the distance. But,
no, there is no comparison,
don’t try.

I am. Be not afraid.” His cloak put aside,
the waves and the wind died down as he spoke to them—
so the texts say,
and their shudderings also died down.
“What manner of man is this?”
they would ask later. What father-mother,
What I am?

But, no, trust makes no comparison.
I too am making a journey,
that is all, I too wait in dark, listening to outside rain,
I too will not know much about it
when disaster strike.

I too am a migrant.

The post Trust appeared first on Friends Journal.

Charlottesville Quakers and the Ongoing Stand against White Nationalists

Wed, 2017-09-13 13:21

Charlottesville Friends in worship at Justice Park. Photo by David Lewis.


As Charlottesville (Va.) Meeting ended our meeting for business in worshipful silence last week, there was the sense that the meeting had accomplished something of lasting importance. In that gathering we committed to participate in the Sanctuary Movement, agreeing that our meeting should take part in the effort to shelter and protect people in need regardless of their citizenship status. We also passed a minute in support of a vigil in front of the White House to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). That first Sunday in September was the first meeting for business at Charlottesville Friends since August 12, when the rally of white nationalists converged on our city carrying torches and shouting slogans taken straight from the Nazi party. On that day Charlottesville resident Heather Heyer was killed by a white nationalist plowing his car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters (the U.S. Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into the attack and the FBI has said it meets the definition of domestic terrorism). Our meeting tried to deliver the most powerful rebuke we could to the purveyors of hate who descended on Charlottesville. Faced with their calls to eliminate Jews, Muslims, and people of color, we redoubled our efforts to love our neighbors. Quakers’ only possible response to an onslaught of hate can be to affirm our commitment to peace and justice.

I have been a part of Charlottesville Meeting since starting graduate school at the University of Virginia in 2014. A little over a year ago my wife, Aida, and I were married under its care. It’s relatively large for a Quaker meeting, with enough people to hold two meetings for worship each week. I’ve been on the Peace and Social Concerns Committee almost as long as I’ve been with the meeting. After the presidential election last November unleashed a wave of racial and religious hostility, the justice work of our meeting took on a fiercer urgency. The Charlottesville Meetinghouse is now adorned with new signs of support for Black Lives Matter, the LGBTQ community, and refugees, while our budgets for outreach have increased.

For the past eight months we’ve contemplated what it would mean to become a sanctuary congregation like Mountain View Meeting in Denver, Colorado, and to support an undocumented person who requested our help. We collaborated with several regional organizations working on immigration issues and ultimately joined a local network of other congregations committed to assisting immigrants. Yet concerns remained among us that this step should only be taken with due seasoning. The events of August 12 led the Charlottesville Friends to commit fully to the idea of sanctuary and immigrant rights.

During that weekend, opposing the forces and threats that were on display was no minor feat, and it would be understandable that some would respond by trying to move on to more comfortable issues. The night the white nationalist demonstrators arrived, my wife and I were at a community prayer service intended to denounce white supremacy. They gathered across the street from the church, carrying torches and yelling “Hail Victory!,” the English translation of the German Nazis party’s Sieg Heil. We could not see them, but as we sang with the assembled people of Charlottesville, I was sure I could hear them through the walls of the church sanctuary chanting “White Lives Matter.”

The next day Aida and I went with many members of our meeting to a worship vigil in Justice Park, about a five-minute walk from the so-called alt-right rally in Charlottesville’s Emancipation Park (the “alt-right” is an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism, anti-Semitism, and populism). We hoped our vigil would give public expression to the nonviolence that our peace testimony demands and provide a witness against intolerance. The meeting had made signs that declared “Quakers for Peace and Justice” and “Quakers think Black Lives Matter.” We settled down to worship as overhead police helicopters made noise that filled our silence (later that day one of them would crash outside town, killing the two officers aboard). Various counter-protest groups passed by, one with musical instruments and another with a banner and a smattering of shields that made it look like a ramshackle medieval army. Some people in the park took photos of us, and a few stopped to join our worship. After about 45 minutes, we ended worship. When Aida and I left, carrying signs back to the meetinghouse, we barely avoided an approaching fascist mob waving Confederate flags and shields emblazoned with Crusaders’ crosses.

