From reflections on death and God's love to diversity
Reflections on death and God’s love
Recently I have been thinking about death. Not for the first time, in the winter of life, one is prone to reflections on this, one of the greatest mysteries of nature.
What a waste, I thought, so much learning, acquired wisdom, feelings of love and wonder. All the things that have been witnessed, the sufferings, all the laughter, the music, the beauty that those eyes have beheld. All gone in the instant of death.
Cruelty of cruelties, I thought. What kind of God allows such loss, such a waste? Surely all this is irreplaceable?
A while later I remembered that Charles de Gaulle once said that cemeteries are full of irreplaceable people. Then I pondered that even the most irreplaceable of men and women have to die, and the world is – and will be – enriched by their lives.
As I thought of the people that I have known, and who have died – how much I treasured the precious memories of what they shared with me. The word ‘waste’ no longer seemed to apply.
There must have been a certain amount of indulgence, of self-pity, in my musings. As I reflected further, it occurred to me that irreplaceable and indispensable people are born every minute of the day. Nothing is wasted; God’s love never dies.
Members and attenders
I was saddened to read Jamie Wrench’s letter titled ‘Membership and attendance’ (9 February). The implication seems to be that all attenders are without obligation and responsibility and conversely that all members of the Society are responsible and committed. Is this true? Surely not.
How many attenders do we know who are committed and contribute fully to the life of their Meeting? Indeed, many Meetings are kept going simply because of the support of their regular attenders, many of whom hold various positions of responsibility. My own Meeting is a good example of this.
Jamie himself states: ‘Time was when merely standing alongside Friends in public established one as a Quaker…’ I believe that this is still true today.
When will we rid ourselves of this false division between members and attenders? For me, anyone who identifies with Quakerism, and shows that by regularly attending Meeting for Worship, or by regular involvement in a Meeting activity, in other words who plays an active part in the life of a Quaker Meeting, and who lives a life based on Quaker values, is a Quaker.
I realise not everyone will agree with this viewpoint, but please, at the very least, let us not make statements that imply that attenders lack a sense of obligation and responsibility. It simply is not true.
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