Thoughts for the week – 2020-2021

Over 2020 and 2021 during the restrictions on meeting in person caused by the COVID-19 pandemic we had a new “thought for the week” each week, with the hope that it may be used as an aid to our “gathering” as a meeting each Sunday morning.

18.09.2021 78. Love

“Love is the bridge between you and everything.”

Rumi (1207-1273)

This quote is attributed to Rumi all over the internet, but unlike last week, I have not been able to find the original poem to share online. According to Wikipedia, Rumi was a poet, Hanafi faqih, Islamic scholar, Maturidi theologian, and Sufi mystic originally from Greater Khorasan in Greater Iran ( 

suggested by Sue Cariss and Julia Hargreaves

04.09.2021 77. Light

“The lamps are all different, but the light is the same.”

Rumi (1207-1273)

According to Wikipedia, Rumi was a poet, Hanafi faqih, Islamic scholar, Maturidi theologian, and Sufi mystic originally from Greater Khorasan in Greater Iran ( The quote is from the  poem “One One One”, which can be found here:

suggested by Sue Cariss and Julia Hargreaves

27.08.2021 76. Hope

“For us in these times, to even have hope is too abstract, too detached, too spectatorial. Instead we must be a hope, a participant and a force for good as we face this catastrophe.

Cornel West, 2016″

Suggested by Chris Hart, who has been researching Sam Donaldson. Sam gave the Gorman Lecture ( at this year’s Yearly Meeting Gathering. The quote above is from Cornel West ( shortly after the US presidential election in 2016 and is the preface to Sam’s poetry collection, “these days, the end-times” (

21.08.2021 75. Love poured out

“Jesus entered as he did, where he did, doing what he did, because God needed us to finally comprehend the truth: God is not a sky king who heads an empire; God is the love that gives itself away for the sake of more love. Jesus could only communicate that point by standing outside the power structures and inviting disciples to join him and discover new life with him on the margins.

Fr Richard Rohr”

Suggested by Peter Toms
Part of a daily meditation; the full text is here:

13.08.2021 74. From the Concluding Minute of Quakers in Britain Yearly Meeting Gathering 2021

“May that holy and loving Spirit fill us with compassionate courage. May we truly build loving, inclusive and welcoming communities in which all can be heard, valued and supported in our needs and our leadings. May we listen deeply and may we be deep-spirited Friends.

Clare Scott Booth, clerk”

Suggested by Chris Hart

07.08.2021 73. A Buddhist perspective on change

“The greatest hindrance to following the Way is a solid mind – a mind that is hardened by old ideas, and thinks it has nothing to learn. The greatest help to following the Way is a liquid mind – a mind that can be shaped by new ideas, and knows it has much to learn”.

This is an interpretation of part of the sutra of Hui-neng, from A World Religions Bible, by Robert van de Weber.

suggested by Julia Hargreaves.

Dajian Huineng (638 – 713), is a semi-legendary but central figure in the early history of Chinese Chan Buddhism. According to tradition he was an uneducated layman who suddenly attained awakening upon hearing the Diamond Sutra, and regarded as the founder of the “Sudden Enlightenment” Southern Chan school of Buddhism.

30.07.2021 (Friday) 72. What does love require of us?

“Some day, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. Then for the second time in the history of the World we will have discovered fire. 

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin”

Suggested by Chris Yates.
This thought is quoted in the Kindler’s booklet, “What does love require of us? Quaker promptings towards love and action”, by David Brown. All the Kindlers booklets can be found here: Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) was a French Jesuit priest, scientist, paleontologist, theologian, philosopher and teacher.

22.07.2021 (Thursday) 71. Quaker Faith and Practice 23.14

“Our gracious Creator cares and provides for all his creatures. His tender mercies are over all his works; and so far as his love influences our minds, so far we become interested in his workmanship and feel a desire to take hold of every opportunity to lessen the distresses of the afflicted and increase the happiness of the creation. Here we have a prospect of one common interest from which our own is inseparable, that to turn all the treasures we possess into the channel of universal love becomes the business of our lives… Oppression in the extreme appears terrible: but oppression in more refined appearances remains to be oppression; and where the smallest degree of it is cherished it grows stronger and more extensive. To labour for a perfect redemption from this spirit of oppression is the great business of the whole family of Christ Jesus in this world.

