What I Did Post Operatively

So in the end, I had surgery on my shoulder, full rotator cuff repair, bits of bone and tendon removed and ground and tacked. I would very sincerely not recommend this surgery to anyone. Not that anything went wrong: quite to the contrary, the orthopod was excellent and I am healing well and beyond expectation. Gone is that nasty crepitus, the bone grinding on bone I had when I lifted my arm, and my range of motion is nearly normal. For this I am profoundly grateful. But the surgery itself is truly wretched. I was thinking, of course, I would be up and about in one or two weeks; the reality is I spent the first three weeks sucking back Percocets and watching CSI reruns and EWTN (don't ask) on the satellite receiver my father kindly brought me. (Narcotics make you do strange things. At least I didn't fall asleep during meeting, though it was a close run thing a couple of times.)

Lest it be understood I have spent the entire past two months necking with Morpheus and watching police procedurals and The Best of Mother Angelica Live! , I actually did some writing (though not enough), read a great deal, did work on various Friendly projects --- enough, I think to keep from going completely buggy. But as a sabbatical from work, it has a lot to be desired.

Some things I learned:

1. Patience, patience, patience. Healing doesn't happen overnight. Applies spiritually too. A glib analogy, maybe. But having the surgery really puts it to the point. When I wrote my membership letter to my meeting I wrote about the transformative experience of convincement, something I knew in my heart better than I could express in words. I think now in part what I meant was coming to terms with brokeness in spirit. For all the gifts I experienced as a Catholic, the brokeness I felt never healed. And I guess we are all broken in some way. The healing comes in realizing that in the deep centre, where the Light speaks and comforts us, the brokeness doesn't matter, that God has uses for the broken bits; it is not a realization that comes at once, but gradually, as if the Light is seeking us like we might gain the trust of a child, carefully. We might bolt at any second! But God is persistant. . . and patient. I wonder if we need to be patient too, in receiving the Light. God can't heal us unless we trust, and if we have been wounded, trust doesn't come easily. But with patience, it will.

2. Two new queries , gleaned from an essay by Douglas Steere :

"Was thee faithful?" and "Did thee yield?" are not archaic echoes of personal queries Friends used to ask themselves centuries ago in the first flush of their discovery. More than one member has hurried off to do something on which the divine accent has settled in the meeting. Concerns for certain social situations have sprung out of the meeting. Few leave without some refreshment, some sensitizing, and without at least a tiny nosegay of those mountain flowers that Francis de Sales declared to be there on the heights waiting to be plucked by every true worshipper.

The neat practicality and elegance of these queries are admirable. Each contains a universe of meaning and thought and Friends practice. This is what I mean: near to where I live are the Petroglyphs, a truly amazing series of rock carvings held sacred by the First Nations. Each petroglyph (as I crudely understand it) represents not a particular element in a sacred story but meaning, belief, history, symbolism that can be only intrepreted in relation to other glyphs: together they provide a narrative and a way to the Divine. At their laconic best, queries ought to do the same, in words. I can calculate the meaning of "Was thee faithful?" almost to the nth degree and the same with "Did thee yield?": each contains entities, strong echoes and voices of Quaker history and faith, belief and practice. Contemplated together: a narration of faith, words which can challenge us to live our faithfully and let us celebrate the depth and richness of our faith at the same time.


Confessions of a Bad Blogger

So I am a very bad blogger: I haven't posted since --- ack --- July. Part of it is the ruined shoulder. It seems I passed the summer either in pain (and I mean a lot of pain), or at physio, or at work. And tempus fugit. And there is the general busyness of summer on the farm: there is always something to do, or fix, or (in the last resort) weeds to pull. Probably also there is the sort of vague discouragement that you're writing in an echo chamber: no one else is interested in your various brilliant insights. Oh well. Writing, at the heart of it, is an exercise in egotism, a notion that your thoughts are so vital, incisive and witty they deserve to be broadcast and repeated everywhere. You might as well have a sandwich board and a bell: Listen to me. . .it's important!


