‘Take heed, dear Friends, to the promptings of love and truth in your hearts. Trust them as the leadings of God whose Light shows us our darkness and brings us to new life.’
Let’s start at the beginning. A Quaker topic for A? – A is for ‘Advices and Queries’. A handy little red booklet that I find myself referring to, and quoting from, rather frequently. The above quotation is the first ‘advice’ and my current view is that it says all that needs to be said, though the rest of the booklet is valuable too.
So, what does it mean to me?
‘Take heed’ – not a phrase we use everyday – I understand to mean listen, listen well, take notice, pay attention and then act in the light of what I ‘hear’. Somehow, using the rather archaic word gives the advice more weight.
‘dear Friends’ – this is offered by Friends to Friends, with love. It is offered as advice not as an instruction.
‘the promptings of love and truth in your hearts.’ These promptings may come in different forms. It is possible that I may ‘hear’ an inner voice, or that someone may speak words that move me to action. It is equally possible that the ‘promptings’ are a response to something I read, see or otherwise perceive. I come a step closer to ‘seeing’ what is wrong (my darkness) and how to move towards correcting that (towards new life).
This summarises the Quaker approach to religion and to life. I commit myself to listening carefully, often in silence, to paying attention to that force within and beyond me, that I term ‘God’, in the belief that it has a positive purpose in the world. I commit myself to following these ‘promptings’ to align myself with ‘the will of God’ trusting that this will lead to a better world, to ‘heaven on earth’. I confess that I am often slow to respond, rebellious and questioning, but I keep trying. Will you join me?
I think we’ll return to ‘Queries’ when we get to Q.
‘Advices and Queries‘ forms the first chapter of ‘Quaker Faith and Practice: the book of Christian Discipline of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain’