I is for Islamophobia

In February I went to Woodbrooke on a weekend course entitled ‘Understanding Islam, Challenging Islamophobia’. The aim may have been to help us challenge Islamophobia, the result certainly challenged me. The day after returning I wrote:

This course was challenging to us as participants. Some of us were challenged trying to learn and understand basic facts about Islam in a short space of time. All of us were challenged by our reactions to headlines from newspapers, to some examples of current government policy and by meeting some people who have been personally affected by Islamophobia. We were also encouraged that we could do something to counter this. Learning more about Islam, generally becoming friends with Muslims living in our locality, complaining about inappropriate reporting in the media, visiting a local mosque are all examples of positive actions we can take.

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I had previously taken courses about Islam so the basic introduction was useful revision to me, but not a huge challenge. But I was challenged by examples of how the press supports terrorism by inducing fear in the way they report even quite minor events and totally ignore other positive things that happen. Fear and threats sell newspapers. We considered ways in which government policy claims to be fighting the threat of terrorism, and yet also feeds the fear and compounds the problems. We had speakers who shared very freely from their personal experiences and we learnt a lot. I also felt challenged to find ways to respond. We did identify small actions we can all take, which are all good, but somehow feel too small. And yet I am only me, and I’m short of time and energy.

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I did seize the opportunity when colleagues asked about my weekend to tell them a little of what I had been doing and to ask if they felt threatened (several of my colleagues are Muslim). On the whole they felt fairly safe, they report nasty looks and being blanked rather than physical threats, though they are concerned about family members who commute into London.

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Since this course there have been more incidents blamed on militant Islamists including Brussels and Glasgow and I have heard incidents of leaflets being handed out in my normally tolerant home town inciting negative responses to these. See my last post.

One very specific thing that has stayed with me from this weekend was when in my small group Moazzam Baig was asked ‘were you tortured at Guatanamo Bay?’ and he replied ‘everyone was tortured at Guatanamo Bay’. He clearly didn’t want to go into detail. It made me think that perhaps he meant everyone. Obviously all the detainees, but also, in a less obvious but equally real sense, all those involved in detaining and torturing them. I’m still processing this challenge.

In the meantime I’ll go on learning, and being friendly, visiting mosques and helping others to do so. Small things, but every little does help.

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H is for Hate

On the whole the town I live in is relatively harmonious. It has a a very diverse community with people from many racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds, who mostly get along without more than the usual tensions between neighbours.

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However, I have been hearing recently of attempts to distribute leaflets outside mosques in the wake to the Brussels attacks. Responsible people at the mosques who deemed the leaflets inappropriate asked the leaflet distributors to leave and reported the incident to the police. So the incidents did not escalate, but it causes concern that they happened at all.

I have also heard of inappropriate leaflets being seen in local shops in the wake of the killing of the Glasgow shopkeeper. Again the incidents were handled calmly and promptly and the leaflets were removed by the shopkeepers without the need to call the police. But it makes the Ahmadiyya Muslims feel vulnerable. I have also heard reports of the shock they feel that such an attack could have happened in the United Kingdom, where so many of them have sought a safe haven.

As a group of faith leaders hearing these concerns we resolved to make a public statement in the local paper denouncing such attacks and supporting the Ahmadiyya. We are also going to explore the possibility of regular multi-faith prayer meetings as a way of supporting one another and encouraging wider participation.

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We all need to stand up and speak out against any incitements to hatred, to work with the police (our local hate crime officer seems to be well respected), to act ourselves if we see or hear something inappropriate and to take longer term actions to increase understanding between all the different groups that make up our wonderful diverse community.

G is for Growing Points

As I said in my last post (F is for Fear), I heard Advices & queries 33 read in meeting for worship recently, and another part that particularly struck me was:

Try to discern new growing points in social and economic life. …

It seems to me that there are many growing points in these areas – the ones I want to discern are those that, if nurtured, will move us all closer to a realisation of what might be termed ‘the Kingdom of God’ here and now.

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And then the next question is ‘how can I help to nurture this growing point, this seedling?’

I’m a ‘little bit here and a little bit there’ kind of person, rather than a totally dedicated to one project type. So my allotment is sown with a little bit each of a lot of different crops. This approach tends to avoid gluts, but sometimes doesn’t produce enough of one crop or another. It usually does produce something. One crop fails but another is an unexpected success.