Well the news is thus: my shoulder will finally be subject to the surgeon's blade (or scope, since it's arthroscopy) next month where various odd bits of joint and tendon and bone will be scraped and patched together. The good news is that I will recover normal usage. The bad news (or other good news, depending how you look at it) is that I will be off work for two months, maybe three, while the repaired joint heals. Lots of time for reflection, of a Friendly sort. I am not sure how I will handle the enforced demobility. I have some plans: do some writing, read a lot. . . a sort of involuntary sabbatical. But when I was immobilized with the ankle in June, I was nearly pulling out my hair in frustration after the first week.

What else? I was given a set of keys to the meetinghouse. I think this means I am truly a Quaker, even more so than the Minute concerning my membership which now adorns the meeting's books. It also frightens me deeply. Canadian Friends are so thin on the ground and our heritage so unique and fragile that having even this small responsibility to one of the last historic meetinghouses in use is worrisome. I don't mind opening the meetinghouse for worship of a Sunday; it's being the person last to leave that scares me.


The Rich Life

I'm not a bad blog writer, just a clumsy one. Which is to explain my long absence from this place. I had expected not to be writing much here, in the first place, being spring and all: May and June are busy months for any serious gardener, and I had several hundred plants raised carefully from seed, to go into the ground.

At the same time, I went to the doctor, who of course advised me to get more exercise, maybe play organized sports. I duly joined my workplace's baseball team. On my first time at bat, the very first time I stepped out on the field, and in fact on my very first swing, I hit a little grounder into left field, started running to first, lost my footing, and fell. Hard. So hard I ruptured the biceps tendon in my right shoulder and quite possibly tore the rotator cuff as well.* The result being I spent weeks in weeks more or less in constant pain, unable to move my arm much above the level of my waist. My range of motion, as they say, was limited.

Lesson #1: Baseball is a dangerous game, after all, and I'm not twenty anymore, either.
Lesson #2: Chronic severe pain does't necessarily enlarge the soul. On the other hand, I have a huge amount of empathy now for those who have to live with it.

About a week later, puttering around in the vegetable garden, planting cauliflower, I stepped into a hole about ten inches wide and perhaps six deep, and rotated my left ankle inwards abruptly, and ruptured the ligaments. At that exact moment, I nearly cried with frustration and annoyance. But being stubborn, I tried to walk it off, until I couldn't walk any longer: when I took my sock and shoe off, I found my ankle had swollen to the size of a Grade #2 grapefruit.

Lesson #3: When you think it can't get worse, believe me, it can.
Lesson #4: Crutch walking in these circumstances becomes nigh well impossible.

Interestingly, about the same time, a bolt of lightning took out the satellite television receiver. God has a sense of humour, after all.

Needless to say, I haven't been in the mood for formal writing: I've been reading a lot, writing in my journal, and thinking. My partner has been appointed Head Gardener (Acting), and has gotten a crash course in basic horticulture (Telling Weeds from Valuable Ornamentals and Advanced Vegetables are some of the subjects he's received instruction). The roses I ordered bareroot last winter bloomed brilliantly.

An older Friend, in the middle of all this, came to the farm for a couple of feedbags of rotted horse manure. I hobbled painfully here and there, pointing out the trees, exotic and common, planted since we came to the farm, the perennial beds, the vegetable garden, the roses, the rhododendrons in their acid bed. A small flock of ducks followed us, hoping, I think for handful of grain; the horses, of course, stood and watched us.

She said to me, "What a rich life you have!"

This caught me short. When I said that suffering doesn't enlarge the soul, I meant it. Everything becomes a matter of you and the pain: we are incredibly self-centred creatures, and pain exposes this deadly flaw nicely. We feel sorry for ourselves, and neglect to realize that pain and suffering defines the larger portion of humanity. We despair. We forget the small important things, and especially the produce of our labour and love. Maybe it's our response to pain that makes us bigger than we are.

Another lesson: ministry to enlighten the soul comes at any time. My good Friend certainly gave me some, short and sweet, a rebuke and a way forward at the same time. Answering to that of God in everyone, I think, includes listening carefully for such messages. I'm grateful for having heard it.

