Quaker Practice This Month's Blog Post


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. ~ AA Serenity Prayer

Last year Spirit worked with me on cultivating joy; this year I am led to work on cultivating peace. When I am not at peace, I can’t access my joy. You may recall from my blog on The Book of Joy (, that one of the pillars is Acceptance. In this blog, I will explore Acceptance through the lens of the AA Serenity Prayer.

The Wisdom to Know the Difference

In my experience, this is actually the first step to serenity. I used to charge into a situation and start doing something, believing that taking action was the most important thing to do. Quakerism has helped me learn to step back, observe, season, sit in silence and seek guidance. Discernment takes time and when I’m overwhelmed and just want a problem solved, I can rush the process and make a bigger mess. If I don’t take time, I can easily take on something that isn’t mine to do or step on someone’s toes who was doing just fine before I came along!

Patience is a word that comes to mind here. It’s important that we be patient and take our time when choosing our words and actions. We can forget how powerful they are. I still have a lot to learn. Being aware of this, I try to ask for time to consider the best course of action from a variety of perspectives, including the “God’s eyes” perspective Desmond Tutu recommends.

I’ve also learned that emotional detachment is essential for me to be able to see a situation from a variety of perspectives. If I am too attached to my way of viewing things and the solution I favor, I can miss important aspects that others see more clearly. When we collaborate from a place of equality, we are more likely to contribute to transformative change.

I am learning that sometimes the most powerful choice is to be still and not act, but allow things to unfold, trusting that if there is something I am led to contribute, it will become clear. Sometimes the most helpful action is non-action and holding someone in the Light, trusting they will be guided and find their way.

The Courage to Change the Things I Can

The next step for me is to assess my Light. Do I have the time, energy and resources to take on what I’ve identified I might help with? As I get older, this becomes more of an issue for me. I must prioritize what I can engage with and what I must leave for others to shine their Light on.

I do recall when I was younger that I lacked courage because I lacked confidence and was afraid of making a mistake. I think these things can hold many of us back from engaging in transformative work. Another aspect of this that I have struggled with is feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of a situation and then becoming paralyzed. With this block, it helps to take one small step at a time.

The Dalai Lama says that he believes much of our stress is caused by having too high expectations. When my expectations are too high, it can lead to exhaustion and despair. Lately, I’ve been working on adjusting my expectations and I find that does help. I can celebrate the small successes and keep on going without burning out.

The Dalai Lama also encourages us not to be attached to the outcome of our efforts as this also causes stress and frustration. Lao Tzu agrees with him, recommending that we give ourselves fully to an action that flows through us and then let go and let the Tao do its work. I remind myself that I cannot see the bigger picture or understand the Mystery and I may never know the ultimate effect of my efforts.

Another skill I have found invaluable is the ability to set clear boundaries with compassion. It is hard to disappoint others and tell them “no” when they ask for our help. I recall reading a chapter in a book by life coach, Cheryl Richardson, entitled “Let me Disappoint You.” She gave wonderful advice on how to sensitively let down others by attending to their feelings, clearly stating our own limits and what we can do, and then offering some options for other resources.

Accepting What I Cannot Change

This final step is the most challenging for me personally. I was raised to be a perfectionist, trained to look at what was awry and get busy fixing it. Accepting something that I thought needed to be changed seemed wrong and lazy. I’ve learned that sometimes things are fine just the way they are and it’s only my judgment that needs changing. Everyone has their own journey, and the world has its own journey, affected by our collective consciousness. We are responsible for our journey and our contributions to others and to the collective, but we are not responsible for others or for the state of the world.

Along the way, I realized that I must first accept a situation, become “fierce with reality”, before I can do transformative work. We must break through our denial and our attachments to what we wish was happening. To develop a clear picture, it helps to listen deeply to others and pay attention to what is going on beneath the surface with a compassionate and open heart and mind.

