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.
A friend of mine bicycled 2,700 miles this summer along the Continental Divide. In an article she wrote for the Fairbanks Daily News Miner (8/12/2018), she said, “When doing endurance races, I have a question I ask myself when I want to quit: ‘Am I in danger or just uncomfortable?’ If I’m just uncomfortable, I tell myself to keep going. Things will get better.
Presence is something I cannot fully describe or understand, informing my life and experience even though it is beyond words. It is a grounding, a solace, a push and shove, a challenge to the status quo. My call to dwell in Presence makes me one of the “peculiar people” and may set me apart even from others who call themselves Quaker.
Over the last few years, I have been clarifying a spiritual practice that has been a part of my life for some time, but which I have only recently been able to articulate. My time as clerk of my monthly meeting these last couple of years has helped me to understand it as a necessary part of what I do to keep myself spiritually balanced and present.
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.