*An MRI booked in August will confirm this.


Humbled by Chickens; Some Thoughts on Eary Friends

The garden has been planted, finally, with cool weather vegetables: carrots, peas, lettuce, kale, spinach. I was quite proud of the neat rows, the lack of clods ( a miracle of manure and compost in our heavy clay) and the netting for the peas. The next morning, inevitably, the chickens discovered all that lovely tilth, and decided it was fine for scratching and catching earthworms and tiny bugs; or alternatively, for dust-baths. I've spent the last fews days chasing them off, all the while watching my nice orderly rows disappear under under chicken footprints.

I am certain there is a message in this.

* * * * * * * * * *

Some thoughts on early Friends. There are a few things that stand out. First of all, how profoundly threatening was Quakerism was to the prevailing religious and societal mores of the 17th century England. In this we have to keep in mind that Fox preached in a pre-Enlightenment society, deeply hierachical and religious --- it is hardly possible to overstate this --- fuelled with the fires of Cromwell's Puritan revolution and the reaction after the Restoration: all the elements of liberal democracy as we understand it could hardly be conceived.

Fox and the others preached a radical doctrine: no bowing or scraping, no hat honour, universal peace, equality of women, refusing to swear oaths, plain speech, the Inner Light of continuing revelation: the core of Quaker testimonies. If you believed, as received opinion in the 17th century went, that God had appointed order in society from the King downwards, every person in their place, it was easy to see how subversive Quaker doctrine was: refusing to swear oaths in the royal courts, for example, was open defiance of the King's justice, and by extension, of the King himself; refusing to bare head or use the second person plural before those deemed superior attacked the natural order of the world. If you were a Puritan (or Anglican divine), the concept of the Inner Light smacked of blasphemy, being a wicked violation of the doctrine of sola scriptura on one hand or else received tradition and Act of Parliament in the form of the 39 Articles on the other.

Three things to consider:

1. Early Friends, in general, were not persecuted for holding heterodox beliefs about what we might consider "core" Christian doctrine; as has been tirelessly pointed out, most early Friends had rather conventional beliefs about the doctrine of trinity, vicarious atonement of sin and so on, even if they regarded any theorizing on these topics as being notional. But they were persecuted for directly attacking the basis of the 17th century church and state, and on matters that might be thought of as "peripheral" to core Christian doctrine, an indication, to my mind, of their importance. Even to us.

1. All of the conventions of 17th century religious and political thought --- a hierarchical, stratified society, the radical inequality of human beings, the subordinate place of women, war as a just means of enforcing state policy, slavery, the edifice and ritual of state religion, Puritan radicalism --- were justified by Scripture. Early Friends challenged those assumptions at great cost, ground between the upper and nether stones of Anglicanism and Puritanism, by radically reintrepreting Scripture in unconventional ways, to be consistent with a message of love, or guided by the Inner Light, tossing out bits of Scripture altogether as being inconsistent with their experience of God. Paul's injunction against women preaching went almost immediately, for example.

3. Quakers were not passive in being persecuted, and were willing to use the machinery and language of state to defend their beliefs: Consider trial of William Penn, which established the legal principle of jury nullification. When I read the account of Penn's trial I am often moved. His argument, to be sure was, religiously motivated: the ability to openly preach the message of Fox speaks to a deep understanding of the Inner Light; yet the language he speaks in the Old Bailey is one of law and jurisprudence, not religion: he appeals to the common law and the Great Charter, he demands his rights be respected. He draws a direct line from his religious experience to to the validation of his conscience by political right. It is the explication of the divine Voice in the public sphere.

All of which have little to do with the essentials of Christianity, transcendent. What does the doctrine of the Trinity care for the trifles of the common law? But has it everything to do with the essentials of Quakerism, God immanent or even Christ immanent?


