Sunday, June 18, 2006

A SAYMA Photo "Opp"

I'm happy to report a Liz sighting at SAYMA, and I have photographic proof:

I had a great time talking with Liz about FGC, blogging, and a number of other things. I wish we had had more time to chat.

I'm sorry I won't be at The Gathering this year, the On Fire! Renewing Quakerism through a Convergence of Friends interest group sounds really great Since it is hosted by a number of Friends from, I am curious to read the different viewpoints Friends from this group.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Healing Workshop

Ceal and I did our first workshop together this year at SAYMA. It was titled "Holding Each Other In The Light - Quakers and Healing". We only had about 2 hours, and we planned to do a Meeting for Worship for Healing in the second half, so we had to fly through some of the material. We touched on healing as a tradition among Quakers and back to early Christians and the Israelites. To me, the highlight of the workshop was the meeting for healing. It was similar to ones I have experienced at the Gathering - larger and more intense than what we usually have in Atlanta. It never ceases to amaze me how well Quakers take to this kind of meeting - there was vocal ministry, singing, touching, hugging, tears and smiles. We had 5 young Friends in the meeting as well, and several of them really seemed to take to it. I can't describe the joy I felt at seeing that.

During the workshop, I read this entry from George Fox's Journal from the period 1648-1653, because it really speaks to me:

When they had haled me to the common moss side, a multitude following, the constables, and other officers gave me some blows over my back with their willow rods, and thrust me among the rude multitude; who having furnished themselves with staves, hedge-stakes, and holm or holly bushes, fell upon me, and beat me on my head, arms, and shoulders, until they had deprived me of sense; so that I fell down upon the wet common. When I recovered again, I saw myself lying in a watery common, and the people standing about me, I lay still a little while, and the power of the Lord sprang through me, and the eternal refreshings revived me; so that I stood up again in the strengthening power of the eternal God and stretching out my arms among them, I said, with a loud voice, ' Strike again; here are my arms, my head, and my cheeks.' There was in the company a mason, a professor, but a rude fellow, who with his walking rule-staff gave me a blow with all his might just over the back of my hand, as it was stretched out; with which blow my hand was so bruised, and my arm so benumbed, that I could not draw it to me again; so that some of the people cried, 'He has spoiled his hand for ever having the use of it any more.' But I looked at it in the love of God, (for I was in the love of God to them all that had persecuted me), and after awhile the Lord's power sprang through me again, and through my hand and arm, so that in a moment I recovered strength in my hand and arm in the sight of them all.

It isn't just that this is an example of the gift of healing, it also speaks to why our connection to God is so important in living out Jesus' commandments. George Fox stood up and essentially turned the other cheek - to use the more literal interpretation of that action. He was able to do this because he was strengthened by God. I believe this is why we need to take care to nurture our spiritual life - it gives us the strength and support to carry out what God asks of us.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Meet Hector Black

The keynote speaker for the 2006 SAYMA Yearly Meeting was Hector Black, from the Cookeville, TN Monthly Meeting. He spoke on the subject of peace - we had speakers the previous night talk about simplicity, integrity, community and equality. While there are many interesting and inspiring aspects of Hector's life, the most riveting is how he and his family dealt with the murder of Hector's daughter Trish in 2000. His first reaction, amidst all the pain, was that he wanted to kill the man who killed his daughter. But as the love of God worked to heal his broken heart, he overcame that desire.

The Victim Impact Statement from the trial contains a lot of the material he used in that section of his talk. After giving a little background about Trish and how devastated they all were by the murder, this is how Hector concluded his statement:

I know that love does not seek revenge. We do not want a life for a life. Love seeks healing, peace and wholeness. Hatred can never overcome hatred. Only love can overcome hatred and violence. Love is that light. It is that candle that cannot be extinguished by all the darkness and hatred in the world.

Judge Goger, that is the reason we are not asking for the death penalty.

I know that ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’ was not meant to be empty words. I don’t know if I have forgiven you, Ivan Christopher Simpson, for what you did. All I do know is that I don’t hate you, but I hate with all my soul what you did to Patricia..

My wish from my heart for all of us who were so terribly wounded by this murder, including you, Ivan Christopher Simpson, is that God would grant us peace.

For me, Hector's story had greater impact on me because he shared his initial reaction of "I'll kill the bastard!" Hector wasn't some perfect being who could just absorb an event like that and say "It's okay, I forgive you." He was a person who, through his anger and pain, allowed the love of God to work in his heart.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Back from Yearly Meeting

I got back from my yearly meeting (SAYMA) last night. I am still rather tired physically, but spiritually refreshed. This was Ceal's last year as registrar, which kept us both pretty busy, her much more than me. Having been enmeshed in several blog discussions, and lately worshipping with a more Christocentric group, I was a little curious as to what my reaction would be to the various goings-on at SAYMA. I worried that I might not have patience for things that I think are out of place, or are over-emphasized. As it happened, this was probably my favorite year at SAYMA so far. I have become acquainted with quite a few Friends, and I would estimate that during Meeting for Business, I could name more than half the Friends present. It was so wonderful to see everyone, to greet them, to worship with them and enjoy our time together. Although I am usually an introverted person, I took great delight in saying hello to so many people. Perhaps one day I will be like that all the time.

I feel like there are wisps of ideas running through my head, that I am trying to snag and bring forth here. In the next few days, I hope to be able to write more about SAYMA (and maybe provide a picture or two).