Joyous Bubbles

Saturday, February 25, 2006

I have a great quote from Houston Smith:

"Everything that came from Jesus' lips worked like a magnifying glass to focus human awareness on the two most important facts about life: God's overwhelming love of humanity, and the need for people to accept that love and let it flow through them in the way water passes without obstruction through a sea anemone."

I would like to share three poems that were shared with me at a workshop I went to on drawing out gifts. All three are by a poet called Hafiz. . . .They were translated by Daniel Ladinsky.

Beautiful Creature
There is a beautiful creature living
In a hole you have
so at night I set fruit and grains and little pots of wine and milk
Beside your soft earthen
And I often sing to you,
Bust still, my dear, you do not come out
I have fallen in love with someone
Who is hiding inside
of you
We should talk about this problem
Otherwise I will never
leave you

Some Fill With Each Good Rain
There are different wells within your heart
some fill with each good rain
others are far too deep for that
In one well you have just a few precious cups of water
That "love" is literally something of yourself
It can grow as slow as a diamond
If it is lost
you love
should never be offered to the mouth of a
only to someone
who has valor and daring
to cut pieces of their soul off with a knife
Then weave them into a blanket
to protect you
There are different wells within us
some fill with each good rain
others are far to deep for that

A Great Need
of a great need
we are all holding hands
and climbing
not loving is letting go
the terrain around here
far too

Thursday, February 23, 2006

What Canst Thou Say?

This morning I was thinking back on a conversation I had last summer with a friend about comfort and religion. We were both participating in a theological academy, and part of what we did was Bible study. We were considering a truly nasty bit of the Old Testament, where God says to kill every man, woman, and child of a tribe. I was deeply upset that many of my fellow students took this as the truth. For me, the idea that God would do something so blatantly immoral is ridiculous. My friend challenged me saying, "why would your comfort matter at all to God" My answer was, "why wouldn't it?" In my personal theology (Liberal Christian-Quakerism) 'God is still speaking' (to use a wonderful UCC slogan). Why should the 'Truths' of God in the Old Testament have more weight then the Truths that I know? It is basic Quaker belief that the Bible is only one of many sources of knowledge about God, the most important source being the knowledge we gain from listening to the light. I think that my deep discomfort with that passage from the Old Testament was a message-a message that was telling me that the face of God is love.

I labored a great deal over the course of the month-long theology academy with this friend over comfort and discomfort. He saw my emphasis on the love of God, on God being revealed through joy and happiness, on the bliss of being in the light of God, as a comfort with God bordering on complacency. In his personal theology God caused discomfort, God was challenging, terrifying, awesome and difficult. I agree whole-heartily that God can challenge us, God may very well ask of us things that are scary and difficult. I find myself overwhelmed sometimes and brought to tears at the awesomeness of God. Sometimes I quake. However, this is not all of what God is. God is not just discomfort, God is also comfort. God is the little beautiful things in life. Joyous bubbles. So I think that it is OK to be comfortable with God-it is OK to rest peacefully in the knowledge that we are all beloved children of God.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I was browsing through documents on sexuality and Quakerism, and I came across some really good stuff. I was at the Quaker Intergrating spirituality and Sexuality site and they have a listing of excerpts from YM's Faith and Practices on sexuality. I got this from the Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and Association Faith and Practice (1990):

"Recognizing the power of sexual feelings, we as Friends seek to know ourselves and to express our own sexuality in loving ways, calling and answering to that of God in others. We recognize that responsible sexuality varies, and we hold that that which is of God is not to be condemned by the children of God. Accordingly, Friends seek to deal with sexuality as an expression of the love of God within human kind. We refrain from offering judgment upon any given manifestation of sexuality unless it is harmful in its personal or societal results."

How refreshing. This doesn't help much with creating a personal ethic on sexuality, but I think its pretty great for a corporate statement.

New York Yearly Meeting's Faith and Practice does not touch on sexuality. It seems sometimes they the issue of sexuality is so contencious in the Religious Society of Friends that we don't even want to consider it. I think that is a grave mistake, religion is tradtionally where we look to help us form our ethics, and what does it say about us that we have nothing that we agree on?

In every one of the statements from Faith and Practice (whether they be from the East coast, west coast or the middle of America) the Friends acknowledge that sexuality is important and must be considered along side spirituality. I found it predictable that this was pretty much the only thing that they all had in common. Personally, I found some of what our evangelical Friends (especially what they said on homosexuality) highly upsetting, and not at all in line with the Quaker testimonies.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Thoughts from Powell House

I was at PoHo (Powell House is the Quaker retreat center for NYYM. . .they have a fabulous and ever growing youth program) this last weekend and the topic of the conference was art and spirituality. I was struck (yet again) by how uncomfortable some of the PoHo attenders were with discussing religion. Spirituality was fine, but religion obviously brought up, to some, very negative connotations. Those types of discussion remind me that many of the youth attenders do not attend their local MM, and usually they consider PoHo their only spiritual home. Although Powell House is wonderful (!) I wonder what is wrong with their MMs? And how likely is it, if the Powell House youth program is their only spiritual home, that they will stay Quaker after they graduate out?

I also noticed that it was mostly the younger set, the 15-16 year olds who were very uncomfortable discussing things like prayer and 'when they experienced God.' I look at these 15 year olds and see that they are thriving in this very Quaker (and dare I say, religious) atmosphere of Powell House and yet I know that if I asked them if they went to Quaker meeting they would tell me they weren't interested.