Quakers … in the Life

Quakers…in the Life

Led by Jim Anderson and Friends

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“Oh! that Friends would so dwell in the life , that they might in all things exalt the standard of Truth… “
– John Comly, Journal of the Life and Religious Labours of John Comly, 1853

The title phrase is an old Quaker term referring to a sense of being gathered in a powerful unity, a sense of presence directing our lives. This, at least, is my understanding of it, and I wonder how many of us are craving a stronger sense of this in our meetings. Do we know the empowering experience of ourselves as participants in a community at work, seeking to embody a great vision of how life is to be lived? What is the source of this power, the shape of its practice in our meetings? I think we see the traces– in our tradition, the lives of earlier Friends, in writings deeply entered into, in occasions of joint work, study, worship, and service, in strong and deepening friendships. My hope is that a group of us, in a week-long learning community, might engage with these traces and nourish the seeds we find in our own lives. I hope, too, that we might carry our experience home as provocation and good news to our monthly meetings.

My plan is for a week-long series of short presentations or workshops offered by various Friends including Eric Moon, Rachel Findley, Stephen Matchett, Diego Navarro, Kathy Hyzy, and Paul Harris, that would each take up only a portion of one day. These would be supplemented by follow-up activities that would extend and integrate these into a coherent exploration of who we are as Friends and how we can work to invigorate and enrich our own Quaker lives and the lives of our home meetings. How Friends relate to the bible, to our testimonies, our social witness, our engagement with life and death, our spiritual practices, the lives of early Friends, the stories that shape us—there is certainly more to draw on than our week can contain. Yet I am convinced that a half-dozen topics, offered by Friends deeply engaged, can provide the framework for a compelling, even transforming, week.

The typical daily pattern will include:

–morning worship and a morning presentation,

–afternoon sessions of worship sharing, conversation, hikes, individual retreat time, informal gatherings, and
–evening sessions of music, story, participant presentations, and a quiet closing worship time.

On the last day, we hope to create together, a document, a program, a story, some “embodiment” to carry back to our monthly meetings as a seed, or a challenge.

Jim Anderson joined the Society of Friends in 1980 while teaching in Hong Kong. He has been active among west coast Friends since that time, while teaching comparative religion at the state university in Chico. Recently he has felt called to work with Friends eager to rebuild and revitalize our Society—through study, restructuring, active witness, and new patterns of daily living. Attendance at the world gathering in Kenya gave this work a larger context. He hopes this week long session will create a learning community that will seed transformation.