There are many situations in our lives and in the world that we cannot personally change, or that we can only contribute a small piece to improving. Then we must step back and let it be, trusting that there’s a greater Mystery at work that we don’t understand. We can cultivate serenity, kindness, joy and hope in our own hearts and radiate that out to others and the world around us. This is more helpful than fretting about what we cannot change or getting lost in fear, stress and despair. We can embody the change we would like to see in the world and let our lives speak. Never underestimate how powerful that can be!


Which aspect(s) of the Serenity Prayer are the most challenging for you?

What have you learned along the way that has helped you become more accepting of reality and those around you? What do you still need to work on?

How do you decide what to change and then what do you do? Is your process working or do you need to make changes?

By Rhonda Ashurst, RFM Blog Contributor

The opinions expressed above are not necessarily those of Reno Friends Meeting.

Quaker Practice

The Case for Words

In a blog a few months ago, I made the Case for Silence in a Quaker Meeting. Today I want to make the Case for Words.

When Quakers worship, the silence inside the Meeting House occasionally is broken by someone who rises to share a message they feel moved to say. These messages are usually simple, and most have a universal element, since messages should be shared only if they offer something to others. So, yes, we Quakers worship in silence, but we also listen – to God, to each other, to our own hearts – and share that with the community around us.

Why allow the silence to be disrupted in this way? Sometimes a Meeting for Worship is silent for the entire hour, leaving a deep sense of fulfillment. Silence is necessary to hear what God might be telling us, or to sift through the whirl of thoughts so we can make sense of our lives or the world. Sometimes, however, the silence is challenging, as we may be inclined to turn away from this inner voice; sometimes we might lose the inner voice in the comfort of the silence. 

Which is why words matter. Quakers call these messages Vocal Ministry, and the words are often what bring us together. We worship together –rather than alone in our homes — in part because the words we share enrich our experience. Some of the most simple and beautiful messages I’ve ever heard were shared at Quaker Meeting. A heartfelt message can open up a whole world in my head. When I am spiritually cold, the messages in Meeting feel like warm mittens handed to me by friends, and the wide range of spiritual insights can feed me for days.

Sometimes messages are shared using words that make some people uncomfortable, as we all have our own experience of God. When that happens, I try to remember this guidance from the British Yearly Meeting: “When words are strange or disturbing to you, try to sense where they come from and what has nourished the lives of others. Receive the vocal ministry of others in a tender and creative spirit; reach for the meaning deep within it, recognizing that even if it is not God’s word for you, it may be so for others.”

One of my favorite messages was shared by a Reno Friend who stood up one day to quote from the Quran: “If the day of judgment erupts while you are planting a new tree, carry on and plant it.” She linked these words to her deep concern and love for the natural world. Her message speaks to me still.

Wendy Swallow, RFM Blog Editor

The opinions expressed above are not necessarily those of Reno Friends Meeting.

Newsletter Archive This Month's Newsletter

May 2024 Newsletter

May 2024 Reno Friends Meeting Schedule

Saturday May 4 – Spring Cleanup at the Meeting House and in the garden, 9 am to noon (details)

Sunday May 5 – Hybrid Silent Worship (In-Person and on Zoom), 10 am (details

Wednesday May 8 – Zoom Embodying the Light, 10-11 am (details)

Thursday May 9 – Zoom Meeting for Business, 7 to 8:30 pm (details)

Sunday May 12 – In-Person Silent Worship, 10 am (details

Thursday May 16 – In-Person Brown Bag Lunch, 12 noon (details)

Sunday May 19 – Hybrid Silent Worship (In-Person and on Zoom), 10 am (details)

Wednesday May 22 – Zoom Embodying the Light, 10-11 am (details)

Sunday May 26 – In-Person Silent Worship, 10 am (details)

Tuesday May 28 – Zoom Book Club Discussion 7-8 pm (details)

Wednesday May 29 – In-Person Embodying the Light Bonus Class at Lake Park (weather permitting), 10-11 am (details)

Sunday June 2 – Discussion of cottage update proposals, with cottage tour, 11:30 am, at the Meeting House and cottage

Other Important Dates

July 4-7 – Our affiliate Pacific Yearly Meeting is sponsoring wilderness adventures for Young Adult Friends (18-35) including a July 4th – 7th backpack in the Tahoe Forest.  Register for more information on the PacYM Young Adults page (under “Events”): .

