Editors note: The post appearing below is an excerpt from a presentation given at the Intermountain Yearly meeting in June of 2001. To download the full presentation use the link to the Word document below – MPA
I want to share with you a few ways in which early Friends have helped me articulate my own experience. This can be summarized by saying that when you stand still in the Light of Truth the bands of anger, page pride, envy and the need to control others, loosen and break. In my case, I can say that the hard shell of fear around my heart was broken so that new life could grow in me.
As we become more transparent to the Light, we become more tender, gentle and forgiving towards those around us and are less apt to break others’ hearts and hurt one another. I encourage you to listen tenderly with your inward ear to my words.
Words are so full of meanings which are dependent on their context, the speaker and the hearer. Sometimes I am amazed that we can communicate with each other at all. In our Meetings, when we attempt to speak about the Holy One and our spiritual lives, the process becomes even more complicated. I get uncomfortable when someone addresses God as “He” or “Ruler” or “Lord.” But neither am I easy about speaking of the “Goddess” – in fact I tend to either use “You” or “Thou” or alternate between “He” and “She.” Other people I know object to using the word “God” at all.
In our Meetings, we may find individuals who look to Judaism, Buddhism, or the Christian Testament for their inspiration. Others see themselves as Wiccans or Universalists.
I could go on and on about the variety of ways individual Friends know and describe the center of their faith and the ways we can upset one another by speaking about our faith.
It is true that what we encounter in Meeting for Worship is beyond all words. Yet words are essential to our human communities. We all know how words can shut down communication as well as open up rich connections. Words can point to possibilities or they can harm others. All too often we do not know how words truly affect the people we are speaking to.