So the fabric of Quakerism has frayed some more. Geoffrey Kaiser's chart of the Quaker Yearly Meetings and their schisms needs another update. What grieves me is that we all know that there is another way. We know how to foster reconciliation and peace in the world. But for whatever reasons we are not willing or able to apply that knowledge to ourselves. Cat Chapin-Bishop has a wonderful account of the gay and lesbian Equality Riders to George Fox University. It is seemed a wonderful counter-example to the divisiveness I have seen so much of among Friends lately.
Ben Richmond, in the weekly FUM Devotional and Prayer request mailing, precedes the announcement of this with the following quote from Thomas Kelley:
There is a fellowship among those who have been baptized, deep under the rolling waters of God's love, a fellowship too rich and precious to be described adequately. May I use two German words whose content and meaning are richer and thicker than our over-worked word "Fellowship": Gemeinshaft and Verbundenheit. Among the early Apostles there was a Gemeinshaft, nay, deeper, there was a Verbundenheit, a condition of being knit together.... They knew and loved one another because they all knew they had found the same life-center. They had all gone deep into God, or God had gone down deep into them. In companionship with Jesus they had found His life-center and that center was in God....
It was a tragic day when the fellowship of the early church groups faded out into church membership. And it was a tragic day when the fellowship of the early Children of Light gave way to membership in a Society of Friends. From Fellowship to Membership is to cross a great and tragic divide. Now, when you meet a member of the Society of Friends, you don't know whether you can find fellowship ... at the deepest level within the Life-center in the Divine Seed, or whether you can only pass the time of day....
Oh, how one craves this fellowship! I have hungered for it so desperately in recent times.
Thomas Kelly, 1938
"Hasten Unto God" in The Eternal Promise
Friends United Press, reprint 2006.
I don't know that I have anything more to say other than to pray that God be with us all, to heal us and strengthen us, and to give us insight and clarity to see our way forward. To give us all humility so that we may hear to the hearts of others, especially the ones we disagree with. To strengthen the spirit of love and forbearance among us. And to forgive us when we fall short. Amen.