John Woolman, 1763″

Suggested by Pat Saunders. John Woolman (1720–1772) was an American merchant, tailor, journalist, Quaker preacher, and early abolitionist during the colonial era. He traveled through the American frontier to preach Quaker beliefs, and advocate against slavery and the slave trade, cruelty to animals, economic injustices and oppression, and conscription. In 1772, Woolman traveled to England (including Settle!), where he urged Quakers to support abolition of slavery. He kept a journal throughout his life; it was published posthumously, entitled The Journal of John Woolman (1774) and  has been continuously in print since 1774.

10.07.2021 70. Quaker Faith and Practice, Advices and Queries 12.

“When you are preoccupied and distracted in meeting let wayward and disturbing thoughts give way quietly to your awareness of God’s presence among us and in the world. Receive the vocal ministry of others in a tender and creative spirit. Reach for the meaning deep within it, recognising that even if it is not God’s word for you, it may be so for others. Remember that we all share responsibility for the meeting for worship whether our ministry is in silence or through the spoken word.”

suggested by Julia Hargreaves

10.07.2021 69. Past, present and future…

“If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present… gratefully.”

Maya Angelou

Suggested by Sue Cariss. Maya Angelou (1928–2014) was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years.

3.07.2021 68. Quaker Faith and Practice, Advices and Queries 2

“Bring the whole of your life under the ordering of the spirit of Christ. Are you open to the healing power of God’s love? Cherish that of God within you, so that this love may grow in you and guide you. Let your worship and your daily life enrich each other. Treasure your experience of God, however it comes to you. Remember that Christianity is not a notion but a way.”

Suggested by Julia Hargreaves

26.06.2021 67. A Cherokee prayer

“Oh great spirit,
Help me always to speak the truth quietly,
To listen with an open mind when others speak
And to remember the peace that may be found in the silence”

Suggested by Sue Cariss

Further reading: A Quaker initiative – Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples –
“Native Americans suffer the lowest life expectancy and highest rates of infant mortality, teen suicide, murdered women, and unemployment, compared with all other Americans. These horrors have not come about by accident. They are the ongoing consequences of deliberate policies carried out by European and American governments and Christian denominations since the 15th century. The existence today of more than 550 Indigenous nations within US borders attests to their spiritual and cultural strength as sovereign peoples. … Our goal is not to induce guilt, but to see ourselves — Native and non-Native Americans — and our institutions more clearly. What do truth and justice ask of us? How can we take steps to support healing?”

19.06.2021 66. The concluding paragraph of ‘How to stay sane in an age of division’ by Elif Shafak. 

“We have all the tools to build our societies anew, reform our ways of thinking, fix the inequalities and end discriminations and choose earnest wisdom over snippets of information, choose empathy over hatred, choose humanism over tribalism, yet we don’t have much time or room for error while we are losing our planet, our only home. After the pandemic we won’t go back to the ways things were before. And we shouldn’t. ‘What we call the beginning is often the end, the end is where we start from.'”

(The final quote is from “Little Gidding” the Four Quartets, by TS Eliot, 1941.)

Suggested by Anne Ogley

11.6.2021 65. Quaker Faith and Practice, Advices and Queries 26

“Try to make your home a place of loving friendship and enjoyment, where all who live or visit may find the peace and refreshment of God’s presence”

Suggested by Marian McNichol with the following ministry – I chose this advice as offering and receiving hospitality is a core aspect of how I want to live my life, it has been hard to see it restricted during the pandemic and hopefully in building back better we will see a flourishing of welcome within our homes and communities.

5.6.2021 64. A quote from Gandhi

“I object to violence because when it appears to do good the good it does is only temporary and the evil it does is permanent”

Suggested by Sue Cariss

According to wikipedia – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869–1948) was an Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist, and political ethicist, who employed nonviolent resistance to lead the successful campaign for India’s independence from British rule, and in turn inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.

29.05.2021 63. A prayer

“May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships
So that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and
To turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done,
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.”
(Author unknown)

Mark Houston shared this with me. He found it in the weekly catholic newsletter.  I (jules) know Mark through the Churches together in Settle and district Justice and Peace Group. 

Some information on the author here:

22.05.2021 62. A quote from Sojourner Truth 

“… the Truth is all powerful and it prevails.”

Suggested by Jamie Campdell

Another remarkable person to learn about this week! Sojourner Truth (1797-1883) was an American abolitionist and women’s rights activist:

15.05.2021 61. Quaker Faith and Practice 2.13

“True silence … is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment”.