I felt afraid the entire time, afraid in the same streets where I go shopping with friends or walk with my wife after a satisfying dinner. As a Quaker of Jewish descent, I found the anti-Semitism of the new white nationalism particularly threatening. Their shouts demanded Jews leave the country; they threatened to burn down the synagogue in town and derided one of my friends who happened to walk nearby for having a Jewish appearance. Aida is Latina, and as we walked past gaggles of white nationalists armed with clubs, I was concerned for her safety as well.


I still don’t know what to think about the events of August 12. Did we do enough? Could we have done more? As a Quaker, I know we try to conduct ourselves in peace even as we condemn hatred. Still, the events remain too wrapped in apprehensiveness and anxiety for me to disentangle.

I am sure that the need for Quakers to speak on issues of justice became clearer to me than ever before. Seeing the white nationalists here, arrayed in battle gear as if they were going to fight a war and venting unrepeatable hatred at almost every imaginable group of people, showed that we face those who discount the very basis of our beliefs. Often the differences Quakers have with others are issues of methods; we assume a more peaceful and equal world is a goal for everyone and hence we are used to arguing about how, and not whether, to achieve it. As a consequence, it is easy to be lulled into slow or no action because of the complexities of the issues we face. Those who identify themselves as part of the alt-right unarguably do not agree with our principles. Their goal is white supremacy, and they have no qualms about provoking or using violence. They remind us that our convictions are not banal, and that to search for “that of God in everyone” has never ceased to be a provocative message since George Fox delivered it to the seekers gathered around Firbank Fell.


In that spirit, the Charlottesville Meeting passed a minute supporting DACA and the planned vigil at the White House. We expressed our approval for DACA by invoking the words of John Woolman: “To consider mankind otherwise than brethren, to think favors are peculiar to one nation and exclude others, plainly supposes a darkness in the understanding.” We also took steps to become a sanctuary congregation, committing to stand with immigrants and those in need. Churches participating in the New Sanctuary Movement across the nation have offered shelter to undocumented immigrants because Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) currently does not raid houses of worship.

I do not pretend that passing minutes in a Quaker meeting for business is revolutionary or that it offers a solution to the threat of the resurgent white nationalism. I do believe that there is hope in the fact that events as horrific as August 12 can be a rallying cry for Quakers to do more, to be braver and more outspoken. Lucretia Mott once asked an audience of abolitionists, “if our principles be right, why should we be cowards?” It’s a sentiment that Quakers today are still trying to live out.

The post Charlottesville Quakers and the Ongoing Stand against White Nationalists appeared first on Friends Journal.

New Worldwide Quaker Map Released

Wed, 2017-09-13 12:07

Where are the Quakers in the world? The World Office of the Friends World Committee for Consultation released a new map of worldwide Quaker population figures, its first such release since 2012. The figures released show a Quaker population worldwide of approximately 380,000. A map showing the 2017 Quaker figures can be downloaded from the FWCC World Office.

An earlier version of this Friends Journal article compared 2017 numbers with figures from FWCC’s 2012 map, which gave a misleading indication of growth and decline in various yearly meetings. FWCC wrote to us that the “numbers are so small that the kind of simplistic statistical analysis” won’t give accurate results. They explained:

We collect the data that is available from all kinds and sizes of monthly and yearly meetings who count Friends in many different ways. We gather the data with an appreciation for differing definitions and even levels of membership. In our non-hierarchical relationship with the Quaker family, we work with what we are given. It is far from being an exact process; rather, we offer the gift of helping us all see a visual representation of where Friends live and worship.

