Metamorphosis – August 2014

Bellingham Friends worship at 10 a.m., Sundays at Explorations Academy
1701 Ellis Street (Creekside Building) Bellingham, WA 98225
P.O. Box 30144, Bellingham 98228

Advices and Queries

From The Little Red Book, #15 revised to read, “Do you take part as often as you can in Meeting for Worship for Business? Do you consider difficult questions with an informed mind as well as a generous and loving spirit? Are you prepared to let your insights and personal wishes take their place alongside those of others or be set aside as the meeting seeks the right way forward? If you cannot attend, do you uphold the Meeting prayerfully?”



August 03 Picnic/Potluck/Welcome to new members

August 10 Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business

August 12 Book group meets at 7pm at Joanne Cowan & Larry Thompson’s.

August 13 Mid-week worship at the home of Mary Ann Percy, 7 pm.

August 14 Spirit Group meets at 7 pm at the home of Larry and Joanne.

August 17 Mark Hersh – Reporting on his experiences as FGC sponsored                                        attender. Don Goldstein will also be available to share his experience.

August 24 Worship sharing on listening to theological language from the heart

August 27 Mid-week worship at the home of Mary Ann Percy, 7 pm.

August 31 Virginia Herrick will report and discuss her experience at NPYM Annual                                              Session: Why have fewer Friends elsewhere in the NPYM area been                             attending the past few years? Why should more Bellingham Friends go?                        What is Yearly Meeting for? (Friendly Lunches, originally planned for this                           Sunday, has been postponed until October 5, in place of potluck Sunday.)

September 07 – Potluck

September 14 – Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business

September 21 – Open

September 28 – Quarterly Meeting (no second hour)


Other Events:

Musical Theatre Benefit for Interfaith Coalition

On September 25, 2014, an evening of musical entertainment will raise funds to support Interfaith Coalition’s programs. Fundraisers, such as this one, will assist some of the most vulnerable individuals and families in our community.

You’ll enjoy an evening of theater, music, and fellowship when you attend Bellingham Theatre Guild’s special performance of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. An award-winning musical for all ages, this delightful production tells the story of an average day in the life of the famous comic strip hero, Charlie Brown, and how all the Peanuts gang come to realize what makes them truly happy.

Tickets are on sale, now for $30 each. The price includes a reception with wine and hors d’oeuvres, beginning at 6:30 p.m., the 7:30 p.m. performance, and dessert during intermission. To purchase tickets, call Interfaith Coalition at 734-3983. The proceeds will be used to provide healthcare and homes for for those in need of them.

Bellingham Friends Retreat

This event will occur on November 1, 2014 at the Center for Spiritual Living, on Yew Street. There will be more information as the event gets closer.


What is Quaker Earthcare Witness?

Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW) was founded in 1987. It grew out of a six-day workshop during a Quaker conference in Ohio. At that time, and for the first fifteen years, it was known as Friends’ Committee on Unity With Nature. It is a not for profit organization and is based in Burlington, Vermont.

QEW is a network of Friends, and other like-minded people, who seek to address the ecological and social crises of the world from a spiritual perspective, emphasizing Quaker process and testimonies. They seek to understand what it would mean to live in “right relationship” with Earth and nature and to act wherever they can to advance this cause. From the beginning, there have been participants from many different regions of the United States and Canada.

QEW’s vision is that we are called to live in right relationship with all Creation, recognizing that the entire world is interconnected and is a manifestation of God. We work to integrate into the beliefs and practices of the Religious Society of Friends the following truths: God’s Creation is to be respected, protected, and held in reverence in its own right, and human aspirations for peace and justice depend upon restoring the earth’s ecological integrity. We promote these truths by being patterns and examples, by communicating our message, and by providing spiritual and material support to those engaged in the compelling task of transforming our relationship to the earth.

While QEW supports reforms in laws, technology, education, and institutions, its fundamental purpose is to facilitate the transformation of human attitudes and values that underlie much of the environmental destruction going on in the world today. It seeks to do this at international, national and local levels.

