Growing Together in the Light

A place for Friends and others to explore Quakerism. A place where, in the Light that comes from God, we may all grow and where we may hope to find a unity that underlies our diversity of language.

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Location: Arlington, Massachusetts, United States

Raised a Friend, I am currently a member of Fresh Pond Meeting in Cambridge, Mass. I am also active in Salem Quarterly Meeting and in New England Yearly Meeting.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A new beginning

Dear Friends,

I spent most of 1970 in Kenya as a student at Friends World College. I spent much of August of that year at the school's campus which, at that time, was housed in an old hotel in Kaptagat in the highlands outside of Eldoret. The road up from Nairobi crossed the Equator as it climbed out of the Rift Valley. Kaptagat was at 10,000 feet. August is the time of the long rains and the weather was cold and raw. We had fireplaces for heat in our bungalows but the firewood was pretty green and wet so keeping a fire going was always a challenge. And then one day I woke up and went outside and the sun was out and the air felt different and I knew that the rain was done.

That is how I feel now. I have been on hiatus from this blog since August. This has been a fallow time for me. A time of being low. It was not possible for me to write. I thought of it a number of times but there was no energy to do so. Even attending the FUM General Board meeting in October did not bring me to write. But today I feel a change in the internal weather. The promptings to write have come back. I expect to write about many of the things that I have in the past but there are also signs of new growth.

New England Yearly Meeting has been exploring Jubilee this year. In Levitical Law there was to be a Sabbath Year every 7 years when the land was to be left fallow. After 7 weeks of years (that is 7 times 7 years) was the year of Jubilee. In the 50'th year debts were to be forgiven, slaves freed, and land would revert to the original owner. This year New England Yearly Meeting will meet for the 350'th time. If we observed them, it would be our seventh Jubilee.

It feels like I am completing the Sabbath time, the fallow time. One of the new sprouts in me is a consideration of what does Jubilee mean. Some argue that there is no evidence that the Jubilee ever happened in Hebrew society. That is almost immaterial. It exercised a powerful influence on prophetic thought. Isaiah proclaimed the year of the Lord, the year of Jubilee. Jesus echoed that call at the beginning of his ministry. What was it that they were proclaiming? In the year of Jubilee, not only were debts forgiven but the land was returned to those how had sold it. It was a circuit breaker to prevented the excessive accumulation of wealth. Every 50 years the economic deck was redealt. It did not mean that some people would not become wealthy. It did not mean that no one would be poor. What it did mean was that the children of the rich would need to work for their own riches and that the children of the poor did not have to remain poor. Every 50 years there would be a new start. We as Quakers are a pretty privileged lot. What would the year of Jubilee look like for us? It might not look like a party, just as I don't think the wealthy Hebrews looked on giving up land and the income stream that came from it as a cause of celebration.

I will explore this more in future posts. I also look forward to seeing what other seeds my be sprouting. It feels good to return to the Quaker blogosphere.

Blessings to all,

Will T