July 19th – 24th Pacific Yearly Annual Session in person in Whittier, CA and on Zoom. (details)


We hold online meetings, spiritual discussions, book discussions and yoga on Zoom throughout the year. For details on using Zoom, see our Zoom guidelines.

Reno Friends Meeting Event Details & Other Notices

Join Us for Silent Worship in the Meeting House Every Sunday, or for Zoom Hybrid Worship, 1st and 3rd Sundays

Reno Friends Meeting holds Silent Worship in the Meeting House every Sunday at 10 am, with fellowship afterwards. On First and Third Sundays, we hold Hybrid Worship — and you may join us either in person or online via Zoom. You can read more about our setup here. For Hybrid Silent Worship on Zoom, we have developed a set of Zoom Worship guidelines. Here is the recurring Zoom link for Hybrid Silent Worship:

If you cannot attend, we invite you to send after-thoughts, joys and concerns, and requests to hold people in the Light to ministry(at) Our worship clerk will read them at the next Silent Worship.

COVID Updates

If you are not feeling well – even if you think it’s just a cold or allergies – we ask that you stay home. Masks are optional but welcome at all our events. You can read more about our COVID policy here.

Meeting House and Garden Clean-Up, Sat. May 4, 9 am to noon

Please join us Saturday morning May 4th to help tidy the garden and Meeting House for the spring season. A list of tasks will be sent out in the Weekly Update. Bring gardening gloves, rakes and other gardening tools if you have them. Many hands make light work!

Embodying the Light: Wednesdays on Zoom, May 8 & May 22, at 10 am

Rhonda Ashurst leads our “Embodying the Light” class of gentle yoga and Tai Chi/Qigong as a service to Reno Friends and the community. The class is usually held on Zoom from 10-11 am, on second and fourth Wednesday mornings. Zoom sessions this month will be Wednesdays May 8 and May 22. The Zoom link will be sent in the Weekly Update. See our website for more about the practice.

Rhonda has recently made a new video teaching an advanced version of her Embodying the Light practice. You can learn more about all her available videos on our website.

Brown Bag Lunch, Thurs., May 16, at 12 noon

Join hosts Peg McCall and Melanie Scott for an in-person Brown Bag Lunch at the Meeting House on May 16 at 12 noon. Anyone who wants to share lunch and fellowship with other Reno Friends is welcome.

First Day School: In-Person, Sun. May 26, 10-11 am.

Our First Day School holds class once a month, on fourth Sundays, which is also potluck Sunday. Children attend their class in the First Day School building and then join their parents for the last ten minutes of Silent Worship. Please contact the Meeting if you are interested in bringing children to the First Day School for the first time. You can email us at firstdayschool(at)

Reno Friends Book Club on Zoom, Tues. May 28, 7-8 pm

The Reno Friends Book Club meets every-other-month on fourth Tuesdays from 7 to 8 pm on Zoom. The Zoom link for the book gathering will be sent out in the RFM Weekly Update email. Volunteers facilitate the discussion, and all are welcome to join our lively debates — even those who have not read or finished the book!

Our book club selection for May 28: Sacred Nature: Restoring our Ancient Bond with the Natural World, by Karen Armstrong; Rhonda will be facilitating our discussion. From one of the most original thinkers on the role of religion in the modern world, a profound exploration of the spiritual power of nature—and an urgent call to reclaim that power in everyday life (Amazon). The book is Nonfiction; 224 pages; a Kindle version is available. The book is a new release.