William Penn, 1699 

Suggested by Julia Hargreaves, who says… It was amazing how much serenity I received this week from my first open water swim of the year. I was in the water for only a few minutes…

08.05.2021 60. From epistle #5 (1652), George Fox 

“Ye have no time, but this present time: therefore, prize your time for your souls’ sake”

Epistle #5 is titled “to his parents”.
Here is the Wikipedia entry for George Fox, (1624-1691):
There appear to be about 134 epistles available online in various forms.
For example, as webpages:
Or download a PDF:

Suggested by Sue Cariss

01.05.2021 59. Matthew 5:2-12

“Then he began his teaching by saying to them, ‘How happy are the humble-minded, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs! How happy are those who know what sorrow means for they will be given courage and comfort! Happy are those who claim nothing, for the whole earth will belong to them! Happy are those who are hungry and thirsty for goodness, for they will be fully satisfied! Happy are the merciful, for they will have mercy shown to them! Happy are the utterly sincere, for they will see God! Happy are those who make peace, for they will be sons of God! Happy are those who have suffered persecution for the cause of goodness, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs! And what happiness will be yours when people blame you and ill-treat you and say all kinds of slanderous things against you for my sake! Be glad then, yes, be tremendously glad – for your reward in Heaven is magnificent. They persecuted the prophets before your time in exactly the same way.’”

Peter Toms recommends this warm translation, which is by JB Phillips.
Read about JB Phillips here:
His whole translation of the New testament can be found here:

24.04.2021 58. Silence and action

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless.
Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

This is often attributed to Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), who was a German Lutheran pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident, and key founding member of the Confessing Church. You can read about him here: 
The actual source of the quotation does not seem to be known:

Suggested by Peter Toms

17.04.2021 57. Quote of the day, from the i newspaper, 10.4.2021.

“Hate no one; hate their vices, not themselves.”

John G C Brainard 1796-1828, American lawyer, editor and poet.

Suggested by Jill Sykes

10.04.2021 56. A quote from Dr Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the colour of their skin but the content of their character”

I can’t find the source for this precise quote, but it appears to be a paraphrasing from his famous “I have a dream” speech delivered on Aug. 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, as part of the March on Washington. You can read, and listen to, the entire speech here:

Suggested by Sue Cariss and Julia Hargreaves.

03.04.2021 55. About time… Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

“ For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”

Suggested by Julia Hargreaves.
This has come to my mind from time to time over the last year, as I thought about how we have been forced to spend our time in ways other than planned. I held back from posting it here, as it is so over-used, but, maybe, now we are a year into the pandemic, it is time… 

27.03.2021 54. Silence?

“Silence is an acoustic condition; stillness is about our state of being”.

David L Saunders, The Friend, 11 March 2021.

Suggested by John Asher

20.03.2021 53. Quaker Faith and Practice 2.26

“Prayer, we learn gradually, has far more to do with listening than with talking. In emotional stress the thoughts are so obsessive that they leave one no opportunity to listen. So, when we know someone is in trouble, we can and must listen (pray) for them. A Friend who had missed meeting for several weeks told us that she knew we had been praying for her before we said so; she had felt it and been sustained by it. She had thought there was no point in prayer or belief in God, but she had been helped by the knowledge that we still prayed and believed. It seems that one can do no less than this. We are seldom given guarantees that it is effective, just hints along the way; but they are hints we cannot ignore. We cannot prove the effectiveness of prayer, but nor can we cast scorn on examples of the kind I have given.

A friend tells me that when she prays for someone she does not so much pray to God for them as for God for them. This seems to me a vital clue about prayer. It is God that the troubled person needs, not our advice and instructions. As we learn more about worship we learn to listen more deeply so that we can be channels through which God’s love reaches the other person. It is God at work, not we ourselves; we are simply used.”

Diana Lampen, 1979

Suggested by Julia Hargreaves and Sue Cariss 

1.03.2020 52. A poem

“What did He know? What did She know? Or it?
Or they? You create a universe but you
Leave its maintenance to others. And so
I’ll ask, ‘What do I know? and ask, What did
anybody know? The women died in abject
misery in a house in a street in a city;
with lodgers and neighbours. How easily
a holocaust can happen; Jews are attacked
on Kristallnacht; while ordinary people
stand and watch; girls are prostituted while neighbours
cluck and gossip; racialist spite is disguised
in the fixed grinning iron mask of humour.
The lust for more of what we want (Now!) rises
like a virulent sickness. and resistance is feeble “.

