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Friends for Racial Equity I had struggled before over whether to speak during worship, but this was different. It was near the close of worship, and a long-time member was sharing a folk tale from childhood. The story clearly moved him, and I can only imagine it was intended as a gift, a tender ministry for all of us in worship. But it was not a gift, at least not of the kind intended. The tale was of an enduring struggle between two iconic opposing figures – one evil, one good. On another morning, I might have let such a story drift in and out of my awareness, a familiar premise with no hint of a surprise ending. Instead, as I listened, I felt my body stiffen; [pullquote]I was paralyzed and mortified. Here it was, in a folk tale, in worship: racist ministry.[/pullquote]

On Cliques (September 2021)

Quakers Do What! Why? (review) I am convinced again, Friends! Credit goes to Quakers Do What! Why?, a 72-page booklet from Quaker Quicks, written by Rhiannon Grant. In it, she takes the reader through a wide range of beliefs and practices of unprogrammed Quakers, using a friendly, conversational style. For example, the first chapter is titled: “Wait – Quakers still exist?” This book is great for people interested in exploring what it means to be Quaker as well as being full of great reminders for seasoned Friends. 

On Words (November 2021)

The Ground from which Miracles Spring I didn’t want to join the committee. As a “released Friend,” my role is to follow the leadings of my music ministry out in the world, freed from responsibility for the business of Multnomah Monthly Meeting. But I have found myself reckoning lately with a firehose of Spirit blasting a message through me that has nothing to do with songs or cello. In September 2021, this message came out in an epistle, which was published October 30 in Western Friend’s weekly email newsletter. This epistle, “Returning to the Body,” arose from my experience serving on Multnomah’s ad-hoc committee concerned with the question of how to worship in this age of pandemic. [See: https://westernfriend.org/returning-body]

On Freedom (January 2022)

Alternative Realities I met Rachel Heisham Bieri in Missoula, Montana, four months after she had been given a terminal cancer diagnosis. She was forty-five then, only fifteen years older than I was, though she was already a grandmother. Doctors had given her two months to live.

On Alternatives (March 2022)

Hybrid and/or Embodied Worship (5) [This letter was abridged from a longer original, which you can find at: https://westernfriend.org/letters-marchapril-2022]

On Alternatives (March 2022)

Loving Earth Project Last spring, Cynthia Black from Eugene Friends Meeting published an article in Extra! Extra! – Western Friend’s email newsletter – which described a project being organized by British Friends at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham, England. Called “The Loving Earth Project,” it invited Friends to reflect on persons or places they love that are endangered by climate breakdown and then express their love and concern by creating 12” x 12” fabric art panels. Friends from around the world have responded to this call, and the Loving Earth exhibit has grown to include over four hundred panels. This is the story of how the project has inspired Friends in the Sacramento Friends Meeting and how you can help to bring an exhibition of Loving Earth panels to the US in 2023.

On Place (May 2022)

It’s OK to Talk about Quakerism Sometimes we are reluctant to talk about our Quakerism with friends, neighbors, and co-workers. In my (so far unpublished) research on expressing Quaker spirituality in the workplace, I interviewed one person who said that when a co-worker found out he was a Quaker, he was stunned. “I worked next to you for five years and had no idea you were a Quaker.”

On Normality (July 2022)

God’s Loving Eyes We are seen by God’s loving eyes.  The greatest spiritual battle begins – and never ends – with the reclaiming of our chosenness. Long before any human being saw us, we are seen by God’s loving eyes. Long before anyone heard us cry or laugh, we are heard by our God who is all ears for us. Long before any person spoke to us in this world, we are spoken to by the voice of eternal love.                         – Henri Nouwen (1993)

On Cooperation (September 2022)

To Form a Faithful Community On February 24 this year, Russia invaded Ukraine. For now, I ask you to set aside all history and politics. I ask you to step back with me to that moment when I realized in terror that terror had just filled a country I had visited many times, where I had friends, where there was a Quaker meeting and facilitators for the Alternatives to Violence Project. The invasion couldn’t be happening . . . but it was.

On Cooperation (September 2022)