Upcoming dates and book selections are:
  • August 27th, 2024: Seeking the Light: A Quaker Journey for Quakers and Non-Quakers by Linda Seger ThD The author, Dr. Linda Seger, is a long-time Quaker who has integrated her Quaker values as a professional in the scriptwriting and film industry for 40 years. This practical and accessible book deepens the faith of Quakers and introduces non-Quakers to Quaker testimonies, practices, and values. 329 pages; paperback and Kindle available; 11/23 release.
  • October 22nd, 2024: Still Forms on Foxfield by Joan Slonczewski; “Fleeing the final war that would destroy Earth’s civilization, a small group of Friends–Quakers–found refuge on the uncharted planet they named Foxfield. Somehow they managed to survive, with the aid of the bizarrely gifted native life-form, the Commensals–and, even more extraordinarily, they kept up the practice of their gentle but demanding beliefs. Then, after nearly a century of silence, Earth contacted them–human civilization had miraculously survived the war and had spread out to the stars, flourishing to an undreamed-of richness. And the Friends of Foxfield were a part of it–whether they agreed or not.” Science fiction; published in 1980; available used. No Kindle version available. This book is out of print, so you will need to order a used copy. If you don’t have a favorite used book seller, try ABE books.

We are always looking for the next volunteer to lead our book discussions. Is there a Quaker-ish book that you would like to share with us? Take a look at a list of our past and upcoming reads. For the book discussion, you can provide Quaker-style queries, or a few easy discussion questions, or a few quotes or passages from the book we’re discussing. If you have questions, email bookclub (at)

Next Spiritual Discussion: Tues. Jun. 25, 7-8 pm

There is no Spiritual Discussion in May. The Spiritual Discussions meet every-other-month on Fourth Tuesdays from 7-8 pm on Zoom, and the next meeting is Tues. June 25 with Cliff Smith leading a discussion on Ways to Connect with the Divine. At each gathering, we will consider a different topic, with brief readings or online videos, and a volunteer facilitator to summarize the material and pose queries for discussion. If you can, please read the assigned readings or watch the videos and come prepared to discuss the material.

If you have questions, please email them to classes(at) Rhonda Ashurst is the Spiritual Discussion coordinator, and she welcomes ideas/topics for future discussions and encourages everyone to consider facilitating on a topic of interest to you, if you are so inclined.

Peace and Social Concerns Committee

Wider Quaker World Events:

Thursday, May 9, 9:00 –10:00 a.m. Guest speaker Muhammad Zeidan will discuss the Palestinian experience in Israel. Sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee. Pre-registration required.

Wed. May 15th, 4:00-5:00 p.m. Pendle Hill’s May Reading Group, will focus on pamphlet #445, “Boycott,Divestment, and Sanctions? A Quaker Zionist Rethinks Palestinian Rights”. Pre-registration required.

Monday, June 3, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. Pendle Hill lecture (online): Election Violence Prevention: In the Virtue of that Life and Power that Takes Away the Occasion of All Wars. Pre-registration required.

Profile: The Friends Committee on National Legislation

Over the next few months, we will profile one of the organizations the Meeting supports with an annual financial donation. This month’s profile is the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL). Founded in 1943 in the midst of World War II, the Friends Committee on National Legislation [FCNL] was a natural outgrowth of three centuries of Quaker efforts to influence governmental decisions. Since the seventeenth century, Friends in England and America have encouraged or opposed the decisions of their governments, and efforts have continued throughout the centuries on such issues as war, slavery and the treatment of American Indians.

On November 1, 1943, FCNL became the nation’s first full-fledged year-round legislative program on behalf of any Protestant denomination and would begin a small but exciting role in the continuing struggle for peace, for an organized world and a just allocation of world resources, for racial justice and for liberty of conscience.  FCNL’s General Committee identified that the two main lines of endeavor would be:

  1. Give current and accurate information to individual Friends and Friends Meetings to assist them in reaching judgements about issues and in making their influence felt.
  2. Help Friends confer with Senators, Congressmen and other officials on matters of national policy, interpreting to them the principles and spirit of Friends.