Gerard Benson

I found several websites about Gerard Benson and they were so different that I thought they were probably about different people. But then I found his obituaries in the Guardian in 2014, which tie the stories into the same man. A varied life!

Suggested by Sue Cariss and Julia Hargreaves

6.03.2021 51. Quaker Faith and Practice 19.32 (the last bit)

“Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come, that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one.”

George Fox 1656.

You can read the whole of QF&P 19.32 here.

Suggested by Sue Cariss and Julia Hargreaves

27.02.2021 50. A quote from Adam Curle

“The fate of the world doesn’t depend on you. It would be wrong and arrogant to think that it did, and to do so might make you ill: I know this from my own experience. On the other hand it would be equally wrong to think that you can contribute nothing to peace and happiness in the world. The great relationships – between nations, communities, cultures and religions-are built on a foundation of millions of small relations between people, between you and me, for example.
Anything we can do to bring harmony, to comfort, to give hope, to encourage another person contributes to the world’s reservoir of love. But one day you may see, and then take the opportunity to do something more. But whatever you do, nothing could be better than to be, to nourish your good heart and open it to others “

Adam Curle (1916-2006) was a British academic and Quaker, known for his work in social psychology, pedagogy, development studies and peace studies. The inaugural Adam Curle Peace Lecture took place at University of Bradford this week. 

Suggested by Sue Cariss and Julia Hargreaves

20.02.2021 49. Paradoxical poem

“People are often unreasonable and self-centred.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are honest people may cheat you.
Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness people may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today maybe forgotten tomorrow.
Do good.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
For you see in the end it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway “

Often attributed to Mother Teresa (more on the background and other versions here).  

Suggested by Sue Cariss and Julia Hargreaves

13.02.2021 48. From Leonard Cohen (1934-2016)

” … This situation does not admit of solution of perfection. This is not the place where you make things perfect, neither in your marriage, nor in your work, nor anything, nor your love of God, nor your love of family or country. The thing is imperfect.

And worse, there is a crack in everything that you can put together: Physical objects, mental objects, constructions of any kind. But that’s where the light gets in, and that’s where the resurrection is and that’s where the return, that’s where the repentance is. It is with the confrontation, with the brokenness of things.”

A quote reputedly from Leonard Cohen (Sony, 1992) about his song, “Anthem”. Listen to the whole song here on YouTube.

Suggested by Melanie Bayes

06.02.2021 47. Quote from Rumi (1207–1273)

“Raise your words not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers not thunder.”

According to Wikipedia, Rumi (1207–1273), was a poet, Hanafi faqih, Islamic scholar, Maturidi theologian, and Sufi mystic originally from Greater Khorasan in Greater Iran.

suggested by Sue Cariss and Julia Hargreaves

30.01.2021 46. Quote from Robert Barclay (1648-1690)

“For, when I came into the silent assemblies of God’s people, I felt a secret power among them, which touched my heart; and as I gave way unto it I found the evil weakening in me and the good raised up.”

This forms part of QF&P 19.21, which may be found here.

suggested by Sue Cariss and Julia Hargreaves

23.01.2021 45. Peace, love and unity

Part of Margaret Fell’s letter to King Charles II that lifted Quaker Peace testimony beyond a simple refusal to bear arms and made it into a way of life.

“We are a people that follow after those things that make for peace, love and unity. It is our desire that others’ feet may walk in the same and do deny and bear testimony against all strife and wars”. Margaret Fell, 1660.

Chosen to mark the treaty on the ban of nuclear weapons, which came into force on 22nd January 2021, and Holocaust Memorial Day on 27th January 2021.

suggested by Sue Cariss and Julia Hargreaves

16.01.2021 44. Quaker Faith and Practice 10.18

“To make a safe home for small children, to comfort one person in sorrow, to do one’s work as efficiently as possible, to listen with understanding, to be gentle with the old and courteous to the young – these are the humble tasks to which most men and women are called. They build the home or the meeting or the community which is the first step towards the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. The second is to be aware of greater tasks and to be ready to be used in solving them – ready, not worried or anxious or envious, but content to wait, exercising a ministry of prayer to sustain the healers and the reconcilers already at work in their thousands.”

Olive Tyson, 1966

Suggested by Julia Hargreaves and Sue Cariss

09.01.2021 43. Preventing war…

“The only way human beings can win a war is to prevent it.”
George Marshall

Suggested by John Asher. According to Wikipedia, George Marshall was an American soldier and statesman who Winston Churchill lauded as the “organiser of victory” for his leadership of the Allied victory in World War II.

