The International Friends School (IFS) has a guiding spirit. This spirt teaches us, ultimately, that consistent renewals of joyfulness and love provide the sturdiest framework for everything we will experience in life. The smallest acts of love and joy – pulling beets, helping someone after a bike scrape, hanging towels to dry in the sun with a friend – are meaningful.
In her autobiography, Life on Two Levels (1978), Quaker dynamo Josephine Duveneck tells of a year when she provided a foster home in Los Altos Hills, CA, to a seven-year-old Jewish boy from Germany, while Hitler was rising to power in Europe. “What a sweet little personality he was . . .
In the Puritan and Calvinist cultures prevalent in 17th century Britain and America, children were believed to be born corrupted by “original sin”. Quakers rejected this doctrine, and Robert Barclay called it “an invented and unscriptural barbarism”. . .
Last summer I sat in circle of Friends at the annual retreat of the Quaker Religious Education Collaborative (QREC) and felt profoundly that I had come home to my people. It is gratifying to be with Friends who, like me, want to dedicate their time and energy to the religious education of our youngest Friends, starting from infancy.
Quakerism is a spiritual journey. It is a search for understanding. It is a search to find The Way. This search expands into our parenting. Parenting is a search for understanding of how to live with and guide our children.
Our search is based on the belief that there is a Way and that the Way will open. For parents, this means there is a Way even with the most obstreperous child.