Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Standing on our Heads

We need to spend more time standing on our heads.

Now I like keeping myself well informed. I get lots of emails and feeds from all over the place. I read two quality magazines every month, and Guardian Weekly every week. I watch lots of documentaries on the telly – mainly BBC4. I live in a house full of books.

All this information fills my head and makes me feel bright and light and I feel as though my head has become like a hot air balloon floating serenely through the sky. But then the wind blows and I am thrown this way and that. Should I do this? Should I do that? Should I ignore that? How important is this? Just what ought I to do?

The trouble with information is that it has no purchase on us – it is what we have been told, not what we have felt. We Quakers have a word for this – we call it 'notions'. But we are so caught up in the western enlightenment idea that thinking is the most significant thing we do, that we do not realise that thinking on its own is mere notions. Stuff we have read in books or found using Google. We have been taught that feelings are at best unreliable, and possibly downright dangerous. Stick to the facts and you can't go wrong. Yet until we actually experience anything for ourselves, and thereby engage our feelings first, we cannot effectively act on anything.

When we do engage our feelings, and know we need to act, we Quakers have a word for this as well – we call it having a 'concern'. We are no longer worried about whether we ought to do this or that – we are driven by our deepest emotions to get on with it without question. There is no thought about whether this is the right thing to do or not – you just know, in a place beyond thinking and mere words.

However, our feelings come from our bodies and flow down into the earth that is our home, leaving our heads up in the air.

So stand on your head and be rooted to the earth, and let the passion and drive in your groin and the fire and anger in your belly and the love and pain in your heart flow down into your head and displace all those mere thoughts.

Sunday, 21 November 2010


Today, in our Meeting for Reflection post-worship, we had the benefit of several recent attenders, who shared with us their feeling of uncertainty: as a newcomer, it is quite easy to feel wrong-footed. 'Everyone else is an experienced and knowledgeable Quaker. Why should I feel that I can offer ministry in this group, where anything I say will probably be seen as naive and trivial? I don't know why I came, and I probably shouldn't have.' Those of us who had been around a bit longer were able to say that we also feel some of that. To be uncertain is very OK. I felt this was a very valuable thing to say and to hear.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Kate & Craig's leaving party

Thanks so much to everyone who came to our party on Sunday, and especially to everyone who helped to organise it for us. It was an amazing send-off, and we both feel truly held and supported by the Meeting as we get ready to make our journey to Zimbabwe this Thursday. Gordon even made us this cake - iced by hand, with help from Google Maps...

(Kate claims that the little stick figure at the front is her).

Please continue to hold us in the Light as we make this journey. We really don't know where it is leading us, but the love and encouragement of our Quaker community in Sheffield makes it feel possible for us to take the risk of faithfulness in a way that we couldn't on our own. You are all a great gift to us.