This inconsistency exists within each Section, including in North America, where meetings do not have a standard way to count their members, attenders, and children. FWCC has the task and the good fortune to be inclusive and appreciative of differences within and across Sections, and indeed around the world. We would invite a similar generosity of spirit among Friends.

In this iteration, we made some decisions in the collecting and reporting of data to reflect the fact that yearly meetings acknowledge who is part of their community in different ways. Even when there are reported statistics, they do not line up categorically making comparisons difficult. Therefore there was no intention to construct “trends” by producing this new map.


The post New Worldwide Quaker Map Released appeared first on Friends Journal.

September Full Issue Access

Fri, 2017-09-01 03:40
Members can download the full PDF or read any article online (see links below). Features: “God as a Cow and the Duck Index” by Tina Tau, “Ah, Go Fly a Kite!” by Charles G. Jones, “Quaker Bestsellers” from the 2017 FGC Gathering, “Quaker Faith, Quaker Practice, and Quaker Boards” by Jacob D. Stone, “A Community Formed for Faithfulness” by Marcelle Martin, and “A Mysticism for Our Time” by🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
Not an FJ member? To read this piece, please join us today! For $28, you'll get:
  • A year of Friends Journal delivered to your mailbox (11 issues) and email
  • Full, instant access to the world’s largest online library of Quaker information: every Friends Journal ever published, going back to 1955
  • Membership in a community that believes in the power of Quaker experience
Click here to join us! Already a member? Welcome back. Please use the Login box to sign in. If you would like to order by phone or have any questions, we’re here to help. Call toll-free: (800)471-6863 or contact us by email.

The post September Full Issue Access appeared first on Friends Journal.

Among Friends: Quaker Tools, New and Revisited

Fri, 2017-09-01 03:35

If you are a Friends Journal reader who first heads to the Milestones section when a new issue arrives in your mailbox, you’re not alone. It is not at all rare, in my travels, for me to talk with a reader who tells me that this is exactly their habit. Often they will disclose this practice with a note of mild embarrassment, as though there were one right way to read the Journal and this represented a rebellious act. I am always reassuring in response. There’s nothing shameful at all about delighting in reading outlines of the remarkable lives Friends have lived.

A less common pleasure in this magazine’s pages is the memoir of a Quaker life in progress. Our editorial calendar of themed issues does not often permit much room for this genre, but this month we have the privilege of bringing you, our reader, “God as a Cow and the Duck Index,” a piece by contributor Tina Tau that brims with integrity, self-reflection, pathos, and humor. Tau’s central conceit also allowed our graphic designer, Alla Podolsky, some room for creative improvisation.


One of the classic Quaker lives is that of Thomas Kelly, the theologian and mystic who gave us A Testament of Devotion. I have to admit that I have always found Kelly to be one of the more relatable giants of Quaker thought, probably because his life seemed to have the kinds of imperfections I recognize in my own life and in the lives of people I know. He’s not a saint possessed of impossible selflessness, but a flesh-and-blood human with ambitions, anxieties, and disappointments, coupled with a connection to the Spirit rooted in an experience he documents with the vigor of a theologian and the descriptive flourish of a poet.

In “A Mysticism for Our Time,” L. Roger Owens delves into both A Testament of Devotion and Kelly’s letters to bring Friends Journal readers a window into Kelly’s life that illuminates just how clearly Kelly perceived and experienced the link between suffering and joy. Kelly wrote his most enduring works after emerging from a personal breakdown and depression into clarity and passion. As it happened, he would only have a few years left to live, and these in a world at the precipice of war. Not to minimize the angst so many feel in today’s U.S. political and social climate since the election of Donald Trump, but it is a gift that Owens sidesteps the opportunity to draw cheap-shot parallels between Third Reich Germany and 2017 America. There’s a deeper and more durable lesson to be taught about fear and the human condition, which we can all carry with us in crystallizing and responding to our own concerns.

