When springtime in Seattle finally comes out from under its winter blanket of fog and drizzle, its smile is bright and its mood is balmy. That’s the kind of day it is – a Sunday in May, shortly after Easter – when Fred comes out of church and finds himself striding down the hill.
Imagine the Dalai Lama comes to your part of the world and decides to visit your Meeting for Worship. This may be his first visit to an unprogrammed Friend’s meeting. After worship, during fellowship, he approaches you.
The Dali Lama asks: “Tell me about Quakers. What makes you unique?”
You respond: “We believe there is that of God in everyone.”
I straddle two worlds. My scientific family and studies have given me a close-up view of the scientific endeavor. Its work, driven by curiosity and belief in logical methods, and conducted with an obedience to truthfulness, have inspired me to incorporate science ideas and images into my art since 1967. My other world is that of a practicing Quaker.
There is an instant when the truth of your soul sears through your every fiber and the indescribable is revealed. It is the fierce light that splits you whole and reveals the poet Rilke’s words, “You must change your life.” It is an opportunity to bring one’s life into alignment, but there is sheer, holy terror that accompanies this process.
In accounting, we perform reconciliations between two representations of the same thing. For instance, the cash on our books and the cash in our account as the bank reports it. We expect to find differences, and our task is identify them, determine what action, if any, we need to take on our books, and occasionally tell the bank what they have missed.
We’re tolerant of behavior by a two-year-old that would disturb us greatly if it were displayed by an adult. The behavior of the two-year-old is something we’d normally accept as natural to the condition of a two-year-old. The same behavior in an adult would challenge us to reconcile our ideas about what is natural in adult behavior with the disruptive behavior we see before us.
Looking out across the dance floor at the audience seated on aluminum bleachers and standing along the prison gymnasium walls, the incongruity was glaringly obvious. Me, with my Irish complexion, taking the microphone to make a statement to scores of Native Americans during their powwow. I could not even guess how many different tribal backgrounds were present.