The Seed in the Heart

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 Know what it is that is to walk in the path of life, and indeed is alone capable of walking therein. It is that which groans, and which mourns; that which is begotten of God in thee. The path of life is for the seed of life. The true knowledge of the way, with the walking in the way, is reserved for God’s child, for God’s traveller. Therefore keep in the regeneration, keep in the birth; be no more than God made thee. Give over thine own willing; give over thine own running; give over thine own desiring to know, or to be any thing, and sink down to the seed which God sows in the heart; and let that grow in thee, and be in thee, and breathe in thee, and act in thee, and thou shalt find by sweet experience, that the Lord knows that, and loves and owns that, and will lead it to the inheritance of life, which is his portion. And as thou takest up the cross to thyself, and sufferest that to overspread and become a yoke over thee, thou shalt become renewed, and enjoy life, and everlasting inheritance in that.

This passage is taken from Some Directions to the Panting Soul by Isaac Penington (1617-1679). Considering the fame of part of the quotation it is surprising how few Friends have read the piece it comes from.

‘Directions’ is a short but beautiful,  profound and instructive piece which  lays out the foundation of Quaker spirituality, surrender to God. It contains simple guidance on what this is and how to do it. 

The gospel state is a state of substance, a state of enjoying the life, a state of feeling the presence and power of the Lord in his pure, holy Spirit, a state of binding-up, a state of healing, a state of knowing the Lord, and walking with him in the light of his own Spirit. It begins in a sweet, powerful touch of life, and there is a growth in the life (in the power, in the divine virtue, in the rest, peace, and satisfaction of the soul in God) to be administered and waited for daily.

 

 

The Spirit in the Search Engine

Today I was searching for something online and the first thing which Google came up was this Blog. I had completely forgotten that I had ever even set it up. I have not it seems written anything here for two years.

I have recently been wondering whether to add any words to the Quaker Blogosphere and been tremendously hesitant. I do not want to throw in more opinions and my own empty notions. But at the same time it is possible, that it could be a form of spoken ministry, a Spirit led enterprise (as I am sure it is for others). I know that is a long shot, especially coming from someone like myself who has an opinion about everything.

Could today’s serendipity be a nudge to maybe take up writing again?

Could a Blog be a place where others find not opinions (or at least not too many) but some solace and inspiration?

Am I being led to write again?

Am I willing to keep my mouth shut and my laptop firmly closed unless I am truly prompted to write?

Could blogging be a form of ministry?

I have no idea and having recognised my lack I can no longer hold the Spirit at bay.

I have nothing to say, nothing to share, no particular opinions on any matters, Quaker or otherwise, which I want to write about here. Others can write about Quaker ‘issues’ with much greater skill and knowledge than myself.

I would rather forget this whole thing. But there is something niggling.

Way will open or not and I am content with either.

Let’s see where this goes, if anywhere.

The Point of Impasse

The land that was desolate and impassable shall be glad, and the wilderness shall rejoice, and shall flourish like the lily. (Isaiah 35.1)

Reaching a point of impasse can be excruciatingly painful. It is , at least in part, the pain which accompanies exhausting our human resources. It is a time when nothing is working….when the possibility of superficial consensus falls away and the door to a way forward seems firmly shut in our face.

This seems so unfair and frustrating when we are seeking and searching in good faith with all the inner and outer resources we have at our disposal.

We may come to see ourselves in a light which is hardly flattering and others appear as obstacles who stand in our way rather than trusted companions . We may come to a place of real despair where we want to retreat to an easier past or blast through all barriers to relieve the intolerable tension of delay.

Impasse is excruciating because it is the cross of our own plans, agendas and solutions. It is the hard bare place where we wait on some new thing we have not imagined, over which we have no control. (Patricia Loring).

Yet impasse is not stasis but a potential point of transition from human to divine creativity, a stopping point in a longer journey. It is the place where our love for each other is tested and found to be stronger than formerly realised in the years when things went so smoothly. Here we can come to recognise that the resources of the Spirit are inexhaustible and guidance is ever available. This is not just wishful thinking for in the history of Friends it has been proven again and again to be a spiritual fact. As we wait in the Light with our friends we become tender, more compassionate and a new trust in the Spirit and each other emerges. When way does open (and it definitely will) we have been changed, maybe subtly, but changed nevertheless.

The guidance and empowerment may not come in specific meetings (though they have their place) but in the larger context of our life together, in Worship, in social gatherings, in surprising intuitions and events which arrive out of the blue.

When conflict comes, as it does, and the temptation to compromise – to seek consensus – is resisted, the sense of divine guidance is unmistakably registered. New possibilities for a way forward which nobody has thought of emerge out of discussion. Postponement and delay settle minds and assist the process of coming to a united mind. Above all, those who take opposing views come to find that the discipline of waiting has mysteriously united them.(John Punshon)

Blogging Hopefully

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Recently I have contributed a to a number of threads arising from various Christian Blogs spread around the Internet. Most of them relate to issues around sexuality, particularly same gendered relationships and the massively thorny discussions  of same sex marriage, most of them in USA where the religious climate is rather different from here. ( It is rather nice to think that we LGBTQ folk are so significant that religious people can’t resist discussing us with such passion).

I have come to wonder whether it is worth bothering writing anything public online? Not because positions are often so entrenched and everyone gets huffy and downright angry  (including me). Sure the contributors might play nicely at least on the surface but where same sex issues are concerned I have rarely come across what might be described as an  edifiying read. I generally don’t come away feeling inspired or enriched but diminished. I am still hoping to find more places where things could be different, where real Love prevails, where judgement is no more and the Lion and the Lamb lie down in peace together at last.

So it is with the act of blogging. I mean, what is the point? Or at least what is the point for me? I doubt that many (any?) people will read this Blog. But what about the ones who do? Arriving here from a life which is probably, like most human lives, rather complicated, fretful and downright painful at times, what do I want them to find? What do I want them to go away with?

So for those who may have wandered into this small corner of the Blogosphere I want you you to go away feeling refreshed, feeling hopeful, inspired. To leave with at least some intimation that everyone, including you, is ‘unique, precious, a child of God.’

I cannot convince  anyone by argument or intellectual discourse that they are of infinite value, loved to heights and depths which exceed all human imagination but maybe something here  might sow the odd mustard seed of hope here and there occasionally.