Most people are unfamiliar with the Quaker religion, or they confuse us for the guy on the Quaker Oats box. In this video, we ask 6 Friends what it means to be a practicing Quaker.
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In this video, the Friends describe three levels of understanding and being that Quakers share. The first is willingness to listen for and be faithful to something that Friends variously call by several names—the Light, the holy spirit, presence of God, goodness, the infallible guide, or Inward Christ, for example. The second is willingness to listen—to worship—together in community with other listeners. The third level is the effect on individual’s relationships with others in the world in recognition of a fundamental spiritual equality. What are your reflections on these levels of understanding and being? What is it like to listen for the spirit? What changes when you do that with others, together? How does a recognition of our equality change how you interact with others?
A Quaker is someone who is seeking to be faithful to the deepest truth that we can encounter, to be guided to that truth by the guidance of the holy spirit, by the presence of God in our lives, and by the understanding that that’s a real experience that we can encounter.
A Quaker is someone who is willing to be still, enter a silence, and actually be penetrated by that silence.
Penn said, a Quaker is defined by one fundamental principle, and that was that God had placed within each person an infallible guide, that if followed would lead you to righteousness and salvation. Anyone who follows that guide, who attends to it and does what it leads you to, is a true child of God and, by definition, then, is a Quaker.
C. Wess Daniels:
For me, one of the things that means to be Quaker is to be together in a community of people who gather and listen together. We can have spiritual practice outside of meeting, outside of worshipping, but there’s something about coming together and listening together to God as a community that is full of life, and full of conflict and challenge, and to me, that’s what makes Quakerism beautiful.
I think there’s also some Quaker distinctives that come out of that experience of Christ alive and in the world with us, and those are things about, you know, sacraments being inward, and our experience of worship— the understanding that God is there in the worship and is with us. And so those things, I think, make someone a Quaker.
So by definition, your communication changes, because you know, if we’re all, then, therefore that of God, we’re therefore all equal, and so by definition our relationships with each other must change, and will be different.
There is a way of trusting the innocence of that power, so that one is not afraid of it—not afraid of the power—but is willing to walk intimately into that power… and be informed by it. Informed. Reformed. Transformed. And in the transformation, of being touched by God, behaviors change. Something different happens.
But it’s more than that, right, because there are many people in many traditions who are seeking to do that. So then what’s a Quaker? I think a Quaker is someone who is part of this living stream, this sense of being a people who’ve been on this journey for more than 350 years, traveling together as a community, supporting one another with these traditions and these practices that we have found. We didn’t create them; we discovered them. That help people along that journey of faithfulness, as we help each other to be set free and to grow more fully alive. And to me, that’s the Way we’re inviting people into.