Archive for July, 2006

Being prepared

July 31, 2006

I’ve just had been visited by two Friends as a part of applying for membership. It was a lovely experience, and I learned a lot about what Quakers mean to me, what brought me back, and what’s keeping me here.

Up until this afternoon I didn’t really feel prepared for the visit. Partly this was because although I’d intended to do lots of reading to prepare, events of the last two weeks didn’t leave any time for this. Talking to Leith this afternoon though, made me realise that I had been preparing. Not by reading about Quakerism, but by helping others prepare for Yearly Meeting, by supporting and being supported by other Young Friends, by running a session for JYFs, by taking the kids to Meeting. Quakers have become so much a part of my life that I didn’t have any time to read about being a Quaker!

And I guess that, for me, is why I feel ready to take membership.

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Ice Shadows

July 23, 2006

During the first week of the school holidays we stayed in Dunedin with my sister. The nights were below zero outside, it routinely gets to minus 7 or 8 degrees there during the winter.

I had to wait till midday to go for a run each day, as the footpaths were covered in frosty ice. Even at midday where the shadows there was ice. The silouttes of cars, letter boxes, walls and bushes were perfectly formed in white frost on the pavement.

Sometimes when I was running I could avoid these icy patches. But in other places I couldn’t. I had to run through the shadows, and risk slipping on the ice.
It seems to me that there are there are places and times in our lives like this. Sometimes we can bring things into the light to heal them. And sometimes we have to walk in the shadows. But by walking through these cold shadows of ice we leave footprints for others to follow, and they are easier for us to cross the next time.

I want to live in a world where…

July 6, 2006

Thomas’ question about our vision for 2050 has got me thinking further than just the environmental/sustainability frame he posed it in.

In 2050 I will be 78. I fully intend to be alive, healthy and active.

I want to live in a world where going to war to solve our differences is considered as pointless and barbaric as making human sacrifices to the sun god to try to influence the weather.

I want to live in a world where using crippling debt to keep third world nations politically compliant to the whims of first world powers is seen as as unjust as indentured servitude and human slavery.

I want to live in a world where exploiting the earth’s resources unsustainably for reasons of commercial gain is perceived as foolish and shortsighted as introducing stoats to New Zealand to control rabbits.

I want to live in a world where deciding whether to consider the rights of indigenous peoples, homosexuals, disabled people, or any other minority group is as academic a question as whether to give women the vote.

I want to live in a world like this, and I intend to do what I can to help create it.

Branches

July 5, 2006

So, I’ve been told that lots of my ministry uses trees as a metaphor. I’ll post on why one day soon. For now, here’s another one.

Last weekend we met another branch of the family. My great grandfather’s first marriage had broken up, so after he remarried he had another son, who until now we had never met.

Myself, my sister, father and mother in law had lunch with Brian, his wife, daughter and grandson. From the minute we met them there was an instant connection. We talked non stop with each other for about four hours. It was fascinating to explore the similarities in our values and personality traits.

One of the reasons we connected so quickly was, I think because we have a lot in common. Brian just laughed and agreed wholeheartedly for example when I said that our family only has two speeds, fast and off.

The other reason we connected is perhaps because we intended to look for that which we had in common, that which we shared. We could have focused on that which was different, or on why the family had branched all those years ago, but we didn’t.

Given that 99.9% of human DNA is identical, given that we are all people, with hopes and desires, fear and failings, do we not all have lots in common? And if we looked for this when we met new people (or spent time with people we already knew), wouldn’t our chances of connecting be greater? Perhaps this is something like walking cheerfully over the earth looking for that of god in every person.

Even if it isn’t, this notion of expectant, faithful intention seems important. Seek and you shall find I guess. If we expect and intend to find something in common, we will.