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The Wrong Kind of Silence We simply can’t always speak out. But there are critical times within Friends’ communities when failing to speak truth can cause great damage. Trying not to offend, trying to maintain a surface calm, can cause a disastrous loss of trust and can betray our commitment to answering the Light in everyone. Often it enables cruel behavior to continue. When problems remain unnamed, it can threaten our ability to address them. This kind of silence can undermine integrity, cause profound personal hurt, and splinter community. Much is lost when we fail to say what we think and when we fail to help each other speak up when serious interpersonal issues develop. Therefore I want to name self-silencing of truth as a significant threat to the ability of Friends to live our testimonies and a threat to the Religious Society of Friends.

On Deception (November 2013)

Calls to the Annual Sessions 2015 – Abridged Intermountain Yearly Meeting, June 7 - 14, 2015; Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, NM

On Knowing (March 2015)

The Veil, The Shadow, and the Abundant Life Excerpts from the keynote presentation to Intermountain Yearly Meeting; June 11, 2015; Ghost Ranch, Abiquiú, New Mexico

On Play (September 2015)

Fleshing Out She suffered with an anxiety disorder as well as hard-to-explain, intermittent physical symptoms that seemed confined to one side of her body. Through multiple office visits, our comfort with each other grew, and her insightfulness and willingness to engage in therapy became apparent. Careful probing about her hyper-vigilance and avoidance behaviors led to an amazing revelation – a childhood incident in which she had disobeyed her parents and had been slightly injured on one side. The physical damage was minimal, but the emotional damage had manifested all these years later as one-sided pain and a specific fear of roadways and driving.

On Flesh (November 2016)

Amor Fati Paradox defined: “Items and situations that seem mutually exclusive, yet somehow reflect upon each other, often creating a deeper, more nuanced truth, perhaps in dynamic tension, or complementing each other.” Like a Quaker serving in the military. I lived that paradox intermittently for seven years while serving in the reserves during medical school and residency. Then I lived it full-time during four years of active duty, which started when I completed my medical training in 2000. My first year of active duty seemed pretty benign, then 9/11/2001 happened, and my situation instantly became truly “military.” I faced impending deployment to “the sandbox,” the Middle East. 

On Weapons (January 2019)

That of God in Research In the September/October 2018 issue of Western Friend, “On Children,” I wrote about my experiences as a Child Protective Services (CPS) social worker. Much of what I described about investigating child abuse concerned “control.” For example, my Quaker practices of listening in silence and discernment helped me “learn the rules so you can break them properly,“ as the Dalai Lama recommends. “The rules” in this case were Washington State’s Child Protection Laws and the policies of CPS, which attempt to control the behavior of parents by enforcing norms to restrict physical discipline of children and to achieve minimum levels of care. Those enforcement structures are the stick. The carrots used to control families are the programs that CPS offers to help them, as well as the refuge in foster homes that CPS offers to children when parents fail. Unfortunately, social workers can cause harm when they fail to use judgment and discernment in applying the laws appropriately in each unique situation. As Parker Palmer so beautifully describes, one of the paradoxes of life is that both control and spontaneous creativity are necessary for human flourishing.

On Control (July 2019)

Peace through Pieces Several years ago, a co-worker gave me a little book entitled Things I Learned about God from Quilting. I laughed, and thought I could have written this book. So, here are a few of the things I’ve learned and a story or two.

On Art (March 2020)

Soul Force This summer, MC Stoll and DJ Cole dropped the first track of our new album, Soul Force Ones (SF1s). It’s not music (though an SF1s spoken-word album is in development), but it’s recorded to a sort of spiritual harmony. What does that mean?

On Relevance (March 2021)