The mission of Friends Journal is to communicate Quaker experience in order to connect and deepen spiritual lives. This mission, of course, rests on the assertion that the very sharing of what Friends experience can forge connections and foster depth of spirit—no matter whether the reader or viewer is a Quaker or not. “A Mysticism for Our Time” is the kind of piece that proves this assertion is grounded in truth. Owens, who is an associate professor of Christian spirituality and ministry at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, studies a great Quaker thinker and distills a fresh and vivid definition of a key Quaker term, concern, that risks decaying into a cliche if not reexamined. It’s a powerful Quaker tool that every one of us can bring into our community, no matter how we define that community. I hope you’ll let us know what you think.

The post Among Friends: Quaker Tools, New and Revisited appeared first on Friends Journal.

Forum, September 2017

Fri, 2017-09-01 03:30
Overworked caregivers can also use support I also have seen many, many people die, but from the other side of the bed (“A Quaker Approach to Living with Dying” by Katherine Jaramillo, FJ Aug. online). For the past 20 years, I have worked as a registered nurse. I grew up a Quaker, and my mother was a recorded Quaker minister. This past autumn, she slowly declined after breast cancer cells that were resistant to chemotherapy took off through her body like a drug-resistant organism, taking over her liver and bones. In🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
Not an FJ member? To read this piece, please join us today! For $28, you'll get:
  • A year of Friends Journal delivered to your mailbox (11 issues) and email
  • Full, instant access to the world’s largest online library of Quaker information: every Friends Journal ever published, going back to 1955
  • Membership in a community that believes in the power of Quaker experience
Click here to join us! Already a member? Welcome back. Please use the Login box to sign in. If you would like to order by phone or have any questions, we’re here to help. Call toll-free: (800)471-6863 or contact us by email.

The post Forum, September 2017 appeared first on Friends Journal.

God as a Cow and the Duck Index

Fri, 2017-09-01 03:25

I’m a city-dwelling woman, with nothing remotely agricultural going on. I have no chickens, no garden, not even a dog—but my spiritual life features livestock.

On a recent Sunday I decided to go to worship with Friends. A decade ago I was a leader in this Quaker congregation, but I’ve rarely attended in the last few years. Walking toward the meetinghouse, I saw the back of my 94-year-old friend Ann and ran up the sidewalk to pat her on the back of her blue jacket. She turned and hugged me and said, “I thought you might be here. You have a way of showing up when you’re needed. With all these deaths lately . . .” She introduced me to her companions: “She was a great clerk. I remember her saying she was a cow, and we were her calves.”

“No, no, no,” I said, laughing. “God is a cow.” I explained to her friends: “I’ve lived with cows, and you have to show up to milk them every day at the same time, or they’re in pain. It’s all about faithfulness. You have to show up for God the same way—it’s a relationship. It’s not like a river where you come and dip your cup, and it makes no difference to the river. It’s about being there for the sacred in yourself, and for . . .” I waved my arms around, indicating some kind of flow between me and an invisible something.

Ann gripped her cane and followed us into the meetinghouse. “Oh, that’s a much better twist. I like that better.”

I took a seat in the quiet meetingroom. Half an hour or so into the silence, another old friend of mine stood up. “It’s one of those days when I can feel the Spirit alive in this room, and it has moved me to stand and speak, though I don’t know yet what I’m going to say.” She spoke about the rain on the skylight and then, looking across the room, added, “My friends tell me to take myself less seriously. I see Tina here, and I remember when she told us that God was a cow.”

I shook my head, startled, wondering why this cow story was so present.


Like much of the stuff I know, I got this image from a dream. God, a big long-horned cow, is mad at me for not showing up reliably to milk her, and she is tossing me on her horns. After one high toss, a hand reaches out and catches me.

In my youth I was responsible for the morning milking of a Jersey cow. I loved that job: leaning my head against the huge, hairy, warm wall of cow; being skillful and rhythmic with my hands; hearing the pinging stream of milk hit the bucket; and carrying the warm bucket back to the kitchen.