Back to social and economic life. Where are the growing points I might help to nurture?

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One recent development was a household decision early last year that the time had come to make a commitment to a political party, not just talk a lot (however loudly) at home. So we all signed up with the Green Party, having realised that that was the party with policies closest to what we wanted to see happen. I think it would be fair to say that I saw this as a ‘growing point’ (along with many others in the run-up to the 2015 general election). Joining and paying a regular subscription was one small way I could nurture this growth.

Then came the call for potential candidates, both for the general and local elections. Long discussions ensued in our household. If need be, could or would any of us be prepared to stand? We wouldn’t expect to be elected, but there needs to be a name on the ballot paper for people to be able to register at least a protest vote. Was it another way we could help? In the end one of us did stand for the local council in our ward, picking up over 100 votes, and we all learnt a lot about the practicalities of how elections work. This year is an all-out election in our borough, so we are all standing, in order to help fill all the spaces on the ballot papers. One small action has led to another. And reminds me of Advices and queries 34:

Remember your responsibilities as a citizen for the conduct of local, national, and international affairs. Do not shrink from the time and effort your involvement may demand.

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Another growing point that I’ve noticed and wanted to encourage is the interest in Basic Income. At present I’m only observing and occasionally commenting in social media – a very low level of nurturing, but something.

Yet another growing point that I’m watching is the Transition Town movement, especially as it has now come to our town. I don’t see a role for me at present, and I really must not take on too much …

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I see all these as growing points that relate to commitments Quakers have made in recent years towards being a ‘low-carbon, sustainable community’ and working for greater economic equality and justice. I’m sure there are many more.

The growth in Islamophobia, on the other hand, is something I want to help weed out not to nurture. Again though it is by small steps, not necessarily very direct steps. My involvement with our local Interfaith Association is one way to be taking action. It’s more like planting trees than growing annuals. More on this may follow when I get to ‘I is for …’

F is for Fear

I heard Advices & queries 33 read in meeting for worship recently:

Are you alert to practices here and throughout the world which discriminate against people on the basis of who or what they are or because of their beliefs? Bear witness to the humanity of all people, including those who break society’s conventions or its laws. Try to discern new growing points in social and economic life. Seek to understand the causes of injustice, social unrest and fear. Are you working to bring about a just and compassionate society which allows everyone to develop their capacities and fosters the desire to serve?

There is so much to do here that I went back to the introduction to Advices and queries, part of which reads:

Advices and queries are not a call to increased activity by each individual Friend but a reminder of the insights of the Society. Within the community there is a diversity of gifts. We are all therefore asked to consider how far the advices and queries affect us personally and where our own service lies.

Something that spoke to me personally was ‘Seek to understand the causes of … fear.’

In particular I have been thinking recently about Islamophobia, terrorism and fear. I attended a course ‘Understanding Islam, Challenging Islamophobia’.

I don’t watch television news, it is too graphic for me, and I increasingly don’t listen to the radio. I used to listen while I washed up, cooked and cleaned, but I have been working on just doing what I’m doing. Being aware that I am preparing vegetables, washing up, sweeping – whatever it may be. The downside of this generally helpful spiritual practice is that I am somewhat isolated from what many people are hearing and seeing in the media reports.

The course made me look at recent newspaper headlines, gave me opportunities to meet some people directly affected by islamophobic attitudes and helped me to think about government policies.

Terrorists seek to influence the world by creating a climate of fear – so that is one cause of fear.

Many of our newspapers report events (terrorist attacks and other totally unconnected events) in a way that increases fear – another cause. Other media especially radio and television behave similarly. Social media are clearly a factor – my feeling is that they can work both ways especially as different people use them in very different ways.

Many government policies and announcements also increase fear, while apparently seeking to reduce it. I was amazed to hear last autumn a government pronouncement that Russian bombing in Syria would increase fear and lead to increased radicalisation and violence, only to be told a few days later that American bombing in Syria (supported by Britain) would reassure the Syrians and reduce those wanting to join ISIS or similar organisations.

The PREVENT strategy, as currently implemented in at least some parts of the UK, is increasing fear levels especially among minority groups.

