*Afterthought #57 – Hopeful Resources

Earlier this month in my post, Doing Hope, I described how “The Work That Reconnects” workshop transformed my despair about climate change and the outcome of the 2016 election. As a follow-up, the workshop sponsors sent information about organizations and activities that support active hope; I’ve added a few others that I turn to, as well as a QuakerSpeak video about some of the roots of activism among Friends. These are all good companions on the journey.

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“We Were Made for This Moment” – http://eileenflanagan.com/we-were-made-for-this-moment/, an online course by author, teacher, and activist Eileen Flanagan to help participants work for a more just and loving world. The course will blend three types of teaching—social change theory, spiritual discernment, and personal empowerment. Classes meet online the five Mondays of January (January 2 to January 30) from 7:30 until 9:00 pm EST. Registration: $50 for five weeks, $30 if you register by December 6 or if you recruit a friend to take the course with you.

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On Being –  http://www.onbeing.org, is a public radio conversation and podcast, a website and online exploration, a publisher and public event convener. On Being opens up the animating questions at the center of human life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live?

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YES! Magazine – http://www.yesmagazine.org, reframes the biggest problems of our time in terms of their solutions. Online and in print, we outline a path forward with in-depth analysis, tools for citizen engagement, and stories about real people working for a better world.

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Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) – https://www.fcnl.org, a nonpartisan organization founded in 1943 by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) that follows values of integrity, simplicity, and peace to build relationships across political divides that will move policies forward.

 

25760-copy-qvs-banner2Quaker Voluntary Service (QVS) – www.Quakervoluntaryservice.org, fosters dynamic relationships of service, witness, and worship in a living Quaker faith. In a world oppressed by the powers of violence, domination, exclusion and fear, QVS empowers transformative partnerships in the work of liberation and justice.

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http://songsforthegreatturning.net – Gretchen Sleicher is a singer, songpasser, songwriter and facilitator of The Work That Reconnects. She created the Songs For the Great Turning website to help spread songs that bring us together and sing us into a new life-sustaining society.

 

 

A Quaker Vision for Political Activism

 

*“Afterthoughts” are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, maybe even bumper stickers.

*Afterthought #56 Clearness Committee How-To

In my forthcoming memoir, Hiking Naked: A Quaker Woman’s Search for Balance, I write about how my husband and I requested a clearness committee  from our Quaker meeting to help us find clarity on a major decision about work and home. In Afterthought #53, I posted a recent QuakerSpeak video about what’s involved with being a member of a clearness committee. This month, QuakerSpeak presented a how-to for being a “focus person” of a clearness committee – that is, what this process is like for the individual (or couple) seeking clarity about a question. These Friends express well the strength and comfort I’ve received from participation in clearness committees.

 

 

*“Afterthoughts” are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, maybe even bumper stickers.

Afterthought #53 Clarity by Committee

candlesThe clearness committee is one process Quakers have developed to help people discern when, or even if, Spirit is leading them. It’s like going to your favorite aunt when you’re trying to make a decision. She nods slightly as you weigh pros and cons; she responds to your wonderings with gentle questions that unlock the answers inside you.

Quaker “aunts” and “uncles” have sat with me several times as I’ve sought clarity about decisions regarding moves, work, and schooling. We’d meet together just as we do in Quaker worship. After about fifteen minutes of sinking into the silence, the clearness committee convenor would ask me to explain the decision I was seeking clarity about. The committee members would ask evoking questions, questions that only I could know the answers to. These “listening hearts” set aside personal opinions and listened deeply to my responses, supporting me to hear inward guidance.

Nearly four years ago, I wrote about my friend Jon Watts when he organized the largest clearness committee in the history of Quakerism to seek clarity about his work. Like me, Jon strives to “make decisions in a discerning way, to find the way forward that I can’t imagine, can’t arrive at just through reasoning.” A year later, I reported the results of Jon’s discernment in Afterthought #23 and announced the launch of his new work, a YouTube video series called QuakerSpeak.

And now, three years into this ministry, Jon is again exploring Quaker clearness committees with this recent QuakerSpeak video. If you’re curious about this process of spiritual discernment, this segment offers descriptions from a variety of Friends about how clearness committees work.

 

*“Afterthoughts” are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, maybe even bumper stickers.

*Afterthought #51 – Listening as an Act of Love

I’m continuing to read and enjoy Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work, the latest book from StoryCorps that I reviewed in my previous post, The Perfect Pairing. And, as so often happens when I tune in to something new, I’ve experienced some lovely synchronicity—in this case, regarding the book’s example about the importance of listening.

As part of my research about Callings, I visited the StoryCorps website and found this video introduction for the project.

I was struck especially by this comment, “When you listen, great things are going to happen.” StoryCorps has some facts to support that claim. In 2015, the project surveyed listeners and found out some great things have happened as people have listened. Here are a few:

  • Increased understanding of people with a disability or serious illness
  • Increased understanding of immigrants, Latinos, and African Americans
  • Feeling connected to people with different backgrounds
  • Reminded listeners of their shared humanity
  • Helped them see the value in everyone’s life story and experience
  • Became interested in thinking about how society could be improved
  • Made them feel more positive about society

 A few days later, I got some clues about why Dave Isay considers listening “an act of love” in this On Being interview with Krista Tippett. Now I want to read another StoryCorps title, Listening Is an Act of Love.listening cover

Of course, I also was delighted with Isay’s answer to Krista’s question that she opens each interview with about his religious or spiritual background in childhood: “I went to Hebrew school when I was a kid. And I didn’t connect at all. I went to a Friends school for high school. I think I’m culturally Jewish—and maybe a little more spiritually Quaker.”

On the heels of that interview came this QuakerSpeak video.

In this conversation, a Quaker named O talks about the role of listening in healing our humanity. She also offered thoughts on what happens when we don’t listen:

My concern is that we don’t listen to each other, and it creates the world we see… People not being heard, not being seen, not being appreciated, not being valued, not being recognized. People not being recognized for that of God that dwells within them… And so we fragment… We become broken because we are not seen for who we really are.

O refers to the Quaker practice of listening each other into wholeness… to the place “where our heart is actually touched.”

My heart has been touched by all of this listening.

 

*“Afterthoughts” are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, maybe even bumper stickers.