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The Courage to See

Cut Blindfold

By Jan Wood

I HAVE HAD GOD OPEN MY EYES to new awareness that led to change many times. In fact, I count on that grace in my life! Perhaps the most iconic opening came years ago…

My sense of myself at that time was that I was a generous, happy, nice person. I considered myself kind and compassionate. I was hurt and dismissive of any feedback that might challenge those notions. But one day God’s Spirit started moving in my mind and heart. While I went about the normal activities of my day, there was a profound inward experience unfolding. I was shown all the ways that my words, phrases, and jokes reflected a deep space of envy and bitterness inside of me. I could hear the phrases that popped out of my mouth without my hearing or examining them. This dredging up of thoughts, words and actions that I had been blind to continued throughout the day. I was horrified! How could I be that kind of person? It was around 4 o’clock in the afternoon when I finally blurted out in anguish to God, “Oh God, I don’t want to be this way!” And to my surprise that inward voice of God answered in such a gentle and kindly tone. “I know, Jan. That is why we are talking about it.” I melted into the kindness of God’s gentle forgiveness and healing. That kindness moved me from seeing and feeling guilty to authentic and joyful change in my being and in my relationships with others. Continue reading

Empty Nest

Empty Nest

By Julie Peyton

IT IS STILL THERE IN THE RECTANGULAR PLANTER on my 9th-floor balcony, the now-empty nest that today has no mother bird flitting about chittering at my presence, no babies trustingly opening those impossibly wide beaks at the approach of my camera. For about three weeks I had allowed myself one daily visit, just a few seconds to see what had changed, how many eggs or baby birds or fledglings were present, and to get a photograph. Now I can stand next to it as long as I want, marveling at the craftsbirdship of bits of twig woven into a near-perfect half sphere. I should probably remove the nest and put the planter back into service for vegetables or berries.

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“The Same Spirit”— Bridging Theological Divides

Ben and Chris

Ben Zellmer and Christine Hall

By Christine Hall

RECENT TRAVELS BROUGHT ME FACE TO FACE with people who think and talk about God very differently than me or my little Quaker meeting on Whidbey Island, in Washington State. There were different expressions, songs, and theological emphases, yet I experienced the same Spirit flowing. The Holy One was weaving Goodness in Wisconsin for my nephew’s confirmation in the Lutheran Church.

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Surprised by Happiness

Johan and Judy Maurer

Johan and Judy Maurer

By Johan Maurer

I LOVED THE ADVERTISED THEME of the April 2019 edition of the Pacific Northwest Quaker Men’s Conference — “Identifying, Sharing and Living into Spiritual Gifts.” I was especially looking forward to hearing Friends historian Ralph Beebe’s story of learning and living into his gifts. You can imagine my feelings when I heard, as the conference was approaching, that his health wouldn’t permit him to appear as planned.

My feelings were even more complicated when the conference planners unexpectedly asked me to speak at the conference in Ralph’s place. In comparison to his lifetime of teaching, research, and leadership, what did I have to offer?

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Chesed by Pizza

Chesed by Pizza

By Emily Provance

“The obligations of normal human kindness — chesed, as the Hebrew has it — that, we all owe.”
Madeleine L’Engle, A Ring of Endless Light

EACH MODE OF TRAVEL — bus, train, plane, automobile — has its own character. I find buses to be the most strange. They’re always cold, except when they’re hot. Transfers come disproportionately in the middle of the night. And even if you’re promised wifi and electricity, your chances are fifty-fifty of receiving either. Something about the combination of continual jostling, sleep deprivation, and the inability to fidget in your seat evokes a sort of twilight state that I don’t entirely dislike. The rules of the world change. You slip into magical realism.

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Signs and Wonders

Miracles Ahead

By Jonathan Vogel-Borne

So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. —John 4:46–50

WHEN DESCRIBING HIS SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE, one of my early mentors exclaimed, in his endearing rhetorical style, “How much evidence do you need?” In my late teenage years, my first experiences of the divine were filled with signs and wonders, incredible power, amazing visions, and deep joy. I was convinced that my turning was part of a much bigger turning in the world. At any minute I would see Jesus’ coming in clouds of glory. I was on fire for God!

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Grateful

By Lorraine Watson

Painted Rocks by Christine Hall

Rocks painted by Christine Hall, Director of Way of the Spirit

ILOVE THAT THANKSGIVING FLOWS INTO CHRISTMAS, setting the tone for the Christmas season with gratefulness. In thinking about gratitude and gratefulness, there is often a significant link to generosity. Gratitude begets generosity as feeling grateful naturally spills over into generous actions. Cicero said that gratitude is the parent of all other virtues.

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A Good Question for “God-Language”

By Christine Hall

A FRIEND BICYCLED 2,700 MILES THIS SUMMER along the Continental Divide. In a newspaper feature piece, she described a key question that carried her through the challenges:

“When doing endurance races, I have a question I ask myself when I want to quit: Am I in danger or just uncomfortable? If I’m just uncomfortable, I tell myself to keep going. Things will get better. And they usually do.” 1

“Am I in danger, or just uncomfortable?” is a really useful question for anyone committed to a long-term effort to stretch physically. The beauty of the question is that it applies spiritually too, because growth in a God-centered life asks us to build faithful, trusting soul-muscle strength for the long haul. Continue reading

Deeply Satisfying Lifelong Belonging

By Becky Wood

Madonna

HOW DID I ARRIVE AT THIS SET OF WORDS? I was pondering the idea of the “all sufficient” nature of God. I was searching for examples of visual images of what “all sufficient” might look like. I landed on a magazine picture showing a smiling mom breastfeeding her fuzzy-headed baby. There was no sense of rush. They had eye contact. It’s an intimate act that spans the globe. I appreciated the giving and receiving that was happening in that practical moment. Both people’s needs were being met. It was a place of trust that builds into the future. In that moment, there is no question about who, or where, one belongs. That’s where the attributes of “all sufficient” blended into a new meaning. The relationship that is “all sufficient” is also deeply satisfying and has the sturdiness of lifelong belonging.

I have been privileged to see people’s ah-ha moments when they felt their sense of an all-sufficient belonging with God. Continue reading