Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Life is Never Fair ~ Johann Christoph Arnold

"What does forgiving really mean? Clearly it has little to do with human fairness, which demands an eye for an eye, or with excusing, which means brushing something aside. Life is never fair, and it is full of things that can never be excused. When we forgive someone for a mistake or a deliberate hurt, we still recognize it as such, but instead of lashing  out or biting back, we attempt to see beyond it, so as to restore our relationship with the person responsible for it. Our forgiveness may not take away our pain – it may not even be acknowledged or accepted – yet the act of offering  it will keep us from being sucked into the downward spiral  of resentment. It will also guard us against the temptation of taking out our anger or hurt on someone else."

~ Johann Christoph Arnold

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Brave Enough to Stay ~ Victoria Pearson

"When I speak of love, I am not talking about the avarice spewed in the media, the drug-hazed sentiment of the 1960s, or the lonely pining of the unpopular. I am talking about the power of justice love, where right meets right, where power bursts the bounds of human limitation, human evil. I am not telling my colleague, when he shares he is committing to another—good for you! now your life is perfect! What I am congratulating him on is his commitment to struggle and growth and the potential for transformation in the heat of what happens, when we are brave enough to stay. And this staying is good for us as individuals, and when it is right, it is good for the world, it builds the kin-dom. It changes things. It would do us well if we were more honest about what we do when we love, what we embrace and the power we have together that we do not have when apart.

And love is not simply something we do as couples. We love as neighbors, as friends, as adversaries seeking common ground, as teachers, as students, as children, as parents, as activists confronting injustice, as ministers and musicians and every other thing we can think to do and be, with love."

~ Victoria Pearson

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Illustration Linda Farquharson

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Better is Silence ~ Virginia Woolf

“How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.”

― Virginia Woolf

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Artwork from Charlotte Anabar

Sunday, October 28, 2012

On John Woolman ~ Sterling Olmstead

"What I see Woolman offering to the spiritual seeker is a detailed report of his own search, which shows a coherent and balanced pattern in which inner and outer are connected in life and practice. He shows us how to carry the motions of love we feel into the workings of the world. He does not withdraw from that world, nor does he become so fixated on results that he tramples over others, and he does what he does by addressing the witness in others. This is a pattern which is valuable for our own journey, and which can bring us close to the experience of seekers in other traditions."

Sterling Olmstead

Friday, October 26, 2012

Seeing in a Dark Wood ~ Norma Jacob

"Whether or not we subscribe to any definite religious creed, growing old makes it impossible any more for us to turn away from seeking out some support of this nature. What was immediate is now less significant than formerly, while by contrast, what was far away and indefinite has become close and increasingly real. The focus of our souls, like the focus of our eyes, changes as we age, and we change with it.

So we who are ageing can never know, any of us, what is coming next, though we must wonder more and more. The kind of unquestioning certainty which they had in the Middle Ages about heaven and hell is forever lost to us, and surely that is on the whole a very good thing. But we can have intimations, flashes of seeing in a dark wood. For me only two things now seem sure. One is that time must have a stop, and the other is that whatever lies over and around mortal time is not to be feared. With that, I shall have to be content."

 ~ Norma Jacob

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Artwork from Howard Phipps

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Solitude ~ Elise Boulding

"Solitude is the most beautiful condition of the human spirit. I understand now what St. Augustine really meant when he said, “Every time I go out among men I return less a man.” He was trying to say that in solitude he understood humanness, but easily lost track of it when confronted with his fellow specimens of humanity. I love humans now as I never loved them before when I depended on them daily. It is in solitude that I am learning to truly remember what I have lived forgetting. I hope to learn how to weave the golden threads of solitude into the warp and woof of family and community living. I know of no other way for us to become what we are created to be."

~ Elise Boulding

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Artist Lawrence Beall Smith

Monday, October 22, 2012

Moderate Living ~ Aotearoa/New Zealand Quakers

"Simplicity does not consist in following a strict formula, but in basing our choice of purchases, activities and lifestyles on moderation rather than extravagance. Moderate living avoids over-indulgence and slavery to fashion; it requires a responsible attitude to alcohol and drugs of any kind. Children and young people are under particular pressure to acquire, consume and do what is fashionable or aggressively advertised. Adults can help children to develop inner strength by their own example, and by working out together what is right and possible, given the family's circumstances. Simplicity has its own beauty. It does not exclude artistic creativity, which is a deep human need, and can be an expression of the divine. Quakers look for an inner stillness in worship and in personal spiritual life, and a simplicity which lets go of inessential commitments in order to be truly centred."