In accepting the position of the first Executive Secretary of FCNL, E. Raymond Wilson said: “We ought to be willing to work for causes which will not be won now, but cannot be won in the future unless the goals are staked out now and worked for energetically over a period of time.”  Over the last 80 years, the FCNL community has lobbied Congress to advance peace and justice.  Here are just a few highlights:

  • 1940’s: Lobbying against conscription and for aid to war-torn Europe.
  • 1950’s: Defeating the Truman and Eisenhower administrations’ push for mandatory military training for young men.
  • 1960’s:  Influencing House and Senate committees to hold hearings of U.S.-China relations that proved pivotal in the path to détente between the U.S. and China.
  • 1970’s: Advocating for health care improvements for Native Americans.
  • 1980’s: Organizing the U.S.-Soviet Working Group which compiled a draft “Exchange for Peace Resolution” which contributed to a framework for thawed relations between the Soviet Union and the United States.
  • 1990’s: Working with other faith and domestic advocacy organizations to convince Congress to restore access to food support to immigrants.
  • 2010:  Directing the advocacy that led the Senate to ratify the New START Treaty which aimed to reduce the number of deployed nuclear weapons in Russia and the United States.
  • 2017:  Leading efforts to pass the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act, a bipartisan bill to enhance the government’s capacity to prevent, mitigate, and transform violent conflict around the world, building the United States’ capacity and investment in peacebuilding.

A framework for prioritizing legislative priorities was established 80 years ago when deciding the basic organizational framework for FCNL:  a General Committee constituted of appointed representatives from the various yearly meetings willing to endorse the FCNL, plus members appointed at large, in order to make the governing policy body widely representative of Friends across the country.  For over 80 years, Friends have been invited to prayerfully consider what FCNL’s lobbying focus should be in order to ground their work in Friends’ concerns.  As part of this process in preparation for the 2025-26 Congress, Reno Friends Meeting’s Peace and Social Concerns Committee has identified and Business Meeting has approved the following priorities to share with FCNL:

  1. Shift spending priorities from militarization by focusing more on human needs.
  2. Build a framework for peace that will contribute to preventing and resolving violent conflicts.
  3. Address climate change’s destructive effect on our natural environment.

A current focus of FCNL is developing future leaders to work for peace, justice and a sustainable environment in Washington, D.C. and beyond.  Programs for young adults include:

  • Advocacy Corps – leading local grassroots campaigns to educate and mobilize their communities in lobbying their members of Congress to advance big, long-term change. This year’s focus is shifting federal priorities from weapons and war toward the true needs of our communities.
  • Program Assistant Fellowship – working as a full-time staff member of FCNL for 11 months with placement on an outreach or a policy team as a program assistant.
  • Summer Internship – targeting undergraduate or college-age participants with an introduction to federal policy, grassroots organizing, and nonprofit management.
  • Spring Lobby Weekend – joining with other young adults for four days in Washington, D.C. to learn and lobby for an identified priority.  The priority for this year’s weekend (March 16-19, 2024) was advocating for a Truth and Healing Commission that will investigate violations at federally-sponsored native boarding schools.

For more information on FCNL’s history, current priorities, and activities, check out their website, (The above summary of the history of FCNL copies text from the following sources: website; Uphill for Peace: Quaker Impact on Congress, by E. Raymond Wilson (1975))

Donating to Reno Friends in 2024

If you would like to support Reno Friends Meeting, donations can be sent to our Meeting Treasurer Charlie Shepard at his home at 4395 Mountaingate Dr., Reno, NV, 89519. Or you can send money to the Meeting via your bank using the zelle payment application, which most banks offer for free. To make a Zelle transfer, you’ll need Reno Friends’ bank account number, which you can get by emailing the treasurer(at) Zelle eliminates the need to write a check and, for our Treasurers, the need to deposit your check at the bank. Thank you from Reno Friends!

