Metamorphosis – July 2012

Metamorphosis: Newsletter for Bellingham Friends Meeting

Weekly Meetings for Worship are on Sunday @ 10-11 am.  Childcare is provided.
Monthly Meetings for Worship with Attention to Business are on the 2nd Sunday.
1601 Ellis Street in Bellingham, WA 98225               Phone:  (360) 734-0244

Metamorphosis is a monthly newsletter.  If you would like some particular information placed in the Metamorphosis, please send it via email to the newsletter editor Betty McMahon:  (If you do not have email:  (360) 734-0244.)

July’s Query:

#7. from Advices & Queries from The Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain.

            Be aware of the spirit of God at work in the ordinary activities and experience of your daily life. Spiritual learning continues throughout life, and often in unexpected ways. There is inspiration to be found all around us, in the natural world, in the sciences and arts, in our work and friendships, in our sorrows as well as in our joys.  Are you open to new light, from whatever source it may come?  Do you approach new ideas with discernment?



July 15 (Sunday 2nd Hour):  Walking Meditation along the Whatcom Creek Trail to Heritage Park.

July 22 (Sunday):  Judy and Lorina report on Pacific Northwest Quaker Women’s Theology

July 29 (Intergenerational Sunday):  Do you know more than a Quaker Child?  We’ll model and discuss typical classes and challenges.  There will be goodies!

August 05  (Sunday):  Annual picnic, with Meeting for Worship, at Fairhaven Park Pavilion, 9:30 – 12:30 pm.

From Our Social and Environmental Committee:

CONCERN OF THE MONTH:  As a follow-up to the discussion two weeks ago with Naseem Rakha about her book The Crying Tree, we chose the Washington Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Last month $144 was donated to Compassion and Choices in memory of Annelise Pysanky.

ECO-SUGGESTION OF THE MONTH:  When buying plants for your yard, consult local nurseries about native plants that do not need watering.

SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER:  Continuing with FCNL’s suggestions regarding the federal budget – to reduce energy consumption in the U.S., to provide solar energy for two million homes, and retrofit half a million for energy efficiency would cost $50 billion over the next five years.  More than $60 billion can be found over that period by ending subsidies to oil and gas industries.  FCNL also encourages Friends to continue to insist on reducing Pentagon spending.

Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta from Vancouver, B.C. Friends Meeting, who has lived for 20 years in Israel and has both Israeli and Palestinian friends, has written a book – Refusing to be Enemies.  Will Meeting co-sponsor her talk here November 14, 2012 and contribute to travel expenses for her if donations at the door do not cover them? Doris is willing to order maybe 10 books to have for sale.
The Committee meets next on July 26, 2012, 7:00 pm at Doris’.

An Introduction to Quaker Testimonies, by American Friends Service Committee

Peace – (continued from last month)

“Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone.”…HAFSAT ABIOLA, NIGERIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST

“Peace, in the sense of the absence of war, is of little value to someone who is dying of hunger or cold.  Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free.”…TENZIN GYATSO, 14TH  DALAI LAMA

“Peace is not the product of terror or fear.  A peace is not the silence of cemeteries.  Peace is not the silent result of violent repression.  Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all.”…OSCAR ROMERO, CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

To be continued…


         Epistle of the 2012 Pacific Northwest Quaker Women’s Theology Conference

                                    June 13-17, 2012                     Corbett, Oregon


Greetings to Friends everywhere.

Grace permeated our days and wove the variegated fibers of our lives together into a tapestry of light and love much like the quilts that surrounded us in our meeting space at the 2012 Pacific Northwest Quaker Women’s Theology Conference.  We gathered on June 13, 2012, at the Menucha Conference Center above the Columbia River near Corbett, Oregon. Our theme was Inviting, Contemplating, and Enacting Grace.  Prior to the conference, each participant wrote a short essay in response to the theme.  The conversation among us began as we read each other’s papers online and throughout our time together.  We came with differing experiences among Friends and other faith traditions, some excited, others tentative about what we would hear, and feel, and do together.  We came yearning for community, a place to feel at home.  We came knowing we would be challenged to listen deeply, to learn to open and stretch.  We were hoping the effort would yield deeper understanding and add new patterns and textures to our tapestry of grace as we were woven together.


Thursday morning we received a message from Ashley Wilcox on Inviting Grace.  Ashley opened with her admission of love for the Apostle Paul. Drawing from Acts Nine, she showed us that sometimes we invite grace through doing the completely wrong thing.  We can also invite grace into our lives by accepting and giving loving acts and living words. Darla Samuelson taught us how to use specific disciplines to create a space for grace to touch the pain of shame that is common in human experience.


