Letters - 13 March 2020

From a common purpose to quaking, not shaking

A common purpose

I always enjoy Tony D’Souza’s articles and in his latest contribution (28 February) I found his ‘four steps’ of particular interest. I share the view that what he describes conforms closely to the practice of early Quakers. This process takes place at a subconscious level, being a state of awareness and not one of conscious and deliberate thought. I find the word ‘reflection’ helpful in this respect, in the sense of looking into a mirror – ‘the divine mirror’ – in which we contemplate ourselves set against a greater reality, a surrounding presence. We both judge and are judged by the image we behold.

Secondly, arising out of step one and the acknowledgment of our shortcomings and wrongdoings, I would hope for a conscious desire for transformation and forgiveness from that ‘something other’, the loving power which is beyond us and yet works within us for change – and which after the close of Meeting continues to work both within and alongside us, recreating our love and friendship for all those we meet. We meet for worship, not for mere self-examination or group meditation. We gather in the hope of experiencing the renewing Power of the Spirit which George Fox called Christ. A Quaker Meeting is a communal act facilitated by stillness and the awareness of others joined in a common purpose. London Yearly Meeting stated a century ago to other faith communities (Quaker faith & practice 26.15) that ‘this is our Eucharist and our Communion’. Friends may wish to use other terms and names but the reality behind them does not change.

Peter D Leeming

Untangling truth

I am not a theologian like Tony D’Souza, and I am not very good with words, but now I am aware that the word ‘truth’ obviously has many levels.

I look at my childhood and see how I learnt about truth. The time when I threw a shoe at my younger sister and cut her lip. Mum came out and asked me if I had thrown the shoe. We both denied it! But mum knew.

I look at some people who steal. Maybe from a need to have drugs for their addiction or maybe from greed, but the truth is they steal.

I look at a property developer who came to our village. He said he had a certificate to cut down a woodland but when, eventually, the document was looked at it was to thin the woodland. It was too late by then, all the trees had gone.

I look at clever people manipulating statistics and words (and maybe even history) to make things seem the way they want them to be seen. They make sure public perception moves to a place where they can get what they want. What is truth here? How can we distinguish fact from fiction? (Maybe we all manipulate things for our own gain at some point in our lives? So we know the feelings.) Observation of the outcome, maybe, is the only way to see what is really going on in these cases.

If we look for the truth with a pure heart then we will observe this as well, by actions and outcomes. If the truth has been corrupted into hate and/or killing we will see this. Then we are all left, in the end, with a personal judgement about what is the truth.

Barbara Mark

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