I knew what a burden the cow carried. I knew it would be painful, and then make her sick if we didn’t milk her twice a day, every day, same time. I would never have decided one morning to sleep in, or to skip a milking because I had something “better” to do. I was responsible to this living being, so I made it to the barn every morning.

When I had the dream—years after I knew that cow—I’d just moved back to Oregon after working at a Quaker retreat center in Pennsylvania. We started every workday there with a half-hour of silence. I cherished that quiet time together: students, staff, teachers, sitting down in the old stone-walled meetingroom, placing ourselves in the stream of the sacred to start our day.

In Oregon, I jumped back into a noisy world. Sitting down for half an hour of silence by myself every morning wasn’t even a shadowy desire; it never occurred to me. The list—clean the sinks, plant the peas, please my boss—ran my life.

Then I had the dream. It was quite a corrective to my fantasy that my failures affected no one but me. What if my inability to sit quietly every morning was causing some living being actual pain, like a cow that doesn’t get milked? Ow!

Up to that moment, I’d operated along on the river model of God, the one I told to Ann’s friends in front of the meetinghouse. If I’m thirsty I can go down to the river, but the river doesn’t know—or care—whether I come or not. The river is enormous, endless, so big that I am irrelevant to its flowing. Not that I actually thought of God as a river, but it was a good picture of my lack of obligation and my lack of importance.

That is such a different model from the cow. The river lays no burden on me, and the metaphor doesn’t begin to get at the sense of belonging and connection, of being knitted in, that I now believe is key to living a happy life.

I understood the dream’s message, but I didn’t do anything about it.


In 1984, a few years before the cow dream, I had an important dream about horses. I don’t have much waking experience of horses: I can ride but not well. Nonetheless, this jeweled fairy tale of a dream, which I call “Ask for Horses,” has stayed bright in my heart for over 30 years:

I live in a mountain village in Central Asia. Some peddlers suddenly and mysteriously arrive, and lay out trade goods on a carpet. Someone taps my shoulder. I know it is the shy, ragged person called the bird-girl, who came with the peddlers.

“Don’t turn around. Do you think they will give you a gift?”

I ponder this strange question. Why would the peddlers give me a gift? Finally, I conclude that to keep the story going I have to say yes.

The voice behind me, relieved, says, “Good. Then you must ask for horses. They will expect you to choose one of the trinkets on the carpet, but they have a herd of Siberian horses off on the steppe. They will have to give them to you if you ask. They won’t like it, but they’ll do it.”

I walk all night, working up the nerve to ask. I never ask, but I believe there is still time.

This dream went very deep into my bloodstream. Ever since I heard those whispered instructions from the bird-girl, I’ve wondered about them.

Where do I say yes to the possibility of some mysterious gift?

How do I ask not for trinkets, or what’s laid out for me, but for something so amazing and alive and challenging that it will blow my life open? Something I can’t see from here, something far away.

You could say that this story played out in 1995 when I asked my second husband to marry me (after living together for four years) so we could adopt a girl from China. The two brilliant little girls that became our daughters—now in college—are surely horses in the spirit of the dream. It was hard to ask for them; I was afraid to ask. We had to travel a long way to get them, and they did indeed blow my life and heart wide open.

Though it did play out in that miraculous way on other levels of my life, I’m still in the middle of the Ask for Horses adventure. Those questions are as alive in me as they ever were.


The cow taught me faithfulness. The horses keep teaching me courage. Ducks, on the other hand, are on a mission for joy.

They didn’t come from a dream. They came from a book about the Nonviolent Communication program. Marshall Rosenberg, who developed NVC, suggested we have these unspoken words behind any request we make:

“Please do as I requested only if you can do so with the joy of a little child feeding a hungry duck.” (Not out of fear of punishment, or a need to please. Not from guilt, shame, duty or obligation, or desire for reward.)

