In 1966, the small Quaker meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico, was bequeathed its current home, the historic house and garden of the painter Olive Rush. It is already an unlikely occurrence for a Quaker meeting to have a patron, and even more so, for the benefactor to be an artist, given Friends’ long history of disparaging the arts as frivolous and vain.
Something about the process of capturing, editing, printing, and viewing images often leads me to think beyond the subject itself, to search what other meanings might be suggested by the subject matter, the lighting, the mood, or arrangement of items in the composition.
In your Quaker meeting, you may have experienced events similar to these: a Friend doesn’t want to be on a committee with another Friend due to a past conflict; two Friends complain about a third party, whom they find to be impossible (yes, it does happen); a Friend speaks up in business meeting about a conflict that is going on, and no one responds or takes any follow-up action.
When I first got involved in Friends Meetings, I was fortunate to have a number of role models and elders to guide my first steps into this society, which was foreign to the world I had known. I felt immediately that I was a Quaker and that I had been one for years before discovering a meeting. But learning the Quaker jargon took a while.
As a hospital chaplain, I met Mrs. Corrigan in an office adjacent to her oncologist’s office. She had just been talking with him about her terminal illness and about non-curative, comfort-care plans. Mrs. Corrigan was facing the end of her life from a metastatic form of cancer. As a patient now living at home, she had previously undergone many surgeries, radiation treatments, and chemotherapy.
Earlier this year, I attended a program at Ben Lomond Quaker Center on “Quaker Revival,” led by Paul Buckley. Paul is a Quaker historian and theologian who lives in Cincinnati and is affiliated with Ohio Yearly Meeting. He translated William Penn’s Primitive Christianity Revived into modern English in 2018.
I travel to Moscow each year to participate in the annual meeting of the International Board of Friends House Moscow and visit the programs we support. I also attend Moscow Meeting for Worship. It generally draws a visitor or two plus the usual core of three-to-five regulars, including a Russian Orthodox priest who uses Quaker materials in discussion groups in his church.