Michael Elstub writes that he finds myself as the Veterans for Peace Chair of Policy Group for 2021 and suggests the following.

VFP UK Statement of Purpose.

We, veterans of the armed forces, having dutifully served our Nation, do hereby affirm our greater responsibility to serve the cause of World Peace.

To this end:
a) We will work towards increasing public awareness of the costs of war.
b) We will work to restrain our Government from intervening, overtly and covertly, in the internal affairs of other Nations.
c) We will work to end the arms race and to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons.

To achieve these goals, members of Veterans for Peace pledge to use non-violent means and to maintain an organisation that is both democratic and open with the understanding that all members are trusted to act in the best interests of the group for the larger purpose of world peace. We urge all veterans who share this vision to join us.

2.1.2021 42. A quotation from Ben Pink Dandelion.

“Our testimonies are not a pre packaged set of values. Our spiritual experience, our openness to being led and to living a guided life leads us to a life we have little choice over. Testimony is the outflowing life we cannot help but lead” Ben PD 2014

suggested by Sue Cariss

In 2014, Ben Pink Dandelion gave the Swarthmore Lecture, which can be found on YouTube (audio only version available on Woodbrooke website). 

26.12.2020 41. Ministry from Jamie Campbell.

“‘The simple generosity of kindness’ – that phrase has come to mind frequently since I heard it. It’s light, gentle and radical. Not ‘doing kindness’ but taking it as a way of meeting life and making difficult things possible.”

19.12.2020 40. From The Friend (~3 Dec 2020).

A quote from John Sheldon writing in his local paper about going to Meeting, “As I wait quietly and let the clamour of my mind fade away, I can become aware of a still, small voice which tells me what love requires of me”.

Suggested by Chris Yates

(Is this the John Sheldon who wrote QF&P21.31, and was also a contributor to a 1981 book called “The Quaker Songbook”?)

12.12.2020 39. From First Day Thoughts by J Greenleaf Whittier, 1852.

“In calm and cool and silence, once again
I find my old accustomed place among
My brethren, where, perchance, no human tongue
Shall utter words…
There, syllabled by silence, let me hear
The still small voice which reached the prophet’s ear…”

suggested by Jackie Pemberton

The full poem can be found here.

5.12.2020 38. From the epistle from Britain Yearly Meeting 2013

“Friends are together on a pilgrimage of hope. We continue to follow our inward teacher, sometimes falteringly, sometimes confidently, but always in the company of those who have travelled this way before us and those who are journeying with us now.”

Suggested by John Asher

The full epistle can be found here:

28.11.2020 37. What is God?

“Marilynne Robinson, the acclaimed American novelist,author of the newly published ‘Jack,’ and for whom science and religion sit side by side, when asked ‘what is her God, is it a rock?’ Answered ‘God has a big reality for me but that is not to say that it has definition, there are things that exceed language, God is one of those things, pre-eminently and utterly’”

Suggested by Anne Ogley.

21.11.2020 36. Quaker Faith and Practice 24.56

In 1920 the Society of Friends had its first World Conference, held in London as soon as possible after the First World War. In 1937, when the world was so plainly drifting toward a second and more terrible conflict, it was decided to hold another conference, this time in the United States. Rufus Jones was asked to preside over the meetings. He accepted, but the Conference loomed before him as an ordeal. He wrote to Violet Holdsworth:

In regard to the World Conference, I sincerely hope for good results, but I have become a good deal disillusioned over ‘big’ conferences and large gatherings. I pin my hopes to quiet processes and small circles, in which vital and transforming events take place. But others see differently, and I respect their judgment.


Suggested by Jean Asher

14.11.2020 35. Advices and Queries 16

“Do you welcome the diversity of culture, language and expressions of faith in our yearly meeting and in the world community of Friends? Seek to increase your understanding and to gain from this rich heritage and wide range of spiritual insights. Uphold your own and other yearly meetings in your prayers.” 

Suggested by Julia Hargreaves

7.11.2020 34. From “Living our beliefs, an explanation of the faith and practices of Quakers.”

“Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t going away.” Elvis Presley (1935–1977)

Suggested by Julia Hargreaves

The entirety of the excellent little book, “Living our beliefs” which was “developed and edited by young Quakers, with Graham Ralph” can be read for free(!) here:

31.10.2020 33. From “Living our beliefs, an explanation of the faith and practices of Quakers.” 

