Monday, 26 January 2009

A little glimpse of Heaven

I was having trouble today settling into silence. I was uncomfortable in my chair, I have a chesty cough at present which kept interrupting me, odd thoughts kept popping up - you know how it is.

Suddenly I was aware of a chaffinch singing. The two oak trees immediately in front of my house are still leafless, so it was quite easy to spot the little bird, hopping from branch to branch. I must have watched and listened to him for ten minutes, as he made his way round both trees before finally flying off.

I sat back in my chair and took in my surroundings again. The sun had come out, low but surprisingly bright, warming the trees and the cream rendering on the house opposite. The sky was a pale but distinct blue.

And I felt utterly at peace.

Monday, 19 January 2009


Doesn't Monday come round quickly!

My brain this week is full of fog and has no deep insight to offer. What I can offer, though, is some of the more unusual Quaker links I am accumulating in my search for Newsletter fodder.

I'd like to start with the Digital Quaker Collection. This is like Project Gutenberg for Quaker writings. It has complete texts of all kinds of Quaker writings, including well-known books like Barclay's Apology and the Journals of John Woolman. It's hosted by Earlham School of Religion, and is an invaluable resource for older texts. A small and more easily navigated selection of the most famous texts can also be found in the Quaker pages of the Street Corner Society.

I enjoyed browsing this collection of Quaker Quotes, which range in time from the beginnings of the Society up until 2002. This is a really varied selection - from the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech to an article entitled Danger of Quaker Smugness!

The Southern Quarter of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting has an excellent outreach website for children called KidsQuake, in which you can find an illuminating list of Quaker films and documentaries. I also found two different websites containing examples of Quaker Humour - some funnier than others, of course! My favourite is a note spotted on an office workstation: 'I am a Quaker. In case of emergency, please be quiet.' Which tells you all you need to know about my sense of humour....

Lastly for today, the Quaker Jargon Buster. Never again need you wonder about the meaning of daffodil ministry, being eldered, or the significance of the phrase, 'That name would not have occurred to me...' This is a UK site, so if any non-UK readers would like to tell me about jargon from their areas, I would love to hear it :)

Monday, 12 January 2009

So far, so good

Well, it's Monday, and I'm here as I planned.

Now - what to say??

Actually, it's easy to know what to say. I am feeling so much happier and more connected for having made a point of putting aside a little time each day for silence. I've never been one for surrounding myself with extraneous noise anyway, but a little intentional silence, where I try to connect with God, has been a positive and happy part of each day so far.

In the past when I have had quiet times (I'm not keen on calling them that - it's too close to Quiet Time, which has too many bad associations for me from my times with charismatic groups), I've used a Bible verse or a section of Advices and Queries to concentrate on while I settle in to it. At present I have gone back to reading my Twelve Quakers and... booklets, which I was given when I became a Member. They are ideal for this, as each section is fairly short, and is always thought-provoking. (If you follow the link - there are two on the following page as well.)

What do you do to settle into silence?

Monday, 5 January 2009

First Post of 2009

I don't do New Year's Resolutions. I don't see the point in setting myself up to fail by giving myself a list of things that I know I will not keep up, even until the end of the first month. But every January I do take the opportunity to look at what I'm doing and decide if it's what I want to do.

What I want to do this year - and I have no idea of whether this will work, because there are so many variables - is to go back to something I tried on my knitting blog, and which worked well until I got very sick with food poisoning. This was to write a little each week, regardless of how little, just to keep my writing muscles flexible. I do tend, especially on this blog, to wait until I am struck by a good idea - and so weeks can go by without my writing a thing! It's a strange thing about inspiration - the more I write, the more inspiration I find...

I also want to try to write only in the blog, and not in my head. I'm a terror for getting an idea, and then planning the whole thing out mentally, coining phrases and marshalling my ideas, until I spend so much time on it that I am bored with the whole idea and never actually write it down. There are numerous wonderful blog entries in my head which never made it to the screen. I've also just taken over as the Newsletter Editor at my Meeting (Durham, part of BYM), so I'm intending to bring this habit to bear on my newsletter writing, too!

Finally, I want to be more organised about my times of silence. No pump produces water without being primed, and my writing pump is fed directly by my spiritual priming. It's sheer laziness that makes me turn on the TV or radio instead of spending some time every day in silence, and I must break the habit.

So, I'm going to try for a little every Monday. Don't expect great wisdom every week - but I will at least try to show up :)

Happy New Year, everyone.