So is there anything I can do to help reduce these levels of fear? In the specific context of islamophobia another factor is fear of the unknown. People who have no contact with Muslims are more likely to be affected by media images. I live and work in a multi-ethnic, culturally and religiously rich part of a town with a population that mostly gets along well together. It seems really important to help more people to a better understanding of Islam, and to just meeting Muslims socially and in normal daily interactions at work and in the shops to build understanding that we are all just people with largely the same concerns. My Muslim colleagues report that they are subject to nasty looks and some unpleasant verbal insults, but don’t, in this town, fear physical assault. They are, however, worried about others in their families who need to travel into, for instance, central London, for work. Most parents from all backgrounds would have a similar concern, although it doesn’t lead any of us to avoid such travel, despite some recent terrorist attacks on public transport venues.

So I’ll talk to people, circulate reports of the course, and, particularly important I feel, continue the work I’m doing with others in the Watford Interfaith Association. No drama, but some positive action that is within my present capabilities.

E is for Equality

I’ve been thinking of write about equality, but there are so many aspects that I could consider, inside and outside the Religious Society of Friends – housing, earning, learning, race, gender, sexuality, disability – the list of areas where people are not treated equally seemed endless.

Then I was reading Qf&p as part of our current ‘Reading Quaker faith & practice’ exercise when I came across this passage.

Quakerism need not be defined exclusively as white, Christian and middle-class, and such culture need not be adopted as the culture of those who are convinced. When this does happen the inequalities and unequal power dynamics of our society are reflected in our meetings and in this way Black people are discouraged from fully participating in worship.

Our Society is often blind to the gifts and richness of other traditions and this cultural chauvinism impedes its development. Racism within the Society of Friends is perhaps more damaging because it is unconscious and springs from stereotyped assumptions: ‘And no harm is meant by it. Harm may be done but it is never meant’.

Epistle of Black, white, Asian and mixed-heritage Friends, 1991

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I was shocked to realise that that it was written in 1991. It seems to me that we have not made a lot of progress in the 25 years since then. We still appear to be white and middle-class, though there is increasing doubt expressed about the label Christian. I am aware of those who feel they don’t fit when it is assumed that everyone has had a university education, or that everyone has a well paid job, or more probably an occupational pension, that allows them to live in middle-class comfort and indulge in a wide range of pleasant activities. I have heard of Friends who used derogatory terms about people of colour without even realising that a Black person in the group would be offended by that. As it says in this quotation ‘And no harm is meant by it. Harm may be done but it is never meant’.

I look round my local meeting on a Sunday morning and I might see as many as three people of Black, Asian or mixed- heritage. Remembering back to about 1991 I would probably have seen two, two of the three who regularly worship in my local meeting. We are usually forty to fifty gathered on a First day morning. There really hasn’t been much change. I live in a large town with a thriving multi-cultural population.

I’m somewhat at a loss as to how to change this. I can’t undo being white, or my Christian and middle-class background. Our meeting house is in one of the most affluent parts of the town, but it isn’t easy to change that.

Clearly we all need to be more aware of the harm we do that we don’t mean to and of how we cause it. Perhaps with awareness I will begin to see how to avoid it, how to change.

D is for Death

Advices and queries 30. Are you able to contemplate your death and the death of those closest to you? Accepting the fact of death, we are freed to live more fully. In bereavement, give yourself time to grieve. When others mourn, let your love embrace them.

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Contemplating our own death. Not easy. Contemplating the death of those closest to us. Probably harder.

Contemplating my own death. That’s closer to home, more specific, getting harder. Contemplating the death of those closest to me. Very difficult.

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I can cope with some of the practicalities.

I’ve made a will, as has my spouse. At some point they need to be reviewed, but they are written in general enough terms that they probably stand for now.

I’ve registered with the MS tissue bank. They welcome donations of brain, spinal cord and a small piece of muscle tissue. It has to be taken shortly after death. It’s important to let people know one’s wishes about this. I have talked to my close relatives about it and that was OK. My spouse has signed up too, samples from people without MS are also needed for research.

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I’ve thought about my funeral and discussed with my family. While I’d love a sky burial being butchered and fed to the red kites flying over Winter Hill, I’m accepting that a woodland burial in a willow casket (sustainably sourced) in a foetal position is a far more practical option. An accompanying meeting for worship would be my suggestion, but funerals are for the living not the dead – so those left can do what they like as far as I’m concerned. A do-it-yourself funeral would be my family’s general style though, as well as my suggestion.

