Phoenix and I are visiting Wandsworth Meeting in London. As we spent time with Michael Mears, the creator of This Evil Thing, the one man play about conscientious objection during WWI he brought to Old Chatham, we discussed the many ways of being FOR peace.
This particular quote from our conversations -- "Not everybody will sit in the road holding a Quaker Meeting while Arms Dealers meet in a convention center." -- speaks to me. There are lots of ways to be for peace and no one knows exactly which way will inspire another to "take off their sword."
The raising of human consciousness starts with sharing. Sharing our deeply held leadings. Sharing our experience. Allowing ourselves to be moved by the light of God in others and the frailty and vulnerability of ourselves. In sharing our weakness it becomes a strength.
I was invited to share my peace witness with the Wandsworth Meeting in a meeting for learning afterwards and as is often the case with me I never know quite what to share. I wonder if it is the "right thing to share" or if the part of my Quaker journey is the the "most moving" or "most compelling." I've always tried to not prepare, but rather be led by spirit in these matters. And after my talk David Amos, a member, stood, held his hands together and spoke so humbly. He said "you moved me" and began to cry.
It was a moment of clarity for me. I'd always known that the peace action I'd taken was the right thing for me do do, but I'd often wondered about what effect my peace witness might have on others. Would it shed light on peace? Would it inspire?
The work of peace is must never be considered done. It is an ever expanding piece of art and exploration. A verb that weaves and moves with the times. What speaks to one generation may not speak to another. To keep vigilance with peace work is to remain engaged with it. A static peace witness is a dead peace witness. A cold and soulless event that has moved from a verb to a noun.
He/she had a "peace witness." It was active. It was alive. And then it became a thing.
Queries on peace and the many ways of being Quakerly
The images below are from a note from Hank, an American from Illinois, who lives now as an expat in the UK and is a member of the Wandsworth Meeting.
He shared his own war tax resistance story with me and even at the age of 80 was still working through his experience; what his witness was like for him. I sent him one of my stories from when I was jailed.
His note illustrates perfectly how sharing our own light can be so helpful to others who might need to hear the experience of others.
This blog was set up to post content of interest to Old Chatham Quaker members and attenders. Posts related to one's own personal spiritual journey, reports based on interviews with others, and reflections on Quaker-related topics are welcome. Posts by individuals are personal expressions and do not necessarily reflect those of the Meeting as a whole.
Guidelines for posting on website blog:
Submit to member of Communications committee; committee has editorial oversight over all content posted on the Meeting website.
Be respectful of the nature of vocal ministry given in Meeting for Worship or other settings and any private conversations about spiritual matters.
Cite source of any image or other external content submitted.