~  Aotearoa/New Zealand Quakers

Artwork fom Clare Curtis

Friday, October 19, 2012

Rest, Peace and Liberty ~ Elizabeth Fry

"I want less love of money, less judging others, less tattling, less dependence upon external appearance. I want to see more fruit of the Spirit in all things, more devotion of heart, more spirit of prayer, more real cultivation of mind, more enlargement of heart towards all; more tenderness towards delinquents, and above all more of the rest, peace and liberty of the children of God."

~ Elizabeth Fry

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Inner Listening Space ~ Elise Boulding

"The fact that I have been able in some way to reach back to the early rememberings, to the freshness of the feeling of God’s presence as I knew it when small, has been enormously important in keeping what wholeness there has been in my life. The inner listening place I developed so early has always been there for me in a very conscious way during times of unbearable stress. It is a space that cannot be crowded. And yet, as an adult, I lost the feeling of the immanence of God’s presence. I only remembered the space."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Peaceful Mind ~ Francis de Sales

"Be patient with everyone, but above all, with yourself. I mean, do not be disheartened by your imperfections, but always rise up with fresh courage. I am glad you make a fresh beginning daily; there is no other means of attaining the spiritual life than by continually beginning again, and never thinking that we have done enough.  How are we to be patient in bearing with our neighbour’s faults, if we are impatient in hearing our own? He who is fretted by his own failings will not correct them; all profitable correction comes from a calm, peaceful mind."

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Art by Ethel Sowers

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Busy Years ~ QFP

"In the busy years of home life the parents are upheld and strengthened by their dependence upon God and upon one another; the efficient running of the home, the simple hospitality, the happy atmosphere, are all outward signs of this three-fold inner relationship. Home-making is a Quaker service in its own right. It should be recognised as such and a proper balance preserved, so that other activities - even the claims of Quaker service in other fields - should not be allowed to hinder its growth."
QFP 1959

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Tragedy of Middle Age ~ Evelyn Sturge

"We must be confident that there is still more 'life' to be 'lived' and yet more heights to be scaled. The tragedy of middle age is that, so often, men and women cease to press 'towards the goal of their high calling'. They cease learning, cease growing; they give up and resign from life. As wisdom dawns with age, we begin to measure our experiences not by what life gives to us, not by the things withheld from us, but by their power to help us to grow in spiritual wisdom."

Evelyn Sturge

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Artwork from Cathy King

Friday, October 12, 2012

Plain Living ~ Adrian Fisher

"Plain living could be considered a form of "self-denial."...We might think of the practice of self-denial embodied as the pinch-penny, the party-pooper, the censorious grinch, the snarky, self-righteous authority who wants to deny everyone else's self along with his or her own. Perhaps there should be a new phrase, for in common speech, "self-denial" seems to mean self-punishment or even self-hater a method of manipulating or oppressing others and to have lost whatever positive connotations it once had. We are often urged to indulge ourselves, not deny ourselves. Yet to me, the discipline involved in plain living, and moving towards sustainable living, inextricably connects with nurturing the seed within. Plants can't grow in toxic conditions; neither do they grow because you will them to. Gardening requires watchfulness and love, requires watering, weed-pulling, daily care and attention. The self is not being denied so much as the identity, as expressed in one's way of life, is changing to reflect the growth of the spiritual self, the seed, the kingdom of God. It is a journeying towards communion with God, moving past distractions, and involves understanding the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things as what they are engines of unhappiness. Forced good behaviour constitutes oppression and repression, but as Gandhi points out, good behaviour undertaken through love is a way towards true freedom. One walks a new path, practicing self-denial in a positive sense that connects inner and outer worlds."

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Illustration  1955; George Hughes,  "Put the Tree There?"

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Inward Teacher ~ Paul A. Lacey

"How is the Inward Teacher known? In joy and health, but also in loneliness and alienation; in the deepest encounters with other people and in dialogue with great ideas and works; in love but also in emptiness; in hunger but also in plenitude; in solitude but also in community. Wherever we are is the starting-place for encountering the voice which can speak to our condition. We cannot compel the inner voice to speak, we can only try to practice openness and attention, and when we hear the voice we can only practice minding and answering. Fortunately, it is our nature as human beings, and it is God’s nature, that we can reach what Levertov* calls the triple communion, the communion within ourselves, with other people, and with that of God within each of us..... It is the bright page which leads us into all books."