I’ve thought through and discussed my views on assisted suicide, having a diagnosis of MS brings such things a step closer. I’m convinced that I don’t want to ask anyone to help me die. I think it would be wrong to ask it of anyone. That means I have to endure the pain and deterioration in function that is almost certainly my lot. Some days I have a lot of pain and wonder if I’ll hold to this resolution.

I’m aware of my spouse’s choices too, to quite an extent. Though I think we both should write it all down. We thought to put everything in a book, but the younger generation think it should be on google drive where they can easily access it too. My parent’s have done the paperwork ready for enduring power of attorney, wills, lists of where their money is invested, prepaid funeral plans, everything in order – and I have copies of all that would be needed.

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But what about the emotional aspects of all this?

In bereavement, give yourself time to grieve.

This is the really hard stuff. I’m naturally good at being practical, sorting out, organising, trying to support everyone else. But admitting that I need time to grieve too …

I went to my father-in-law’s funeral full of how I was there to support my spouse and our children, how I could cope with the practicalities and hold others while they cried. The service began and I burst into tears, didn’t notice anyone or anything else much for the duration – just cried all the way through. It was healthy and needed, but caught me totally by surprise. So what if the deceased is my spouse, or my child, or my parent?

Clearly a lot still to work on.

C is for Cathedral

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‘Quakers don’t build cathedrals, they have committees’

This phrase, from the introduction to an old version of the Committees* Handbook, was offered to us in vocal ministry at the closing worship of QCCIRs* committee meeting recently.

For me it immediately threw up several pictures.

Firstly, that both are places of worship. At a recent training day for clerks* and committee secretaries I had heard powerfully the importance of worship in the life of a committee*, and the advice ‘if in doubt have more worship, time spent in silent waiting worship* is never wasted time’.

Then lots of images around St Albans Cathedral. I was born in St Albans, and have lived near to there nearly all my life. The abbey* and cathedral are ever-present and have been for many centuries. The Church of England is not only ‘established’ in a constitutional sense, it is established in the landscape. Over the years I have gone to the abbey* for many different reasons including as a tourist; to get a light lunch in pleasant surroundings; to attend large scale services. I am fascinated by the decoration (while also wanting to remove it all). The gradual revelation of paintings on pillars that were whitewashed over in the reformation* has been fascinating.

A particularly powerful memory is of a visit with a group of predominately Muslim women from Watford. When it came to time for midday prayer, they went to one of the side chapels, spread their coats on the floor in place of prayer mats and prayed. I felt that my only possible response was to kneel in the pew nearby and pray too.

Another image that came to me is how parts of this cathedral have fallen down over the years. It has been patched in different materials (flint, stone, Roman brick and tile salvaged from older buildings) and repaired and extended in varied architectural styles. Yet it remains a physically intact edifice, a place of prayer and of pilgrimage, the home of an active Christian community, and, of course, a tourist attraction. Sometimes our Quaker committees seem to be falling down, we rebuild, perhaps with different materials, in different styles, but they too can go on serving.

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*Glossary

There is quite a lot of ‘Quaker speak’ and other words that assume certain background knowledge in the above, so for those unfamiliar with it I’ll try to interpret.

Committee – British Quakers have committees at all levels from local meetings to national bodies. Sometimes they oversee work done by paid staff, most, especially locally, do the work. themselves. Committee members are almost always appointed to serve for a triennium, only exceptionally do they serve for more than two successive triennia. Committees work using the Quaker business method where the business is conducted in the context of silent waiting worship and minutes are agreed during the meeting.

QCCIR – Quaker Committee for Christian and Interfaith Relations. A national committee that represents and responds on behalf of Britain Yearly Meeting (the national organisation of Quakers in Britain) to other faith groups. It also encourages Friends to become involved in inter-church and inter-faith activity.

Clerks and committee secretaries – clerks serve a committee by presenting the business and recording the minutes in the meeting, they may also handle communications between meetings. They are a servant of the meeting, rather than being in charge of the committee. For national level committees they are often supported by a paid staff member who handles much of the administration of the committee.

Waiting worship – Quaker worship takes the form of expectant waiting in silence. It is usually completely unprogrammed, but anyone may speak if moved by the Spirit to do so.