Feeling Antsy; A Thought on the FUM

The frogs were back last night, peeping away after what seems to be an eternity of the most foul April weather in my memory. And during my walk yesterday along the railway I saw one quail (which flew away, and being a poor flier, promptly crashed into a sugar maple, a la Monty Python) ; an osprey lording over the Little Ouse River, looking for little silvery fish; a tom turkey and his harem of 5 hens. So I'm glad, but I have that spring restlessness now:

Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly -- and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.

Not very Quakerish, I guess, but spring does that to you: makes you giddy with delight in the thought of new grass, the smell of mud, the feel of earth in your hands. Spring is doing what Love demands after a winter of contemplation and reflection.

* * * * * * * * * *

I received a note today from an old friend today, one I haven't heard from for years, a Carmelite Tertiary with whom I shared an interest in Teresa de Avila. (A Friend said to me: "Aren't they all interested in Teresa de Avila?") Enclosed with the note was a pack of prayer cards and bits of Catholic inspirational wisdom on 4 x 5 inch pieces of paper, including one with the somewhat dubious remonstration that "Christ didn't come to take away pain and suffering in the world, but to lead us into salvation." My friend doesn't know I've jumped ship, as it were, from Roman Catholicism's luxury liner to a rickety old Quaker sailing craft, with a mutinous crew and a hull evidently leaking.

Honesty demands I reply to her; I started a letter, but it began to sound like a rather self-centred and condescending apologia than anything else, so I threw it away. And who am I to lecture a follower and devotee of Spanish mysticism about silence, the Inner Light and seeking the will of God?

* * * * * * * * * *

I've been writing a little and thinking a lot about the apparently imminent disassociation of the dually affiliated yearly meetings from the Friends United Meeting (including my own, the Canadian Yearly Meeting), a move the seems both inherently stupid --- because we all know that Friends will be left weaker afterwards and that we all need the leavening of our very different gifts --- yet inevitable, as the normative forms of worship and belief between the programmed and liberal unprogrammed branches widens into a chasm.

How curious that the issue of same sex marriage and the role of gay men and women within Friends will be the issue that breaks unity. Of all the theological and doctrinal points separating us, this seems to me be the most trivial: we could begin with some heavy-duty dispute, like the Richmond Declaration, if real meat was wanted. Or the role of continuing revelation. Or being led by the Inner Light without reference for Scripture.

I have been writing a longer post on the whole issue, which I may or may not post --- I might need to tone it down a little. But in the end, I keep coming back to this question (which might well be addressed to Anglicans and United Church members or anyone else): in a hundred years, which side of this debate will be seen as having the prophetic voice?

* * * * * * * * * *

As I finish writing this the sun has actually appeared. O glorious!


Random Notes

Last posted here 8/10/07. And already it's spring, or what's passing for spring in these parts: the weather is either cold and cloudy or cold and sunny or cold and snowing. My tomato seedlings froze in my greenhouse when a power failure cut off the tiny heater which keeps them above freezing. Spring --- real spring --- seems an eon away. On the other hand, the geese are laying eggs in odd corners of the farmyard and the dogs are feasting on them. Kingston, the eldest, can ferret them out like no other dog, and now he sleeps beside me as I write, belly bloated, contentedly farting goose egg farts, which (pardon the pun) are foul beyond belief.

My lack of posting had less to do with lack of time than lack of anything to say. Or rather, I've read what must be the equivilent of a graduate course in Quaker studies over the past winter and I'm still digesting what I've read: as they say, the more I read, the less I know.

* * * * * * * * *

Last night, despite being cold was stunning for stargazing. I'm a bit of an astronomy geek, albeit a fairweather one: I don't like the cold, and my telescope stays firmly parked inside during the winter. Nevertheless, when I walked the dogs last night the sky was gorgeous, and I took a few minutes to look. The constellation Orion, the brightest in the sky, was just setting; it was ornamented on one side by Venus passing just above the Pleiades and other the other by Sirius: altogether a memorable sight.

