Wednesday, 30 January 2008

More Thoughts

Greetings Fellow Bloggers!

As a new person to this blog site I’ve been busy digesting the many recent blogs and comments and feeling very energised and excited by it all. I now feel compelled to share some of my thoughts and responses that are crystallising having immersed myself in this rich pool of reflections and challenges.

I’ve been thinking about what God is to me and my overwhelming sense is that God is Love- simply that. The other stuff like Peace, Joy, Understanding, Acceptance,Truth, flow from this primary source and force.

Then I think, so what’s my relationship to God, and I come up with myself as a channel, as in the St Francis of Assisi Prayer- ‘Make me a channel of thy peace……’

How do I become an effective channel? By keeping my heart and mind open, and by an attitude of humility. Oh, and also by creating the space. Space as a ‘fertile void’, from where truth can emerge.

It strikes me that just as we don’t have to go looking for worthy causes to support, so we don’t have to go looking for this deep knowing. It’s there, or should I say God’s there, if only we allow Him/ it in.

Isn’t this what your saying Craig when you talk about our ‘inner guide’. For me ‘the way’ emerges from ‘the space’, they feed each other.

I’m embarrassed by the simplicity and obviousness of what I’m writing, but maybe that’s my ego coming in.

I don’t think God confines ‘Himself’ to working through believers. Guess this is where the ‘That of God in everyone’ comes in. It occurs to me that some of God’s finest work is through atheists and agnostics. They don’t carry the same religious clutter that can get in the way so much. I love the story of the ‘Good Samaritan’ in making this point.

I’m really glad that people are talking about how we can be more Inclusive.

I realise right now that I’m more interested in whether we are friendly enough, rather than whether we are religious enough. We acknowledge that we are a Society of socially privileged types. The question seems to me to be not ‘how do we attract a more diverse membership?’ but ‘How much do we really care about being more inclusive?’ I wonder if our real work in this area is to prepare the ground. Do we first need to become more aware of our secret fondness for sameness and compatibility? Our hidden prejudices, and fear of difference? I must confess I feel very comfortable in our Meeting most of the time. I am after all, white and middle class and well educated, but some recent events have really shaken me up and woken me out of my complacency.

Warm wishes



Maurice Bartley said...

Thanks Chrissie for entering the place of sharing ideas - the fruits of deliberations. Surely this is what it is all about!

I love your sense of God being Love and our relationship to God being that of channels. This is superbly simple yet we can get so tangled up. You remind me that we can’t change God; we can only become more open to channelling his/her Love.

You rightly ask:- What can we do to become more effective channels? This reminds me of the classic:- ‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference’.

We cannot change God or ‘what is’. We cannot change others or even our own physique but we can change our way of thinking, acting and of relating to others. We can become more open to God and to others. We can allow others to enter our space but we know that it is not productive to invade theirs.

I love too your way of relating the idea of the Good Samaritan to unbelievers and the problem of ‘Religious’ people going out to look for ‘worthy causes’. You remind me that there is a worthy cause in front and beside me each time I go out or sit on a bus. Loving friendship is in short supply in our world and each one can make a real contribution every day. Great!

Craig Barnett said...

Hi Chrissie,
Your reminder of the need to'create space' for God to work in us recalls the old Quaker image of God's Spirit as 'the Seed'. Like a seed, the Spirit needs space and light to grow in our lives. Very often we seem to trample down the fragile shoots of that new growth with our lifestyles of over-work, over-consumption, constant activity and distraction.
Also your question - "Do we first need to become more aware of our secret fondness for sameness and compatibility?" strikes a chord with me.
I suspect that the main reason we are not more socially diverse as a community is just this. Despite what people say about wanting to be inclusive, in fact many people would be less comfortable and feel less 'at home' in Meeting if there were more different kinds of people there.
I was very struck recently by meeting the pastor of a Jesus Army congregation in Sheffield which has recently welcomed about 200 Slovakian Roma migrants into their community! He has learned Slovakian so that he can preach in their language, and members of the church have visited the shanty town where they come from. Can you imagine this happening in our community?

chrissie h said...

I like your response here Craig, about difference and inclusiveness. I think you're right about us fearing that we would feel less at home in Meeting if we were a more diverse group. I've been wondering if this is because so many of us have felt like misfits elsewhere. So when we find a community where we belong, it's precious to us, and we don't want to risk shaking the boat too much. No conclusions on this just thoughts and more thoughts...