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Teachable Moment Dear Friends: David Zarembka’s concerns about the September/October 2018 cover of Western Friend were eye-openers for me. I appreciate the “teachable moment” his thoughts provided, through his letter to the editor in the November/December issue. I now have a better understanding of another hidden bias to be mindful of as we move forward.

On Weapons (January 2019)

Focus and Immersion in Present Experience 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. Guidance from the Holy is clearer in these times of presence.

On Play (September 2015)

Mindfulness and Quaker Worship In meeting for worship, we center down, listen to vocal ministry, discern authentic vocal ministry, and hold people in the Light. The practice of mindfulness helps me with all of these. Also, if it weren’t for my mindfulness practice, I probably would have had to abandon Quakerism decades ago.

On Flesh (November 2016)

On Art I love to quote Frank Zappa on this, “Your life is a ribbon of time that you get to decorate.” Early Friends were rightly wary of decoration. They dissented from “high church” practices of pomp and circumstance, oratory and argumentation, frankincense and anointing oils. They were rightly wary of self-proclaimed prophets, state-funded theocrats, and peddlers of political revolutions and snake oil. In probably the first written expression of Quaker faith and practice, the Elders at Balby advised, “[As] any are moved of the Lord to speak the Word of the Lord . . . [it should] be done in faithfulness, without adding or diminishing.” (1656) Then just a few decades later, London Yearly Meeting extended this idea further and gave their “tender and Christian advice that Friends take care to keep to truth and plainness, in language, habit, deportment and behavior . . . and to avoid . . . all vain and superfluous fashions of the world.” (1691)

On Art (March 2020)

Work Not in Vain Lloyd Lee Wilson’s words to Pacific Yearly Meeting, July 14, 2015; Walker Creek Ranch, Petaluma, California; as reported by Western Friend

On Play (September 2015)

Self-Compassion and Quakers Like many others, I was drawn to the Religious Society of Friends by its compassionate work with people in need. As an undergraduate in the 1960s, I witnessed that compassion first-hand by participating in several AFSC projects, including visiting mental-hospital patients in the Bay Area and working with disadvantaged children during Freedom Summer in Memphis, Tennessee. Those experiences inspired my later career as a child psychologist. Yet almost from the beginning, I have found it difficult to live up to Friends’ idealism; and over the years, I have grown to perceive among Friends a hidden, unmet need – for self-compassion.

On Mixture (November 2018)

Next Year in Bunnytown A couple years ago, I took my white family to see the Langston Hughes production Black Nativity in a small church in a historically Black neighborhood in Portland. The pews were packed, and the performance space overflowed into the audience. We were specifically invited to sing and stand and move as we felt led. When, in the telling of Jesus’ birth, the lovingly wrapped black plastic baby doll was carried down the aisle, my four- and six-year-old kids whispered to me in awe “Hey, we know that guy!”

On Vision (January 2021)