~ Paul A. Lacey

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Painting by Jahaziel Minor at

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Authentic Life ~ 'Wee Dragon'

"When I am out with the children doing something like picking berries under the sun surrounded by farm land, I am almost immediately able to lose my hardened “Mean Mommy” exterior.  When we are gathered with some common purpose, away from the distractions of a house filled with junk, we get a glimpse of life as it is meant to be.  We were just playing at “work”; our survival certainly did not depend on these berries that we picked.  However, it reminds me that our family’s goal of becoming more self-sufficient (where the berries ARE something we depend on to add to our food stores).   When I read the Little House books, I see such a wonderful picture of a family living and working not for some secondary gain (money, entertainment, and “self-fulfillment”), but because G-d told us that we were to live by the toil of our own hands.  The meaning and purpose of life really was about G-d, family and the very simple blessings (and toils) of an authentic life. "

~Wee Dragon

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Artwork from Elizabeth Adela Stanhope Forbes

Monday, October 8, 2012

Two Kinds of People ~ Ursula Franklin

"At this stage in my life I am ashamed to say how long I lived under the assumption that there really are two kinds of people. There are the "good people" with principles who think about human rights and moral issues but they are pretty dumb about the world. And then there are hard-nosed realists, who really know what the world is all about. They make the hard choices and "bite the bullet" and leave us with the mess we have.

It had not occurred to me that the world is in a mess because of the hard nosed realists. The "good people" (whom one couldn't trust because they are soft and think of human rights and of little children or old ladies) in fact have contributed little to the mess. That mess is evidence that the hard-nosed guys don't know what they are doing. They believe in Newtonian force-counterforce stuff and they haven't a clue about living organisms, about emotion, or about the evolution of community. The discourse that we wish has to begin by clearly understanding that we face a mess that is caused by a wrong model of society and humanity. Though we have assumed that the "good people" have nothing to say, the fact is that the hard-nosed realists have nothing to say. Let us acknowledge the failure of method. It's not that we want to substitute one jerk with another one - a gentleman jerk, say, with a lady jerk. A method itself fails when it does not take into account this fundamental truth - that cooperation (non-violence) not only might work; it works in ninety percent of the cases."

~ Ursula Franklin

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Moral Commonwealth ~ J Field

"As individuals we must strive to stay connected, to our family, to our friends and to our community. We must acknowledge the social forces that keep us from bonding with people who might seem different from us and take concerted action to break down artificial barriers created between us all. We must let no one suffer in silent isolation, and rescue all from their literal and metaphorical solitary confinement. We must be like the roots of the redwoods, or the tubes that bring us food, and air and circulate our blood when we are on life support....
As a community we must work together to include all our neighbours as their full authentic selves in our society. We must call on our creativity to build opportunities throughout society for meaningful participation and for everyone to find support in each of lives challenges. We must support the institutions and events that break down social divides in our communities... We must have a very deliberate compassion and a thirst for justice to ensure that the less privileged among us can participate fully and equally in the blessings of life and our moral commonwealth."

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Sit Down to Eat ~ John Robbins

“Few of us are aware that the act of eating can be a powerful statement of commitment to our own well-being, and at the same time the creation of a healthier habitat. Your health, happiness, and the future of life on earth are rarely so much in your own hands as when you sit down to eat.”

~ John Robbins

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Silly Enough ~ Christopher Morley

“Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity.” 

― Christopher Morley

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Mennonite View of Peace

"We seek to be agents of reconciliation in all relationships, to practice love of enemies as taught by Christ, to be peacemakers in all situations. We view violence in its many different forms as contradictory to the new nature of the Christian. We believe that the evil and inhumane nature of violence is contrary to the gospel of love and peace. In times of national conscription or war, we believe we are called to give alternative service where possible.  Alleviating suffering, reducing strife, and promoting justice are ways of demonstrating Christ’s love."

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sustainable Abundance

"Do not confuse ‘standard of living’ with ‘quality of life’: There comes a point when pursuing a higher ‘standard of living,’ in terms of material wealth, adds absolutely nothing to quality of life, in terms of overall well-being.  Pursuing material wealth can even detract from quality of life if we aren't careful. If you focus on quality of life you will discover it doesn't depend on being materially wealthy. So step out of the rat race. Seek true abundance – sustainable abundance – in the simpler way. ‘There is no wealth but life.’

Be grateful for what we have. Do not always demand more. Let us embrace sufficiency, moderation, and frugality. Less really can be more.."


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Artwork from Steven Nobel.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Act like a Fool ~Matt Kinsi

"How often does ego keep us in the way of joy?  Thinking about what others might think, thinking that you’re someone “above” it?  How often does that ego keep us out? ...   Keep an open heart and joy will find its way in.  Let that open heart trump that ego.  Act like a fool, dance around the apartment at 1am, if that’s what it takes to express that joy".

~ Matt Kinsi

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(I think that this message would not have been lost on the Shakers ("Shaking Quakers") ~ HQ)

"..... spiritual practices which included not only elaborate rituals and dances, but prophetic trances, spirit contact, native American chants and the 'laughing gift'. In the laughing gift worshippers held their sides and reeled in their chairs till they became exhausted. "Spirit birds" brought spirit (ie: invisible) musical instruments and chosen members would march around playing spirit music. "

More about Shaker ("Shaking Quakers") dancing at:

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