Friday morning Cherice Bock led us through a contemplation of grace through a word study.  She asked the provocative question, “Do we have to feel guilty to receive grace?”  In answer to her own question, she proposed that grace is an undeserved gift with no strings attached.  Cherice concluded that grace is active, social, and enduring.  As stewards of grace, when we extend grace to others we receive grace into our own lives and are further called to extend grace in this world.  Christine Hall continued by saying that in contemplating grace we are swept up in a love that connects us to God, one another, creation, and divine mystery.  She finished with a quote from Thomas Merton stating that through contemplation we “see through the illusion of our separateness.”


Saturday, responding to the theme Enacting Grace, Carol Urner challenged us to say “yes” to leadings, even when we do not know where our “yes” will lead us.   In that “yes” there is a river of light that will flow through us and sustain us.  Elenita Bales followed and reminded us that that the word “enact” contains “act.”  She encouraged us to develop a rhythm of faithfulness in speaking the truths that emerge from our souls, and to risk vulnerability that we may become a channel of change.  Quoting historic Quaker Ann Wilson, Elenita asked, “What wilt thou do in the end?”

Afternoon workshops presented a variety of ways we can nourish our lives and create an opening for grace.  In Writing as Spiritual Practice, we explored several ways to begin and be faithful to our own spiritual writing.  A workshop on the Bible revealed that in spite of feelings about Scripture, ranging from anger through love, the group had an interesting and respectful discussion.  In a session entitled Speaking Holy Boldness, participants considered viewpoints and experiences that made clear that prophetic witness is alive and well in our yearly meetings.  Another group shared the different practices, such as movement, meditation, prayer, and visualization they use to hold others in the Light.  In a session entitled The Hard Stuff, women from different yearly meetings responded to questions that had been submitted in writing earlier.  Participants engaged in respectful discussion that acknowledged our differences while encouraging understanding and acceptance.  One workshop focused on listening and care committees and offered guidelines and tools on how to support others through suffering.  Judy Maurer shared her experiences and reflections on teaching, listening, worshiping, and working on social justice issues in Russia.  Christine Hall introduced Way of the Spirit, an opportunity to engage in contemplative study through a new program in the Pacific Northwest.

Evening activities provided opportunities to further be woven together in our tapestry of community.  Thursday evening, Roena Oesting, dressed and speaking as Elizabeth Fry, recounted major events from “Betsy’s” life as written in her journals.  We expressed gratitude for the way Elizabeth Fry’s work in prisons started a pattern of prison reform work among Friends that continues today.  On Early Friday evening, we listened to the experiences of those who attended the FWCC Sixth World Conference of Friends in Kenya. Their exchanges were fruitful, rich and full, though sometimes difficult.  As we heard their stories we could sense that there, too, they were held by grace.  Later, we danced, sang, played Hearts fiercely, worked on a HUGE puzzle, and created art.  All these allowed for new openings into one another’s hearts and connections through joyful exchanges.

Throughout the conference threads of conversations at meals, home groups, over the puzzle, or on hikes further wove us together in beauty and grace. It was an amazing gift to sit at a meal and turn to a stranger and feel no awkwardness . On Sunday morning we were gathered together for a final hour of worship in which Nancy Thomas brought us the challenge to carry gratitude with us in response to God’s grace.  We came here to be ourselves and left affirmed in our appreciation for and joy in the deepening cross-yearly meeting friendship; that is grace.  Borrowing a sentiment from Carol Urner, we have to finish, but we have not yet begun.

(There will be a second hour on this conference on Sunday July 22, 2012.)

Naseem Rakha’s The Crying Tree

Sometimes the best way to explore real life, to get down below the surface of people’s lives and into their hearts, is through fiction.  On Sunday, June 24th,  Bellingham Friends enjoyed an opportunity during second hour to share this experience with Naseem Rakha, award-winning journalist and author of the novel, The Crying Tree, which centers on a murder case and on the circle of people affected by the murder and the pending state-sponsored execution of the man convicted of the crime.  In a page-turning, heart-opening, and beautifully wrought story, Rakha explores themes of family secrets, redemption, and forgiveness.

Many in meeting had read the novel and some had even shared a soup supper to talk about it prior to meeting.  Naseem shared that her motivation to write the book came when she covered, as a journalist for NPR, an Oregon execution. Throughout our time with her she talked about her work, writing, and research, and about how her work on The Crying Tree continues to ripple through her life.  She entertained numerous questions and guided

a thoughtful discussion.  Our time together was rich and engaging, a true gift from a generous, gracious soul.

Photos of Naseem and the book jacket can be downloaded here:

Naseem Rakha