Judith and Ike Lasater, who wrote a book called What We Say Matters about how Nonviolent Communication works in their family, expanded this idea into a duck index. It’s a scale of one to ten. Ten is the full-on joy of feeding hungry ducks, and one is no ducks at all. When wondering whether to do something, like go to a party or take on a job, Ike and Judith check in with themselves to see how high it is on the duck index. The prospect has to have at least five ducks for them to go ahead.

I love this concept. I am a pest with it. Whenever I hear someone trying to make a decision, I leap in with the duck index. I even have my own version, which is, “I know what a yes feels like, and everything else is a no.”

I do know what a yes feels like. It happens in my chest, like warmth; or in my belly, like a gong going off; or on my skin, like goosebumps. I know what a no feels like, too: a sinking feeling in my stomach; a flooded, confused feeling in my head. But I haven’t been good on the maybes. I can easily confuse a desire to please with a yes if I’m not paying attention. Just a couple of years ago, someone I admired, a hard-working volunteer, asked me to take over the chairmanship of a committee. I said yes because I wanted his approval, wanted to belong, and wanted to be a giver instead of a taker. I didn’t check to see if there were ducks in it. If I’d checked, there would have been three ducks: not enough. And it turned out to be full of stressful inter-committee politics. I could have saved myself a pile of grief had I paid better attention to my body’s clues before I took the job.

If I really lived my days following ducks, I’d have a lot of fun, like being in a parade. But the problem is that it’s been hard for me to accept that if it’s not a clear yes, everything else is a no. In a way, my maxim is stricter than the Lasaters’ duck index—at least they have room for gradations. Mine is stricter because I’m sorely inclined to do things in the “maybe” territory.


I offer these lovely teachings to anyone who will listen:

  • Cow: Be faithful to a daily practice of silence and presence and listening. Accept that what you do, or don’t do, matters to the whole.
  • Horses: Ask big. Ask bravely. Don’t settle.
  • Ducks: Do only what makes your heart sing.

Those teachings came to me and stuck to me, not because I was so wise, but because I was a mess. I was almost frantic since I was about 13. I lived in more than 40 places by the time I was 40, and several more since then. All that moving made it hard to live a life that had any discipline to it. I do now have a daily habit of meditation, but it took me about 24 years after having the cow dream to calm down enough to make it happen.

I’m also naturally inclined to settle for what’s on the table (the peddler’s carpet), not to ask big. My two marriages come to mind: I expertly squeezed myself—well past the point of hurting—into relationships where I did not quite fit. I got smaller and lonelier, and, in the case of my second husband, scared. And truly, most of my life has been lived by anything but ducks. I’ve acted a million times from fear or a sense of obligation. And I will again.

The two dreams had to be dramatic to get my attention. Ducks had to come parading into my mind like a set of bells. I’m so grateful to my animal guides—not wild creatures like a bear or wolf or eagle, but beautiful everyday animals—for recognizing my need, and sticking with me all these years.

Maybe the reason that the story of God as a cow was so present at meeting on that Sunday was because it was time to write about it. Or maybe it was because I need that story right now. Four people in the meeting had died in the span of a month. One died by jumping off a building. She too was a mother of an adopted Chinese girl; I helped support her through the Chinese adoption maze. Our daughters knew each other when they were little. And the previous Saturday, my boyfriend and I broke up after eight rich years. There’s blood and heartbreak in the water right now, and I have need of the milk of that cow. It helps to be reminded not only of my obligation to show up, but of the generosity of whatever is on the other side of this arrangement—the big invisible flank I’m leaning my head on, the warm, frothy, life-giving food.

The post God as a Cow and the Duck Index appeared first on Friends Journal.

Ah, Go Fly a Kite!