I reflected that when George Fox was alive cosmology was an entirely different animal: Copernicus and his revolution were scarcely a hundred years past when Fox took up preaching. The universe, according to Copernicus, was heliocentric, limited in size and certainly comprehensible. Imagine the universe as a sphere or even a plane extending to the orbit of Saturn: until the early 19th century, that was all there was. It's easy to imagine God in this small universe being centrally concerned with the fate of humanity, with doctrines, and vicarious substitution of sin and all the rest: a small God concerned with small matters. Now we perceive the universe as nearly infinite in dimension, so vast in space and time it can only be expressed in terms of nearly esoteric mathematics. We are indeed very small, our concerns trivial.

But, as Carl Sagan said, that makes God very big.

There are some troubling questions about this, too large for me to answer. For example, why would God in an infinity of stars and planets, trouble about us in particular? If the end purpose of Creation is humanity, why would God bother to create this immense universe over such time?

Fundementalists have one answer, which reduces God to tinkering in something in size and time like the Copernican universe. Personally I prefer the wonder of an infinite God working in a nearly infinite universe in time scales beyond comprehension. And if you believe Fox's central insight, that God can be experienced directly by anyone, we should be flat with humility and awe.

* * * * * * * * *

The spring peepers (before the freeze-up) appeared this year on 27/03/07. ( I heard a few brave frogs again last night.) Last year, they were first heard on 1/04/06. Generally they aren't heard in this part of Ontario before the second week of the Fourth Month.


Christian Love and Language

I'm always struck how easily other Quakers on the 'Net explicate their faith; I feel tongue-tied and strangely inarticulate in comparison. When I wrote a little about my discomfort with Christianity expressed a couple of posts ago, it was really a crude rendering of a subject that for me is exceedingly complex --- very apparent to me when I reread my posting.

Some of this, I think has to do with the process of internalizing everything I'm reading and learning about Quakerism and trying to formulate some means of expressing it fully and ably. I'm a bit abashed, too, by the breath and knowledge many people seem to have on other blogs, and I some times think my own poor contributions are either naive or simple-minded. I'm also becoming aware of some of the cross currents and divisions within Quakerism; again, I sometimes think I don't have the competence to comment on them, though in fact I do have formed some opinions.

One of things I have become aware of is the tension existing between Christ-centred Quakers and those that are more universalistic in their faith. I was a bit shocked, in fact, that this division is become acute in some meetings in the Canadian Yearly Meeting, though (fortunately) not in mine, as far as I can tell. Some Friends, in fact feel quite intimidated and unable to express their ministry in Christ-centred terms for fear of criticism or worse.

This actually distresses me a great deal. Though I'm probably would place myself somewhere on the universalist side of the equation (if in fact there are "sides" at all) for me, at least, Friends is a Christian faith tradition and its core practices and testimonies derive from Christian scripture. Christian expression, accordingly, should be honoured and respected. It seems to me without this witness, our collective testimony and witness would be all the poorer.

This seems to be part of a larger debate occurring within Quakerism, framed around notions of authenticity and defining the Quaker "core", a conversation of which I am just perceiving the edges. To me, as a new attender (but maybe not to a weighty Friend of twenty-five year's or a lifetime's standing) it seems rather obvious: a belief in listening for the Inner Light and seeing that Light in all; corporate mysticism and corporate discernment, the movement of the Divine in our lives so that our lives become the outward witness of the inner reality of God's will; the Testimonies: all grounded fundamentally in George Fox's insight that God is accessible to all, and all drawing from the rich language of Christian witness and scripture.

For I think in essence this debate is about language, or rather how language signifies the interior reality. I do recognize this Christian language has inflicted some grievous wounds on some --- myself included. My "inner cringe" usually arrives at that point where language begins to adopt the norms and rhetoric of the fundamentalist. Mostly I fear it: having found a home with the Friends, and a spirituality which I am starting to see as transformative,I am afraid of this language which I associate with hate and exclusion. Yet oddly, I am comfortable with the old language of Fox and Barclay, and the plain ministry of Christ-centred Friends in meeting. Language as signifier: does it include or exclude me? Does it speak to my condition? Does it speak of love? If this language is Christian and Christ-centred, so be it: my interior reality may be different from someone who views Jesus as Saviour, but I can recognize the Christ-language points to larger, inexpressible truths --- and at the end of the day, why reinvent the wheel? In the event, Christian expression within Friends is and authentic expression of faith, and should be treasured and nurtured, for we all should be united in what I think the early Quakers saw as perfect Christian love, which is God's love, in inward communion with each other and with the Light --- whether we see ourselves as Christian or not.