“I have learnt that everyone has an inner light. How you act on it
in everyday life will define how brightly your light will shine.”

Participant, Junior Yearly Meeting 2016

Suggested by Sue Cariss

The entirety of the excellent little book, “Living our beliefs” which was “developed and edited by young Quakers, with Graham Ralph” can be read for free(!) here:

24.10.2020 32. From the Quaker Tapestry Botany Panel

Sarah Martha Baker 1887-1917 was a botanist and Quaker, whose Sunday school students recalled her teaching that “the universe is always singing, while only man is silent; and that man must learn to listen, so that his heart may join the universal chorus”. 

Quaker Tapestry Botany Panel

Suggested by Sue Cariss

17.10.2020 31. A quotation from John Wesley

“Love … continually incites us to do good: as we have time, and opportunity, to do good in every possible kind, and in every possible degree to all men. John Wesley 1799

Suggested by John Asher

10.10.2020 30. From “How to Love”, by Thich Nhat Hanh,

“The first element of true love is loving kindness. The essence of loving kindness is being able to offer happiness. You can be the sunshine for another person. You can’t offer happiness until you have it for yourself. So build a home inside by accepting yourself and learning to love and heal yourself. Learn how to practice mindfulness in such a way that you can create moments of happiness and joy for your own nourishment. Then you have something to offer the other person.”

Suggested by Sita Brand. Sita writes that Sunday 11th of October will be the 94th birthday for Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, who is gravely ill. 

03.10.2020 29. QF&P 26.11

“Whenever we are driven into the depths of our own being, or seek them of our own will, we are faced by a tremendous contrast. On the one side we recognise the pathetic littleness of our ephemeral existence, with no point or meaning in itself. On the other side, in the depth, there is something eternal and infinite in which our existence, and indeed all existence, is grounded. This experience of the depths of existence fills us with a sense both of reverence and of responsibility, which gives even to our finite lives a meaning and a power which they do not possess in themselves. This, I am assured, is our human experience of God.”

John Macmurray, 1967

Suggested by Marian McNichol

 26.09.2020  28. QF&P 18.20

“May the light prevail over the darkness; may those who are here speak for all children of the Light, to the needs of other times as well as to their own”.

Quoted in The Friend this week. Suggested by Sue Cariss

19.09.2020 27. QF&P 21.49

“I am glad I was here. Now I am clear, I am fully clear… All is well; the Seed of God reigns over all and over death itself. And though I am weak in body, yet the power of God is over all, and the Seed reigns over all disorderly spirits.

George Fox, shortly before his death, 1691″

Suggested by Jamie Campbell

12.09.2020 26. Advices and Queries 7

Be aware of the spirit of God at work in the ordinary activities and experience of your daily life. Spiritual learning continues throughout life, and often in unexpected ways. There is inspiration to be found all around us, in the natural world, in the sciences and arts, in our work and friendships, in our sorrows as well as in our joys. Are you open to new light, from whatever source it may come? Do you approach new ideas with discernment?

Suggested by Sue Cariss and Julia Hargreaves

06.09.2020 25. from the booklet, “God is Silence” by Pierre Lacout

‘Words split apart. Silence unites. Words scatter. Silence brings together. Words stir up. Silence brings peace. Words engender denial. Silence invites even the denier to find fresh hope in the confident expectation of a mystery which can be accomplished within’

suggested by Sue Cariss

29.08.2020 24. QF&P 26.18

“It is because the learning process is continued throughout life that Friends are seekers as well as finders – not one or the other, but both. One only has to think of the need for a continual search for fresh language, unsoiled by use, to know that we must, if we care about truth, continue to be seekers. We may have a firm hold on old truth ourselves, but unless we are eager to find new ways of expressing it we may be unable to speak the word of life to others just when they most need it.

Ruth Fawell, 1987

Suggested by Sheila Fox (Ruth did valuable work with the teenage group in Sheila’s Meeting, when she was growing up).

22.08.2020 23. From title panel of the Quaker tapestry

“The Religious Society of Friends might be thought of as a Prism, through which the divine light passes to become visible in a spectrum of many colours, many more in their richness than words can express”

Suggested by Sheila Fox

About the Quaker tapestry –

15.08.2020 22. Quaker Faith and Practice 26.24 (partial)

“In both the scientific and religious searches for truth, the implications of current beliefs are explored to see where they lead. Beliefs are not just safe ledges in an uncertain reality, but rather handholds from which further heights can be reached.

