As an economist, I study and teach about money, markets, and the economy. Given that I have been on this professional journey for nearly half a century, something makes me feel that I should have it all pretty much figured out by now. But I don’t. In some ways, I know less now than I once did. Perhaps this is good.
The double doors open to the sun-dappled yard and a breeze stirs the smaller pieces atop the huge mound of fabric scraps. Four young people bend over their white cotton panels, carefully applying colorful shapes of fabric to their designs. A camp counselor at the sewing machine attaches completed panels to the large curtain quilt.
The constructive, healing, and expressive qualities of play can be experienced through artistic ventures. This is one principle behind the Quakers in the Arts program offered for the past five years at the annual gathering of Intermountain Yearly Meeting (IMYM) at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico.
Play is one of the most lauded – yet undervalued – parts of our lives. In the work I do with artists and creative professionals, I help each person develop or revive a practice of regular play. I have seen these practices transform people’s relationships, increase their incomes, and improve their abilities to give their gifts to the world while staying healthy and grounded.
Waiting for sunrise on a desert morning this March, my focus came to the inward Truth only. I had walked in darkness with a quiet dog to a saddle between two hills in the middle of the Mojave Desert Preserve. In wild lands, especially in dry lands, I find less cumber between God and me. I can feel a presence in my middle. With Light arriving, I reflect on my feelings and what I’m led to do.
The majority of liberal Friends in the West share similar traits: First, very few of us grew up among Quakers; we arrived as adults, often fleeing dogmas or religious paths that we now reject. Second, many of us feel a sense of “homecoming” in Friendly traditions like our Peace Testimony, silent expectant worship, and the general spirit of tolerance in our meetings.
Now that bitterness and hard-heartedness were no longer a very real threat, I no longer needed to be bicycling, particularly in the heat and humidity of late June in North Carolina. I still needed to get on to Savanna, George, but I had no need of a bicycle any more. Nor did I need all the bicycle stuff: tools, helmet, panniers, etc. I thought I’d just leave it all on the steps of a church.