The abbey – not ‘Quaker speak’ but ‘St Albans speak’. Locals commonly refer to ‘the Abbey’ as if it were the only one.

Reformation – the dramatic change in the Church of England when it split from the Church in Rome under Henry VIII. Monasteries were dissolved, buildings were knocked down, much decoration was painted over or destroyed. It was part of a long period of major disagreement between catholic and protestant factions within the church.

B is for Bible reading

Recently I went away for a retreat* with Christian leaders from across Watford from a wide range of organisations and denominations. One of the strange things to me is the idea of starting with Bible readings. As a Quaker I start with expectant, waiting silence which may lead me to the Bible but quite possibly elsewhere.

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However, on this occasion one of the initial readings was from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (3:14 – 19):

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

The phrase ‘so that Christ may dwell in your hearts’ really spoke to me. Like early Friends I could read this and relate it to my own experience, in this case of the Inner Teacher. It stayed with me throughout the retreat, where our theme was ‘going deeper’ and we considered and shared what it meant to each of us to go deeper with God personally and with our congregation or organisation. The depth of sharing was amazing.

We also worshipped together in a variety of styles and heard about other unity movements, similar to Christians across Watford, in other UK towns and cities, and across the world.

Some years ago, challenged on a Woodbrooke course to be bold and speak out about how I would like to help change the world, I committed to paper and said to my small group that I wanted to help bring the Kingdom of God to Watford. In one way I believe that it is already here, even though it doesn’t look much like it. What is needed is to show people that and to change the things that don’t fit. A good start is for us all to ‘love our neighbour as ourself’, another is for us to do this together. This group is one that is working towards the same aim (even if we picture the Kingdom a bit differently) and is modelling it in the relations we are all building with one another, and, in our various ways, with the much wider community.

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* I am cautious of the word ‘retreat’ in this context. It suggests to many a quiet, inward solitary occupation. This was a retreat from the immediacy of our daily lives and from Watford (though we only travelled across Hertfordshire), but very much a seeking together for the will of God for ourselves and our town. And it was certainly not quiet, we did a lot of talking, but with a lot of good listening too.

B is for ‘A Heart Broken Open’ – a Book review

I like to read, but I’m quite a slow reader and find little time these days to read actual books from cover to cover. I’ve a tall pile of ‘to be read’ volumes. Recently I picked one out of the pile that had been there since Feb 2014 – I know, because it was a gift and had a note inside. Almost immediately I started to read I was grabbed by it, and as I continued my enthusiasm just grew. A friend hearing my enthusiasm suggested I review it for our local Interfaith Association newsletter – which I did. Since others may be interested, I thought I’d post the review here too.

A Heart Broken Open – Radical faith in an age of fear by Ray Gaston

This book is very much based in the author’s personal experiences in inner-city parish ministry, on a visit to Iraq in 2004 and a desire to be alongside the Muslims in his parish in a time of rising Islamophobia and the beginning of the ‘War on Terror’.

Ray relates his experiences in the anti-war movement in 2003, including his trial for ‘obstructing the public highway without lawful authority or excuse'; his experiences visiting Iraq in 2004 on a pilgrimage with a Shi’a Muslim friend which he describes as ‘beautiful and humbling'; his experiences fasting during Ramadan alongside his Muslim neighbours and his reflections on what he learns. It was at the shrine of Lady Zaynab near Damascus where he ‘felt a real sense of the presence of God’ and ‘… I wept. I felt my heart being broken open by God for the people of Iraq – this was the preparation I had needed …’

He remains grounded in his Christian faith which he finds strengthened by the insights and challenges of learning and experiencing more about Islam. He admits that his actions at times led some to leave his congregation. The way was not always easy, but he clearly felt led.

His account of fasting during Ramadan is almost entirely recounted by reproducing the journal he kept at the time, without editing it. I found this immensely powerful in helping me enter into the experience. The book also includes short chapters from some of those who shared parts of the journey with him. One of these recounts another person’s experience of sharing the Ramadan fast which she found very different to Ray, but a valuable experience none the less.

I was also particularly moved by his court appearance where, when called to stand, he knelt and said ‘Rather than stand before you, I prefer to kneel, not to the authority of this court, but to the authority of God …’ and proceeded to call on all present to join him in prayer for the ‘people of Iraq’ and for ‘our nation’ taking part in such a ‘blasphemous, immoral and criminal war.’ Equally moving, in a much more private scene, Ray speaks of visiting his dad during Ramadan: ‘I also want to give the time … over to him and when we are together make it a space where I focus on him, without my mind being elsewhere. Honouring him, which I so often fail to do.’