Fri, 2017-09-01 03:20

© Charles G. Jones

When I was a boy, people used to say that my head was always in the clouds. Looking skyward, I wondered what was up there. I watched airplanes, birds, clouds, the colors in the sky, and the breezes in the trees. When I heard an airplane or bird, my head turned upward until I spotted it. At night I dreamt about flying.

I would build a big kite out of bamboo and plastic, go to a field after school and test it, write some notes, take it home and rework it, then return the next day to test it again. At some point, I visited the kite store in San Francisco, California, and came away with a kite magazine and a few kites. The kites were fighter kites, now called “single-line maneuverable” kites. They go in the direction they are pointed until you put slack in the line; the nose shifts direction, and you pull on it. Off it goes in that new direction. “Wow! This is cool!” I thought. I began building my own. That’s about the time I discovered the American Kitefliers Association (AKA), a national kite organization full of grown people flying kites!

Kite flying has almost always taken my worries away. Once that kite leaves my hands, my worries go with it. I think it is tied to mindfulness. Many people who have hobbies or meditative activities feel stress and worries drift away, once they begin. Their stress is replaced with a sense of joy, and that joy goes with them when they leave the kite field to continue their lives.

A Quaker friend once told me that he felt that my soul was somehow tied to the great beyond, to that outer limit. At one of the Friends General Conference Gatherings in Blacksburg, Virginia, co-clerk Peggy Spohr suggested that I consider presenting a kite workshop for FGC. I started with my yearly meeting, then signed up to present at the Gathering. This past summer, I conducted my third FGC Gathering workshop.

One reason kite making fits in so well with FGC is the joy that is expressed while making kites and flying them. There are so many metaphors relating kites and flying them to the Spirit and our relationship to the Divine. Even the Hebrew word for spirit is the same as the word for wind: ruack (pronounced “roo’-akh”).

We make about four kites in our five-day Gathering workshop. The first is always an Eddy bow kite, the more stable version of the diamond kite. Then we decorate the kite before going out, where we tie the kites together and fly them cooperatively. This brings up all sorts of discussion about working together and how we need each other to “fly high.” I am reminded of the Greek myth about Daedalus and his son Icarus. Not only were they escaping prison, but I can’t help but think that they were flying toward God as they flew higher and higher. But they needed each other, and had Icarus stayed closer to his dad, they would have made it. Recall, Icarus flew too close to the sun; the wax holding his feathered wings together melted, and he plunged to his death.

We also learn how to tie several knots in the first part of the week. (This, of course, also has metaphors in life.) By learning these early in the week, we can use them throughout the week while making the other kites. We have made delta kites, indoor “floaters” made from dry cleaner bags, Rokkaku kites (Japanese hexagonal kites), box kites, and fighter kites. Typically I design my workshops so that the kites we make can be flown indoors or in very light winds, because we are usually around buildings and trees which create turbulent conditions. Our kites can be flown indoors by simply walking backward, but they can later be rebuilt with heavier sticks to fly in stronger winds when the participants get home. Also I design the kites to be dismantled so they can be safely taken home. And there is usually time to decorate the kites using permanent colored markers or acrylic paints. We always try to make time to fly them as well.

The final days of the workshop are spent building what I call the “mystery kite.” I don’t tell the workshop participants ahead of time what that kite will be, as a way to add some suspense. Really! It depends on what people want to build, in addition to what kites are more suited to that year’s participants. I always bring enough supplies to build six or seven types of kites. This gives me leeway to change throughout the week. The mystery kite tends to be more complicated, requiring skills acquired by learning throughout the week. Having a mystery kite is not unlike our life in the Spirit: oftentimes surprising; always mysterious; and, if we approach with an open mind, joyous.

What do people mean when they tell you to go fly a kite? Typically it means to get lost, go away, or leave them alone. But I find it to be a welcome invitation. Kite flying is about being joyful and loving, fun-loving and conscientious. In flying kites, like in our spiritual journeys, we must have hope, faith, and love.

The post Ah, Go Fly a Kite! appeared first on Friends Journal.