Letters - 13 May 2022

From Compassion to Epiphany


I read Clive Ashwin’s article about compassion on 15 April. I agree that compassion is ‘an attitude of mind’ but suggest that it is not found in formal structures but in the daily round of relationships we engage in.

During lockdown, there was a huge, informal, spontaneous coming together of people in their localities to help. This has turned into a mutual aid movement, with people helping each other out in their localities.

These people are engaging out of reciprocity, so less about seeking out people in need and more about sharing pain, fear and love with others through practical action in mutuality, in their own neighbourhoods: very Quakerly!

Let us have confidence in the way we walk alongside others, enjoying that of God as we go.

This is the very stuff of compassion!

Elizabeth Sawyer-Bayliss

Holders and heeders

Elaine Miles (1 April) asks for a word with a distinctive Quaker meaning to replace ‘overseer’.

Elders are responsible for the right holding of Meeting for Worship – ‘holders’.

Overseers listen with practical commitment and spiritual sensitivity, they take heed (Advices & Queries 1) – ‘heeders’.

Holders and heeders are strong and simple deriving from monosyllabic words. They reflect Quaker practice and values. They may seem unusual at first, and some useful and interesting conversations may result.

Christine Cannon

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