As I was writing today, my partner called out: a coyote was in the barn paddock! We ran outside. The chickens and ducks were in an uproar. The coyote loped into the barn and we managed to corner it inside an old manger. What to do? I hate killing anything. But rounding up a live trap of a Sunday afternoon wasn't likely, and there was also the practical matter of convincing the animal into the trap. In the event, trapping it and moving it elsewhere would only send the problem to someone else. Letting it go wasn't much better: we had seen this particular coyote around the barnyard, and it had already taken five turkey poults (and the hen), two half-gown ducklings and 17 chicks. Killing it seemed the most practical thing. So much for Quaker non-violence, I thought.

So we called our neighbour and asked him to bring his shotgun. He killed it. It was a young male, scabby, emaciated and nearly furless from mange. Young male coyotes this time of year break off from their home packs and establish their own territories. I guess this particular coyote made an unfortunate choice. I regret having to kill him, but in the larger sense of having to kill anything. I have lived in the country long enough not to sentimentalize any animal, and this particular animal was treating our livestock as its personal buffet.

The (small) irony is that I was writing about Canada and the war in Afganistan; supporters of the war, I suppose, would draw analogies between the necessity of killing this coyote and the war on terror. I don't accept the analogy: people have moral agency and that spark of the Divine. Coyotes don't, or aren't at least concious of it.

At least, I think, the episode called my attention in a small way to how supporters of the war see it, and made me think about how I integrate concepts of nonviolence and peace into my own life. It is probably too easy to pass judgment on those who support the war from my safe perch on the other side of the argument. I came home from Meeting today self-righteous, riding my high horse, feeling generally provoked. I had reflected all this week about how this conflict had gradually and subtly transformed over this past summer from a "reconstruction mission" to a war. And then there was this from an article buried on page A15 in the Globe and Mail yesterday:
Many of the fighters killed [in Operation Medusa] — perhaps half of them, by one estimate — were not Taliban stalwarts, but local farmers who reportedly revolted against corrupt policing and tribal persecution. It appears the Taliban did not choose the Panjwai district as a battleground merely because the irrigation trenches and dry canals provided good hiding places, but because many villagers were willing to give them food, shelter — even sons for the fight — in exchange for freedom from the local authorities. . . But there are troubling signs that the area may be sliding back toward the same conditions that sparked the violent revolt. [Italics mine.]

Evidently, the Canadian government is upholding unjust governance against what the Afgani peasantry perceives --- rightly or wrongly --- as a liberating force, the Taliban. It is hard to imagine a more compromising position for the Canadian government, waging war in notoriously difficult terrain.

And so I went to Meeting thinking of this. Someone gave ministry: which side are you on, he asked, on the side of Christ and peace, or on the side of war?

Killing the coyote made me think of the old story of William Penn's sword: wear it while you can, said George Fox. We all want to be on the side of Christ, Prince of Peace, but we all carry the sword --- a sword of violence --- in our hearts. The thought of this is humbling. As I carry the peace testimony with me, killing this coyote reminds me that I am human too, and so are those who carry war in their hearts. They aren't the enemy and deserve better from me than my petty judgments.


On the Mark

Torture is blasphemy: it's no-brainer. To which I would add: war, racism, poverty, environmental degradation, and maybe a few others. Or am I being harsh?


Thoughts on Being Christian

One of the (many) things I have grappled with since I started attending is the meaning of Christianity --- and the meaning of Christ. Do I still consider myself a Christian?

