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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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?Read More
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.Read More
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!Read More
By Vince Schueler
WHEN I WAS ASKED TO WRITE A PIECE on the beginnings of the Northwest Quaker Men’s Gathering, it quickly evolved into an appreciation for the gentle and powerful work of Good News Associates in nurturing spiritual leadings.Read More
By Lorraine Watson
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.Read More
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.Read More
By Becky Wood
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.Read More
By Lon Fendal
IT WAS ONE OF THOSE “by the way” expressions. It was only a few days before a group of college students would be departing for a ministry and learning trip to Kenya. The orientation and training meetings had covered the basics of preparing for the time in a culture much different from our own. The “by the way” preceded the student’s comment to me that he was well along toward completing a 40-day fast but had decided that he should probably end the fast before our departure. I thanked him for telling me about this and assured him he was making the right decision. Truthfully, I had no idea what a major period of fasting would do to a person’s body, especially while adjust to the many differences between life in Africa and the U.S. This experience had a reasonably happy outcome, if you don’t count that the student and I almost missed our outbound flight while his body staged a major revolt for his over-indulgence at an all-you-can-eat restaurant in Nairobi.
Eden Grace, Emily Provance, Dorcas Otieno Nick, and John Grace Losike (left to right). Friends United Meeting delegates to the World Council of Churches' 2018 Conference on World Mission, Arusha, Tanzania.
IT IS A JOY TO ANNOUNCE that Emily Provance has joined Good News Associates! As one of the Associates, she joins a team of collaborative ministry entrepreneurs. Each of us is following our call and leadings that have taken us out of institutional and financial security. Together we are a container for ministry support, necessary resources and creative synergy.
Emily joins us as a well-known Friend from 15th Street Meeting in New York City. She has many gifts and interests, but they coalesce around her passion to create the conditions among Friends that makes it possible for Quakers to be a to be a joyful and empowered people who are faithfully ministering to the world.
Here is one glimpse into the texture of her call. . . .
While it is not our usual SEEDS practice to reprint speeches or articles, we in the Good News Associates community have been in deep pain as we have watched many in the evangelical branch of our Christian family move away from the teachings and heart of Jesus. In a recent gathering at Wheaton College, Dr. Mark Labberton, President of Fuller Seminary, delivered a powerful speech that is both thoughtful and encouraging for both those who would consider themselves Evangelical—and those who do not. It seems useful to share it with our SEEDS family.
This speech was given by Fuller Seminary President Dr. Mark Labberton at a private meeting of evangelical leaders held at Wheaton College in Chicago, Illinois, on April 16, 2018. The following has been edited from his notes for clarity and to give context to excerpts that have been disseminated elsewhere.
What draws us together here—and in hope—is the gospel of Jesus Christ. God’s great love and mercy poured out for the sake of the world is deeper, wider, stronger, and wiser than any possible threat or danger, competition or distraction. Our common confession that “Jesus is Lord” names the central testimony of our faith, even as it also names that to which no one and nothing else compares: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all.Read More
By Julie Peyton
IN THE SPRING OF 1989 I JOINED A TEAM to run the Hood-to-Coast Relay Race. I was looking for some inspiration and motivation to get into shape and maybe lose some weight. Running wasn’t fun, I was always among the slowest of the slow in school, but it was aerobic and “good for you.”Read More
By Margaret Fraser
On the left are the Columbus Foundation's replicas of Niña and Pinta. Center right, in front of the artist, is the top of the tent where volunteers welcomed visitors to the ships. On the far right is the tent that was provided for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians to educate visitors about the impact of Columbus's voyages on the indigenous people.
You never know when you are going to be called to take a stand. Well, of course, if you have a longstanding concern, you can be pretty sure that sooner or later you are going to have to stand up and speak up. But in this case, I didn't see it coming. I didn't even know how strongly I felt about the issue until it arrived - not exactly on my doorstep, but in a marina just a few blocks from my house.Read More
By Lon Fendall
About ten years ago I completed a book about the spiritual and political values of the public official on whose staff I had served for a number of years, Senator Mark Hatfield. The title of the book is, Stand Alone or Come Home. That unusual title came from the stern advice the Senator had received from his father when their family lived in Dallas, Oregon. The context of this advice was a discussion the two of them had when Hatfield was young and his father realized that some of his friends might try to get him to participate in inappropriate "fun" when they were bored. This probably referred to such things as throwing rocks at the windows of abandoned buildings. Just because it sounded cool. With the sternness of a railroad blacksmith, which was his father's career, the elder Hatfield made it clear to his son that he only had two appropriate choices when his friends were urging him to take part in something that was clearly wrong and inappropriate: stand alone against what they were setting about to do in the hope that they wouldn't go ahead, and if that failed to turn them away from their plans, he was to walk away and come home.Read More
By Jonathan Vogel-Borne
How many times have we heard someone say, "I'm spiritual, but not religious"? I have often wondered what that means? Is it just more evidence of American society's drift towards secularism? Or, is it an indicator of a common spiritual condition? Is there a ministry opportunity here?
This past November I attended the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) International Gathering in Kathmandu, Nepal. AVP was founded in 1975 by Quakers and inmates in Greenhaven prison, New York. The Quakers were attenders at Greenhaven's prison-based Quaker meeting for worship. Looking for ways to mitigate the daily violence among the prison population, the inmates asked the Quakers to help them develop a training program to address conflict situations without resort to violence.Read More
By Jan Wood
I love the depictions of the nativity scene throughout the centuries. I can sit with a painting and be drawn into the emotions of that first revelation that God was doing something special. I feel my body bending near and am aware that the posture of Christmas is to be on bended knee.
We Americans have cultivated and admire the postures of standing tall and erect, of striding through life humbled by nothing, stiff-necked and proud. Our broken human nature always tempts us to think we are our own god. That we are the masters of our fate. That we can be anything we want if we try hard enough. Americans have cultivated the myth of being #1 like a religious conviction. We can do no wrong. We have nothing to learn from other nations or peoples. What we do and think is automatically right and the best. We have honed our narcissistic arrogance like a finely tuned instrument. We bow to no one. We even expect God to bless our greatness.Read More
By Christine Hall, Director of Way of the Spirit
Spiritual retreats are powerful opportunities to cultivate our best intentions for a life of faith, and help to grow the kind of courage needed to act as led by the Spirit.
Strengthen our best intentions
Retreats are all about intention—where you are aiming, or your sense of purpose. To be clear, intentions are not the same as New Years resolutions. Most of those well-meant goals fade after six weeks or so of challenges and weakening willpower. Intentions do something different inside us. They orient us through trial and error, both success and failure. They help convert an inner sense of Divine guidance into determined action.