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The First Day

Emily Provance

By Emily Provance

I THINK OF WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11, as the beginning. For me, two things happened that day.

First, I received a barrage of communications: emails, phone calls, text messages, social media contacts. “Who has a plan? What’s the Center for Disease Control (CDC) saying? Are other Friends cancelling worship? Are other Friends staying home?”

And second, I had to figure something out: where was I, as a traveling minister, going to go?

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A Sturdy Faith

Together We CreateBy Jan Wood

THERE IS A REFRAIN FROM AN OLD HYMN, “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” that rings in my ears these days:

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is shifting sand.
All other ground is shifting sand.

We are in the midst of a massive national — and global — shock. A few weeks ago our worlds had the contours of normalcy. It felt like our lives have been turned upside down overnight. Our normal expectations that we live our lives by have been swept away in a tidal wave of change. Life and death are suddenly front and center of our consciousness. Our carefully balanced finances have been thrown into disarray. The ability to gather with folks you love in times of trouble has been erased. Uncertainty is the only certainty about the future. Continue reading

Dolls of hope, dolls of peace

By Nancy McCormick

IN 2010, under the leadership of former Curator Ruth Brindle, the Quaker Heritage Center of Wilmington College created an exhibit that celebrated a doll exchange program that occurred in 1927 between Japan and America to help build relationships between our two cultures.

I was fascinated with the idea of building bridges with a culture before Pearl Harbor, Nagasaki and Hiroshima; another reminder that each generation needs to be building peace, one day at a time, passing that torch to the next generation.

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Listening in Tongues

Listening Ear

By Christine Hall

IF WE CARE ABOUT vibrant, transformative faith communities, how do we help it happen? That’s the ideal we foster in Way of the Spirit—an 18 month program for learning and spiritual growth from Quaker spirituality. Over the years, we’ve taken up the phrase, “listening in tongues” to remind us of both practical behaviors and an inner orientation to each other across our range of experiences and vocabularies about the Holy, God, or the Spirit.

I wonder how your faith community practices “listening in tongues.”

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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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