Quaker Earthcare Witness works at the UN in New York with QUNO (the Quaker UN office), AFSC (American Friends Service Committee), CFSC (Canadian Friends Service Committee), FWCC (Quakers’ global body) and FCNL (Friends Council for National Legislation). A key issue is identifying and monitoring sustainable development goals, analogous to the UN’s millennium development goals. QEW is trying to raise awareness of the urgency of climate change.

Some members are working on how to handle the potential of synthetic biology in an equitable and sustainable way. Others are concerned with mining matters such as fracking and population/food issues. There are a myriad of other examples. Members all aspire to lead their own lives in “right relationship” and to work out what this means for their individual lives. Then their lives will speak to others they encounter.

For many members, the value of the network lies in the difference it makes between feeling overwhelmed by today’s environmental challenges and being a part of a growing community working for positive change. The network gives them greater strength to speak out and to act in whatever circumstances.

QEW differs from other organizations that come from a purely environmental standpoint in that it sees the current global crisis of ecological sustainability in spiritual terms. QEW’s actions are rooted in the belief that human aspirations for peace and justice depend on restoring Earth’s ecological integrity and living in right relationship with all of creation. By applying Friends’ ways and testimonies to discern what all this means, right action can be brought to today’s environmental concerns.

QEW has an annual program of events and conferences. These include support for Young Adult Friends, an Earth Center at Friends General Conference, two Steering Committee meetings, and a gathering each October. QEW also gives small grants to support Meetings and communities with start-up funds for greening projects.

QEW has several publications. A bimonthly journal, BeFriending Creation, contains accounts of the many diverse things that Friends are doing and saying. There is a bi-monthly e-newsletter, QEW Resources for Earthcare Action, which disseminates resources for people to use as they see fit together with information about events. QEW also offers many pamphlets available in print and online, as well as several booklets.

There is a complementary relationship between QEW and the Quaker Institute for the Future (QIF). The aim of QIF is to undertake and publish high quality research about related topics, providing an evidence base that can inform the activism of QEW and other like-minded organizations.


Quaker Culture: Standing to Speak Inspired by Diana Forsythe, 1997

Whether in meetings for worship or business, Friends stand when they offer messages. This is not the case in very small meetings or committee meetings. When a message is being given, other Friends do not rise or walk into or out out of the meeting room. To do so can interrupt the sometimes uncertain train of thought of the speaker. It also distracts others, who may need to concentrate to receive and understand the ministry being offered. If one happens to enter the meeting room just as a Friend is rising to speak, it is best to find the first empty seat by the door or to stand motionless against the wall until the speaker sits down.


Quakers, Sport, and Being in the Zone by Joy Conrad-Rice

It is surprising to me that so few Friends do sports. For me, doing a sport and going to Quaker meeting are of the same intention and compulsion. If I don’t do something physical for a few days, my body hurts. If I don’t center regularly into meditation, either in a group or by myself, I feel out of sorts. For me, Quaker meeting and sports are both essential parts of an authentic life.

Just as many Friends say, “There is that of God in everyone,” many athletes find something holy in their sport of choice. In the extreme, they make their sport their religion.

My goal has always been to integrate sport and spirit within the context of the Religious Society of Friends. On a personal level, this has not been difficult. Where I get confused is in considering why there are virtually no references to sport within Quaker culture. It’s as though anything that includes a competitive component is anathema to Friends.

I know of Friends who enjoy running as a sport and find spirit within that experieince. They might sign up for a race and try to improve on their personal best time. However, they seem reluctant to admit that they might also be trying to “beat” the runners ahead of them. It’s my perception that friends shy away from participating in vigorous sport and especially from competitive sport. It’s my belief that the stereotype of a cooperative Friend should not preclude Friends from sincere engagement in competitive activities.