Carson City Worship Group

The Carson City worship group meets every Sunday of the month for unprogrammed worship from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm in the living room of the Rectory of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Carson City. Masks are optional at this time. St. Peter’s, located at 314 North Division Street, occupies a small city block in the heart of Carson City’s Historic District. The Rectory, an historic two-story brick house, sits just south of the church building. If anyone would like to be connected to the Carson group, just email clerk(at)

Quaker Mission Stamp Project

Your canceled stamps are needed!  Read about it here!  Reno Friends Meeting has been supporting Right Sharing of World Resources for decades. Learn how this Quaker organization helps women in Sierra Leon, Kenya, India and before too long, Guatemala, support themselves, which in turn helps their families and villages.  

Outside Non-Profits That Meet at the Quaker Meeting House

Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families meets every Thursday from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm, and every Saturday from 5 pm to 6 pm. ACA is a world service 12-step program for those struggling with the legacy of growing up in an alcoholic or dysfunctional home. These groups are open to all.

Citizens Climate Lobby of Northern Nevada works with local and national legislators to pass a carbon tax and dividend to help stop global warming. CCL meets the 4th Tuesday of the month, 6:30 to 8 pm (except for Dec.). For more info, email Betsy Fadali at bfadali(at) Feel free to bring friends and neighbors, if they are interested. For more on CCL, go to

Other Quaker Activities & Announcements

Pacific Yearly Meeting 2024 Annual Session July 19 to 24: Clerk’s Call

We are happy to announce that Pacific Yearly Meeting will be meeting at Whittier College in Whittier, California, July 19-24, 2024.

Clerk’s Call, Pacific Yearly Meeting, 2024

Unprogrammed Quakers, beginning with George Fox, have claimed the concept of being “an experimental” tradition. We try out ideas, leadings, insights in community. George Fox said: “And when all my hopes in them (the priests and preachers) and in all were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me nor could tell what to do, then, Oh then, I heard a voice which said, “There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition,’ then when I heard it my heart did leap for joy…And this I knew experimentally.” — George Fox’s journal.
The theme for our annual session in July, 2024, will be Transformation. That doesn’t mean we know where we are headed, but we are invited to seek, to ask questions, to map where we have been, and to see if we can chart a path forward together. “I pin my hopes on quiet processes and small circles, where transforming events take place,” — Rufus Jones.

We will be blessed by a key note speaker, “.O” (see who will be zooming in from Philadelphia to be with us. To address both environmental and social justice issues, .O has made health and well-being their life’s purpose. S/He has worked for over 25 years as a practitioner and educator in the areas of body work, self-care, social services, and
health care support. S/He is a seasoned facilitator and leads workshops for individuals and groups to support their goals of healing our society’s legacies of racism, sexism, homophobia, and class privilege in order to build healthier and stronger relationships and organizations. Drawing on their Quaker values rooted in love, peace, and social justice, .O’s practice embraces a care-based, trauma-informed, healing justice approach to community organizing in support of social and environmental justice. .O is a staff member and spiritual midwife of Philly Thrive, a Philadelphia-based environmental justice organization focused on improving the health and wellbeing of the city’s residents and supporting a just transition to a cleaner, healthier future. S/He is a founding member of Alternatives To Gun Violence, a community healing collaborative committed to social justice in the Philadelphia area. A longtime Quaker, .O is a member of
Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, and leads Love and Respect Transform, a ministry that focuses on deepening our understanding and experience of alternatives to social and environmental violence by exploring the transformative power of love.

As we head into this transformative journey, the positive news is we will not all agree on the state of our yearly meeting, or where we want to go. We will have different visions and different priorities. The question is: Where is Spirit leading us? What does listening to each other and
Spirit look like? What changes might we need to undergo in order to act on what we discover?
“Listening to one another…into a condition of disclosure and discovery may be almost the greatest service that any human being ever performs for another.” — Douglas Steere.
“The only promise Life makes is this: Things will change. And when they do, we can try something new. We will still be we. But we will be different. We might not fit together as well as we once did, or maybe we’ll fit together even better.” — Mary Klein, Editor, Western Friend.
Come join us on this new chapter of our adventure as a faith community. We will be meeting in a new space, on the Whittier College Campus, in Whittier, California, and with Friends online in a more robust hybrid format. More spaces will have Zoom capacity, and students from the
campus will help facilitate these hybrid encounters.

