W is for White Feathers

On the 100th anniversary of the beginning of world war I (4/8/14) about 2000 Quakers and others associated with them were already gathered in Bath for Yearly Meeting Gathering. One way in which we commemorated the day was an all age worship session in the big top.

On each seat as we came in was a cut out paper white feather. White feathers were used during WWI to humiliate conscientious objectors and their families. The idea was that in our semi-programmed worship we would reclaim the symbol.

As we sat in silent worship, it was suggested that on one side of the feather we write or draw our response to the question ‘what can you do to make the world a happy and peaceful place?’

I wrote ‘Smile. Love. Greet my difficult neighbour. Listen. Share.’

Then we were invited to turn the feather over and respond to the question ‘what does it means to be a peacemaker?’

I wrote ‘Listening and hearing both/all sides. Seek courage to speak out.’

At the end, we were invited to place our feathers in large buckets provided for the purpose (I hastily copied my responses into my notebook/journal before handing my feather in).

Some wonderful, behind the scenes, people, then displayed all the feathers in a huge white dove on the wall of the big top, where it stayed as a reminder for the rest of the week.

It was a powerful exercise, yet accessible to all (some of the children were glad of the ‘wiggle room’ where they drew and coloured on their feathers while free to move around on the floor).

I think my response ‘seek courage to speak out’ fed into the transformation that I wrote about recently.

One thought on “W is for White Feathers

  1. It always saddens me when I think that so many godly men and women were ridiculed, humiliated and even killed by their own societies for being conscientious objectors. What a brave act to stand up against what you believe to be wrong and be prepared to die for your principles; I’m not sure I could be so courageous……

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