In my own recent experience playing tennis as a senior, I’ve felt some ambivalence during competitive play as a Quaker. When my male partners in mixed doubles complain to me that I lack the “killer instinct,” and that I am too “gentle” when its time for aggressive play, I do my best to step up my game. I try to let go of my conditioning as a nice girl, as a kind woman, as a practicing Friend, and then I sometimes have the experience of winning points and matches. But, later I feel guilty for “that attitude” of aggression.   I remind myself that although I hold the desire to win, I don’t desire winning at all costs. For example, recently in mixed doubles, the woman on the apposing team ws recovering from a yearlong absence from the court due to cancer. She had just returned to the court, eagerly, into the fray. We played twice that week. The first time, my partner and I prevailed against her and her (skillful) partner. The second time, I said to myself, consciously: She really wants to win; she has been through so much; she deserves to win. Sure enough, my level of play went down, hers went up, and her team prevailed. I wonder if this is an example of a Friendly spirit-led version of sport, a Friendly version of competitive sport.

Underlying this social dimension of religion and sport is a deeper spiritual dimension. Friends who have well-toned habits in worship and in sport might become aware of a transcendent quality that is similar in both. Athletes call this, “being in the Zone,” having a Zen moment,” or “going with the Flow.” For me, even though I might not have recognized it at the time, this has shown up as a well-executed flip turn in a swimming pool, a delicate drop shot on a squash court, a fly ball over first base to drive in the winning run, a floating high while jumping off the wake while water skiing, a twist around moguls on the ski slope, a spinning crosscourt forehand on the tennis court, or jogging slowly in the woods.

Some Friends may be familiar with this sensation. In his introduction to Zen in the Art of Archery, D.T. Suzuki speaks of the state of “purposeless tension” present when an archer “ceases to be conscious of himself as the one who is engaged in hitting the bull’s eye…” Similarly, according to a popular quotation from Billy Jean King, “Tennis is a perfect combination of violent action taking place in an atmosphere of total tranquility.”

Just as in a gathered meeting, this deep spiritual dimension of perfect harmony can reveal itself among a team of athletes as well as in an individual. Learning to row with synchronicity among a shell of eight rewers, as a middle-aged woman, has been one of the highlights of my sporting life. In his 2013 book, The Boys in the Boat, author Daniel James Brown describes the University of Washington boat coming up from behind to win the gold in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin: “As they flew down the last few hundred yards, their eight taut bodies rocked back and forth like pendulums, in perfect synchronicity…they were, in fact, a poem of motion, a symphony of swinging blades.”

This is not an everyday experience, even among highly trained athletes. It certainly doesn’t happen each time an individual or a team takes to the field. However, when an athlete is “in the Zone,” it’s as though they can do no wrong. Everything that goes into the activity clicks; it feels easy for the athlete and appears effortless to the onlooker.

Further, being in the Zone can help a person move through pain. In the Wisdom of Compassion, by the Dalai Lama and Victor Chan (2012), Chan describes techniques of mindfulness that helped him lower his physical and psychological destress while trekking at high altitudes in the Himalayas, loaded with a fifty-pound pack. He brought his full attention into each step he took and visualized leaving as shallow an imprint of his feel on wet sand as possible. This simple technique centered him. “The snatches of euphoria that came from being ‘in the Zone’ lessened the physical and psychological discomfort of trekking long distances in high altitudes.

For me, being in the Zone feels similar to the feeling I have when I am deeply centered in worship: I feel an absence of time passing and a capacity for not being flustered. The more centered I get on the tennis court, the more I am able to shut out distractions, let my training and instincts flow, and play with grace.

I certainly don’t expect to be in the Zone every time I play a sport – and I wouldn’t want to be. It would be too intense and exhausting over time. However, I do believe that being in the Zone is a phenomenon that is accessible to Friends. As neuroscientists study thr brains of experienced meditators and athletes, the links between the athletic and the spiritual will become more understandable.

In the meantime, I would encourage Friends to incorporate more sporting activity in Friendly gatherings. Let’s begin a dialogue on the links between spirit and sport, on the links between Meeting for Worship and being in the Zone.

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