I am gay, you see. (Already I can hear my putative audience cry out, "So what'?) I don't want to belabour the point, but the edifices of Christianity, in all its flavours and denominations, has not been terribly kind to me or people like me. Large segments of very respectable denominations want me stripped of my civil rights, imprisoned, or in extreme cases, put to death. Against no other section of society does Christianity make this argument, and against no other section of society is this language tolerated.* Well, life is tough and I'm not complaining: I live in a tolerant region of a very tolerant province and country. Some people have it much worse.

But still, I take it personally. How can I not? I read recently that an Anglican bishop described homosexuals as being "lower than dogs", the implication being that homosexuals are subhuman. Hardly created in God's image, eh? The Roman Catholic Church demands that gays be treated with respect and love, yet labels me "intrinsically disordered" and "inclined to evil": hardly worthy, I suspect, in the eyes of some Vatican prelate, of the dignity and worth God gives me as human being. And so on: I don't want to even start with the fundamentalists. (An aside: this language is often couched in terms of "strong medicine for the sinner", which I suppose is both a rationalization and a justification: curious it's not used for more egregious sins. "What crawling villain" says Blake, "preaches abstinence & wraps himself/In fat of lambs? no more I follow, no more obedience pay!" )

It's violent language and violating. It's deliberately exclusionary. So fairly or unfairly, when I hear Christian language (Christianspeak?) --- the language of salvation and sin, of restoring the Bible, of creating the Gospel Order --- I have an internal cringe. It's almost reflexive. It's part of a rejection of Christianity itself. It's a wound that won't heal, a mote in my eye. Is my vision so obstructed I can't see the Jesus of the Gospel who did heal the blind? I don't know. It may be that I never know.

But I know this: to trust in the love of my friends and my new Friends, and to trust in the Light. I won't pray for healing but I will pray to do God's will. If this leads me to Christ, it will be, I think, joyfully and light of heart.

*"Love the sinner, hate the sin", arguments for "religious freedom" and other such nostrums, are, in my opinion, meretricious and a crock. But that's another post, probably for another place.


Last of the Summer Tomatoes

It's either feast or famine. In the winter we all pine for real tomatoes and eat pallid greenhouse versions that could really double as tennis balls, now I have hundreds, maybe thousands of perfect, bright red, fragrant, vine-ripened. . .

Well you get the picture. It's a glut. And the frost is coming sooner rather than later. So what do you do with bushels of tomatoes? Make sauce, of course. So I spent a rainy afternoon last week doing just that. The deal with making tomato sauce is it's mechanically boring. Especially the peeling part. It affords plenty of time for reflection. It was interesting to me at least, how such a simple activity could be virtuous in both in the doing and in its result. A trite observation, maybe, a truism, but still: how many of us really take advantage of the mundane? Working with your hands, even in a small way, listening for that Divine Voice has its own rewards, not the least of which is the humbling realization that the Light is speaking even with flecks of tomato guts on your face.


An Introduction of Sorts

I have spent a lot of time pondering this blog, my meanderings and half formed ideas, and what would I say? Finally a little push from the Light: speak truthfully, speak from the heart, speak with love, and here I am.

I am an attender at a tiny meeting in rural Ontario. When I first arrived I thought of myself as an exile from the Catholic Church, a church I loved, and left with real regret and sadness; now I am thinking myself more as a landed immigrant* working his way towards full citizenship. I also thought, when facing the silence the first time, that this is easy. I was wrong. The silence is profound, yes, but trying, difficult, testing, complicated. "Be silent," said someone or other,"so that the God who gave you speech may speak." Listening for the Light, sifting through the self-delusions and rationalizations is hard work, and I sometimes come from meeting happy, if exhausted. I haven't had any earth-shattering revelations, no insights except for the commonplace (as if these aren't hard enough!), no leadings, save perhaps, for this blog. Yet I have witnessed in a meaningful way Quaker mysticism at work, and a gathering of four Friends huddled around a wood stove on a cold January morning has moved me beyond the expression of mere words.

I hope to write a little about my journey and about my reflections on Quaker thought and practice, listening all the time for the Divine. I am amazed, franky, at the diversity of opinion and thought in Quaker blogdom. I offer this in the same spirit.

* Canadianism, i.e. legal alien