Eleven Quaker scientists, 1989”

Suggested by Julia Hargreaves

08.08.2020 21. Quaker Faith and Practice 22.07

“I came to realise that the best way to deepen my love of God was to use my experience of the love in my everyday life in all its variety, subtlety and uncertainty. Getting on with those I love is often a business demanding patience, discretion, tact and understanding. It gets complicated sometimes. It also gets strained, occasionally to the breaking point. But without expression it is barren. I show my love in the things I do, and I also show it by words of endearment. These things are all part and parcel of one another. This is what worship should be like. This is the idiom in which we should speak to God.

John Punshon, 1987″

Suggested by Julia Hargreaves

01.08.2020 20. A postscript to ‘the brethren of the north’ issued by a meeting of elders at Balby, 1656.

“Dearly beloved Friends, these things we do not lay upon you as a rule or form to walk by, but that all, with the measure of light which is pure and holy, may be guided; and so in the light walking and abiding, these may be fulfilled in the Spirit, not from the letter, for the letter killeth, but the Spirit give the life”.

Suggested by Sue Cariss

25.08.2020 19. The Millennium Resolution

Let there be…
respect for the earth,
peace for its people,
love in our lives,
delight in the good,
forgiveness for past wrongs,
and from now on a new start.

Suggested by Marian McNichol

18.07.2020 18. From The Long Road to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Suggested by Sue Cariss

12.07.2020 17. From Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann, 1927

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Suggested by Sue Cariss

05.07.2020 16. Advices and Queries 8 and 3:

“Worship is our response to an awareness of God. We can worship alone, but when we join with others in expectant waiting we may discover a deeper sense of God’s presence. We seek a gathered stillness in our meetings for worship so that all may feel the power of God’s love drawing us together and leading us.”

“Do you try to set aside times of quiet for openness to the Holy Spirit? All of us need to find a way into silence which allows us to deepen our awareness of the divine and to find the inward source of our strength. Seek to know an inward stillness, even amid the activities of daily life. Do you encourage in yourself and in others a habit of dependence on God’s guidance for each day? Hold yourself and others in the Light, knowing that all are cherished by God.”

28.06.2020 15. A poem, “Shorthand” from Rosemary Wells book reviewed by Michael Wright in this week’s Friend.

“God” is a kind of shorthand
for an inner reality of love
to which we all belong
by virtue of our humanity…
worship is the acknowledgement of this love –
particular and universal service is our response.

Suggested by Chris Yates

21.06.2020 14. A Quotation

“Right is right even if everyone is against it and wrong is wrong even if everyone is for it”

Attributed to William Penn and St Augustine, among others. There are many variations on the theme  –

14.06.2020 13. Advices and Queries 35

“Respect the laws of the state but let your first loyalty be to God’s purposes. If you feel impelled by strong conviction to break the law, search your conscience deeply. Ask your meeting for the prayerful support which will give you strength as a right way becomes clear.”

07.06.2020  12. Mother Julian of Norwich, about 1393

“He did not say, ‘You shall not be tempest-tossed, you shall not be work weary, you shall not be discomforted’; but he said, ‘You shall not be overcome’.”

Chris Yates recalls Enid White quoting the above in MfW many years ago and feels it is appropriate for these times.

31.05.2020  11. The Friends’ Journal May, 1967

“My own experience has led me to believe that faith grows – sometimes as naturally as a seed growing in the garden, sometimes as a result of much diligent study … Faith may be nurtured by fellowship with others who believe or are seeking to believe, and by prayer, however faltering. That is why I treasure so much my membership in the Society of Friends and the wonder of the Meeting for Worship.”

Barbara Bowman closed her article on Faith and Belief in vol 12, no. 4  of The Friends’ Journal May, 1967 with these words.

24.05.2020  10. Quaker Faith and Practice 10.02

“We know the power of God’s Spirit at work in the lives of people within the community of our meetings. These people may have been drawn into the community by a sudden convincement, a long period of seeking, or have grown up within it from childhood. We also know that we are engaged in a life-long growth into faith, and experience a continuing irruption of grace into our lives which demands and sustains a commitment to a life of discipleship. We recognise this power at work in people of all ages, races and creeds: a transforming power which can issue in lives of joy, humility and service.”

