Thursday, January 21, 2010


I started this year thinking that I would not have a New Year's resolution.  I posted the welcoming prayer, thinking that maybe I would have a prayer instead of a resolution this year.  Although that is still my prayer for the year, I decided that I should have a resolution too:
This year, I resolve to take up more space.
I don't plan to physically get bigger, but I am going to try to speak up more.  I know this won't be easy, but I think it's important, and I hope with some practice, it won't be quite so hard.

In the spirit of this resolution, I thought I'd post about the books I was in last year.  Two books came out last year that included pieces I wrote, and I haven't mentioned them at all on my blog yet.

The first is Writing Cheerfully on the Web, edited by Elizabeth A. Oppenheimer.  This book includes blog posts by 32 Quakers from the various branches of the Religious Society of Friends.  One of the things I love about reading Quaker blogs is how each post is like snapshots―a look into where the writer is and how she is living up to her measure Light in that moment.  This book is like a snapshot of the conversations Friends were having over a few years.  I enjoyed seeing how the writers were interacting with each other through their blogs.  It was also fun for me to see so many familiar names.  I met some of these Friends as a direct result of having this blog, and it is thrilling to see all of these bloggers together in print.  I think this book is a fun read and raises good questions, regardless of whether you follow the Quaker blogosphere.

The second book that includes a piece I wrote is Enlivened by the Mystery, edited by Kathy Hyzy.  In this book, Friends responded to the question, "How have you experienced God or the Divine?"  The responses include stories, poems, and photos, as well as essays and artwork.  Each section begins with a few queries, and reading through the book is like sitting in meeting for worship.  Some of the pieces made me laugh and others made me want to cry.  I am grateful that Friends shared so deeply and amazed at all of the ways that we see God at work in our lives.

I recommend both of these books to you.  I am not trying to sell you anything (and I don't get any money when either of these books are sold), but I think these books represent some of the best writing by Friends published in the last year and I feel blessed and honored to be included in them.

Friday, January 15, 2010

More Thoughts on Leadings

Should one have a sense of leading before serving on a committee?

This question has surfaced in a variety of ways in my meeting recently and has been troubling me.  The argument seems to be that there are certain All-Purpose Friends who Get Things Done and do good work on many different kinds of committees.  Thus, the nominating committee can put these Friends just about anywhere, to the good of the meeting.  The All-Purpose Friend sees that something needs to be done, agrees he could do it, and says yes to the nomination.

The problem for me is that whenever I agree to serve on a committee without a sense of leading, things go badly.  Committee meetings feel like a burden, conflicts arise, and the work is not smooth.  I get resentful and feel like I am not appreciated.

This is not to say that things are always easy when I do something because I have a sense of leading.  On the contrary, that work is hard too, and I usually find myself questioning my decision at some point.  But there is an underlying sense of rightness, or at least a memory of my initial clarity to help me through hard times.

So I think it is important for Friends to have a sense of leading before serving on a committee.

The next question is, what does it mean to have a leading?  I don't have a good answer for that.  I know how I feel when I have a leading, but I don't know how other people feel unless we talk about it.  And I know there are not always words to describe the experience, but I want to know how other Friends experience the Spirit or Way Opening when considering what to do.

At the center of this is our commitment to listen to the Spirit.  The role of the meeting is to listen to the Spirit and name gifts in Friends, gifts that the Friends may not know they have.  The role of the individual is to listen to the Spirit, consider the gifts the meeting has seen in them, and use those gifts for the good of the community.

But what do we do if no one has a leading to do something we consider essential to the life of the meeting?  What we always do: wait, listen, and trust that God will give us everything we need.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Registration Is Open!

One of the many things to look forward to in the new year is the 2010 Pacific Northwest Quaker Women's Theology Conference.  Those of us on the planning committee have been working on this conference for about a year and a half now and it is hard for me to believe that it will be happening so soon.  Registration for the conference is now open online and we have a great new website, thanks to Sarah P.  I am especially excited about our theme, and I look forward to the ways God will work in and through us as we gather together.

Date:  June 16-20, 2010 at Seabeck Conference Center in Seabeck, WA

Theme: Walk With Me: Mentors, Elders, and Friends

Quotes for Reflection:

In preparation for the conference, each woman is asked to write a brief reflection paper (1-2 pages) on the theme and/or any of the quotes below, and submit the paper online. The papers will be collected and shared only with other women who are attending the conference.

From: 2 Timothy 1:5-7
I’m reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois, then in your mother Eunice, and now, I’m certain, in you as well. That’s why I want to remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God didn’t give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, of self-discipline.
From: Martha Paxson Grundy, Tall Poppies: Supporting Gifts of Ministry and Eldering in the Monthly Meeting, p. 27, Pendle Hill Publications.
Many Friends today are crying out for spiritual mentors, for ministers and elders who are lovingly steeped in our tradition. Some Friends hunger for a deeper relationship with God, for a connection with a divine power that heals and empowers. We long for wise and loving role models and examples.
From: Patricia Loring, Listening Spirituality Vol. II, 1999.
As meetings became settled, elders performed a variety of functions, according to their gifts and leadings. . . . [A]ll gifts and ministries were for building up the spiritual life of the meeting and the Society: directing and re-directing people to the Spirit of God, to the Inward Christ, the Light, the Inward Teacher, the Guide, the one true Priest and Shepherd. It was clearly understood that any member of the meeting might be called to some part of this service, but that some were specifically led by the Spirit at any given time.
About the Conference:

The Pacific Northwest Quaker Women’s Theology Conference draws women from Friends churches and meetings throughout the Pacific Northwest. Our primary goal is to spend time listening to God and to each other. The focus on narrative theology encourages women to share deeply and talk about how the Spirit is at work in their lives.

During the conference, we worship through singing, unprogrammed silent worship, and a message from a pastor. The conference also provides opportunities for women to share their interests in workshops, interest groups, activities, and free time. Home groups provide a safe space for women to reflect, process, and share from their own experiences.

By bringing women together from the different branches of Friends, we hope to discover the best of our faith tradition and take what we have learned back to our faith communities. We also hope that the bonds of friendship we form will extend beyond the conference and help us move toward reconciliation.