A Muslim contributor recommends that this book ‘primarily aimed at a Christian audience’, ‘be read by Muslims, as it is a beautifully written spiritual adventure that will resonate with all those who are seekers of a spiritual path”.

I would endorse that but extend the recommendation to all ‘seekers of a spiritual path’ of whatever religion and to all those who seek to apply their spiritual insights in their daily lives. This book is very much about how one person has responded to God’s call to action to make the world a better place for everyone. I am inspired and humbled.

My Faith in Practice

This is the text of what I said at Area Meeting today10/1/16. Most of it is already on this blog under Q is for Quaker in 2013. But a copy was requested for circulation and it seems as well to post here too while it is, in some way, topical.

I was only asked to speak today at short notice, but yesterday morning, in response to a question, I found myself saying:

What do I know? Not very much:

  • that I should stayed married to Jim

  • when I breathe in I know that I am breathing in, when I breathe out I know that I am breathing out

  • I am alive, which is better than the alternative

  • God loves me

These things are deeply spiritual and also quite pragmatic. The Quaker way is, I’m increasingly aware, simultaneously mystical and practical. Basically, all I need to do is follow Advices and Queries 1 ‘Take heed, dear Friends, to the promptings of love and truth in your hearts …’. The rest just follows.

And now, as I said to Ryan, and in true ‘Blue Peter’ style, here’s one I wrote earlier:

Why am I a Quaker?

because it’s where God wants me to be,

because it’s a place I can work out how to follow the teachings of Jesus without the rituals and creeds that troubled me in other churches,

because I feel it’s where I belong,

because it gives me a safe spiritual home from where I can engage with different traditions,

because I feel accepted and challenged,

because together we seek the will of God for us, here and now, and try to follow it,

because Quakers understand that words are inadequate for expressing deep spiritual truths (which is why this is such a hard question to answer!),

because I go to Meeting for Worship and am aware of the Presence.

I discovered I was a Quaker in my late teens/early twenties when searching for an understanding of God, what God wanted of me and what my Guide promise to ‘do my duty to God’ really meant. I’ve realised that it doesn’t matter to me whether God is ‘real’ or a human construct, but that it does matter to me that I believe. Within Quakerism, I have been able to explore my beliefs and deepen my understanding, and experiment with different ways of expressing those beliefs.

How am I a Quaker?

by remembering that there is ‘that of God’ in everyone I meet, be that face to face, by telephone, by email, in online forums, or otherwise (I was LM clerk when I wrote this, so lots of these opportunities arose),

by acting from love, not from anger,

by finding frequent opportunities (alone or with others) to be quiet and reconnect with the Presence,

by pausing to give thanks for food, friends, health, doubts, difficulties, sunshine, rain, everything life offers me,

by heeding the ‘promptings of love and truth’ in my heart,

by expressing gratitude,

by giving time to listen,

by being aware of the present moment, where I am, and who I’m with,

by trying to love my neighbour as myself,

by questioning why I’m doing what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, how I could do things differently,

by asking ‘is this the way it would be in the Kingdom of God / Republic of Heaven / Paradise ?’

by continuing to make changes (however small) to the way I live to make my lifestyle simpler, more peaceful, more honest, better aligned with the will of the Divine.

In practical terms, I do a lot of Quaker stuff: attending Meeting for Worship, serving as elder and registering officer, convening children’s committee, accepting the huge challenge of being on Quaker Committee for Christian and Interfaith Relations (even saying the title is quite a challenge!).I do a small amount of Buddhist stuff: walking mindfully and trying to follow the five mindfulness trainings.

Outside Quaker structures I do a very ordinary, part-time office job for the NHS, run a Guide unit, serve on the committee of the local interfaith association, grow some fruit and vegetables on my allotment, try to keep up with the housework and support family members. I am blessed with a supportive family and local meeting, good colleagues and friends.

I have a vision that the Kingdom of God is right here, right now, in Watford, as elsewhere, and a desire to help other people to perceive that. The way to that end is by many small steps, and mostly not by talking ‘God language’. It is by what I do and how I do it, not by what I say.