For more information, go to Pacific Yearly Meeting.

Ben Lomond Quaker Center, Ben Lomond, CA

Ben Lomond Quaker Center has posted its 2024 calendar of programs and retreats. Programs include daily online Silent Worship (7:30-8 am) and Wednesday morning online Worship Sharing (10-11:30 am), go to

Write for What Canst Thou Say?

Tell us your stories! What Canst Thou Say? (WCTS) is an independent publication co-operatively produced by Friends with an interest in mystical experience and contemplative practice. WCTS is a worship-sharing group in print. We hope to help Friends be tender and open to the Spirit. Articles that best communicate to our readers are those that focus on specific events and are written in the first person. We welcome submissions of articles less than 1500 words and artwork suitable for black and white reproduction. It is published in February, May, August, and November. The editorial and production team is Muriel Dimock, Lissa Field, Mariellen Gilpin, Judy Lumb, Grayce Mesner, Mike Resman, Earl Smith, Eleanor Warnock, and Rhonda Ashurst.

Reno Friends are welcome to email submissions to Rhonda Ashurst at classes (at) Please send your text submissions in Word or generic text format, and artwork in high-resolution jpeg files. Photocopied art and typed submissions are also accepted. All authors and artists retain copyright to their articles and artwork published in WCTS.

Quaker Testimonies

Eating the Climate Elephant: One Bite at a Time

I walk through what was once a lively forest, now reduced to charred standing skeletons devoid of branches, needles, shade. This was once a welcoming vibrant forest retreat, but now I am hypervigilant, watching for a strong wind as swaying snags threaten my head. There is life here—beetles furiously chewing in the snags, woodpeckers hammering to pry them out—but it is hard to focus on these small signs. Surrounded by these visual reminders of forest trauma, I am overwhelmed by the grief and shock of this rapid change to the forest ecosystem—not just the loss of our forest community, but also of homes burned, towns burned. It stirs my memories of people living in tents on the roadside because they had nowhere else to go.

Newsletter Archive

April 2024 Newsletter

Quaker Practice

The Magic of Meeting for Business

Few people love a meeting, but most organizations hold meetings because they have essential business to accomplish. Quaker Meetings are no different:  once a month, most Quaker Meetings hold what is formally known as “Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business.” To be honest, a Quaker Meeting for Business is unlike most meetings I’ve had to attend in my life, either for work or with community organizations. And the key to the difference is in the formal name.

Newsletter Archive

March 2024 Newsletter

Quaker Practice

The Case for Silence

There is something about the stillness of midwinter that soothes the soul. Much of the natural world sleeps. Though the wind still blows and birds hop about searching for seeds, for the most part the cold and dark confer a deep, healing silence.

Many of us who attend Quaker Meeting on Sundays are drawn by the opportunity to sit in communal silence for an hour. The Quaker silence started, in part, as a reaction to church services of the seventeenth century, which were filled with ritual and liturgy. Early Quakers believed, instead, that each person must come to her or his own understanding and experience of God. The silence is a chance to listen for God – the stillness enables us to quiet the busyness of our brains and discern what God might want us to hear. It requires waiting.

Newsletter Archive

February 2024 Newsletter

Quaker Practice

The Dark Side of Gratitude

January, the season of resolutions, is always a time when I vow to do better with my Gratitude Practice. I usually start out strong, listing three things every day that I am grateful for, but – inevitably – sometime in the cold, dark days of February when it looks like winter will never end, I give it up. I’m not sure why. But I found a clue the other day: a note to myself that I should write a blog about the dark side of gratitude. And that was all it said; I had no idea what I had meant when I made that note months earlier.