London Yearly Meeting, 1986

Suggested by Marian McNichol

17.05.2020 9. Advices and Queries 27

“Live adventurously. When choices arise, do you take the way that offers the fullest opportunity for the use of your gifts in the service of God and the community? Let your life speak. When decisions have to be made, are you ready to join with others in seeking clearness, asking for God’s guidance and offering counsel to one another?”

Suggested by Julia Hargreaves

10.05.2020 8. Imagine.

“Imagine all the people living life in peace,
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
An the world will be as one”.

John Lennon 1971

03.05.2020  7. Two related thoughts:

“We rise by lifting others”

“Do you respect that of God in everyone though it may be expressed in unfamiliar ways or be difficult to discern? Each of us has a particular experience of God and each must find the way to be true to it. When words are strange or disturbing to you, try to sense where they come from and what has nourished the lives of others. Listen patiently and seek the truth which other people’s opinions may contain for you. Avoid hurtful criticism and provocative language. Do not allow the strength of your convictions to betray you into making statements or allegations that are unfair or untrue. Think it possible that you may be mistaken.”

The short quote was spotted by Michael Yates on one of the decorated stones which have been appearing all over Settle and Giggleswick. The  longer quote is Advices and Queries 17.

26.04.2020 6. QUAKER FAITH & PRACTICE 2.48

Heed not distressing thoughts when they rise ever so strongly in thee; fear them not, but be still awhile, not believing in the power which thou feelest they have over thee, and it will fall of a sudden. It is good for thy spirit and greatly to thy advantage to be much and variously exercised by the Lord. Thou dost not know what the Lord hath already done and what he is yet doing for thee therein.
Isaac Penington
Suggested by Jamie Campbell

19.04.2020 5.Philippians 4:8

“Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence , if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things… and the God of peace will be with you.”

Suggested by Chris Yates

12.04.2020  4.  Singing the African Sanctus in Yorkshire

by Jean Harrison 

A gentle lift of the conductor’s hands
brings us to our feet – no longer strangers
who flocked in from all over,
climbed to this high room, milled round,
flapped off raincoats, settled down –
but, suddenly, a choir.
Eight spaced drumbeats – then
he releases us to ride our breath
up and down the wide sky of three octaves.
Plainsong explodes, ‘Sanctus, sanctus.’
everything’s holy: Egyptian wedding flutes,
Acholi cows, a milking song,
Sufis chanting in the Massa mountains,
the long, undulating flight of the call to prayer.
Hosannas thunder –
the basses off on their own –
while the rest of us just about hold on
among rattles, drums, ululating voices
and everything rises into the rafters
like rooks circling at dusk, layers of birds
folding and unfolding over trees and fields,
the council houses, the Creamery,
while a few break from the mass,
wheel off towards the hills,
are gathered back.

[ Jean Harrison was a colleague, friend and latterly companion to Barbara Bowman, and for many years was associated with our Meeting. Jean  died peacefully at home on Sunday evening 5 April following a long illness.]

05.04.2020 3. Quaker Faith and Practice 24.60 (partial)

“What matters is living our lives in the power of love and not worrying too much about the results. In doing this the means become part of the end. Hence we lose the sense of helplessness and futility in the face of the world’s crushing problems. We also lose the cravings for success focussing on the goal to the exclusion of the way of getting there”

Wolf Mendel 1974

29.03.2020 2. Quaker F&P 26.39

“True faith is not assurance, but a readiness to go forward experimentally, without assurance. It is a sensitivity to things not yet known. Quakerism should not claim to be a religion of certainty but a religion of uncertainty; it is this which gives us our affinity to the world of science. For what we apprehend of the truth is limited and partial and experience may set it all in a new light: if we have found certainty, we shall no longer be sensitive to new experiences of truth. For who seeks that which he believes he has found? Who explores a territory which he claims already to know?” Charles F Carter 1971.

22.03.2020 1. Quaker Faith and Practice 29.03

“We seem to be at a turning point in human history. We can choose life or watch the planet become uninhabitable for our species. Somehow, I believe that we will pass through this dark night of our planetary soul to a new period of harmony with the God that is to be found within each of us, and that S\he will inspire renewed confidence in people everywhere, empowering us all to co-operate to use our skills, our wisdom, our creativity, our love, our faith – even our doubts and fears – to make peace with the planet. Strengthened by this fragile faith, empowered by the Spirit within, I dare to hope.” Pat Saunders 1987.