Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I've been waiting for a leading for the last several years regarding what aspect of justice I'm called to focus on. It seems like there are so many different issues and so many different nuances of each issue, and to think about living out the Quaker peace testimony is just too huge. As I look at the examples of historical Friends I see that lots of them waited on God for a long time before they got a specific sense of direction. Fox labored with his doubt and questioning of the established church for years before Christ broke through to him in a way he could understand, and once he had that focus he went and shared about it hither and yon. Elizabeth Fry was about my age when she started doing prison ministry. Lucretia Mott was in her 50s when the women's movement began in earnest. (I like to gauge myself by Elizabeth Fry, because she was born 200 years before me! If that's the case, I'll find my "Newgate Prison" next year. I didn't follow her example in childbearing, however--by now I'd have 8 kids! Also, I should have been recorded as a Friends minister last year. Oh well.)

At any rate, I've felt led to focus more and more on ecojustice. I was feeling really drawn that way one day in August while sitting at my kitchen counter, eating breakfast. I flipped through some mail and noticed something about the FWCC World Gathering that happened in Kenya this last April, and I opened it up and read the Kabarak Call for Peace & Ecojustice. It calls Friends "to be patterns and examples in a 21st century campaign for peace and ecojustice, as difficult and decisive as the 18th and 19th century drive to abolish slavery." This is what I really feel called to do.

Earthcare is a justice issue. The way we treat the Earth effects us, all our neighbors and our children to who-knows-how-many generations. Also, the way we use resources matters because it often dictates how and where we engage in conflicts that become violent around the world.

I feel called, like John Woolman, to start making small, individual steps toward living more justly in terms of the way I treat the Earth and its resources. This is not to say, of course, that I'll be the spiritual giant Woolman was, remembered by generations of Friends, but I feel called to start living out what I believe in my own life and see where it takes me/us. I've been reading a bit of Woolman lately because I've been writing a paper on ecojustice and Quakers, and below is a quote that stands out to me. Woolman was talking about whether or not he should get a new hat that is not dyed, so that he's not supporting slavery.

Here I had occasion to consider that things, though small in themselves, being clearly enjoined by Divine authority, become great things to us; and I trusted that the Lord would support me in the trials that might attend singularity, so long as singularity was only for [God's] sake. (John Greenleaf Whittier, ed., John Woolman's Journal, chapter VIII, 1761-1763, paragraph 11)
It may not keep the climate from changing if I ride my bike or if I only use one paper towel to dry my hands, if I buy local food or if I recycle everything I possibly can. What matters is taking small steps of faithfulness as led. What matters is living out God's love in the world in the ways I'm shown. What matters is having the courage to do the things to which I'm called. Whether or not they're effective is up to God.


Alice Y. said...

Great, thanks for sharing this Cherice. It is good to be reminded of the shape of the lives of Quaker ministers in the past. Somehow the modern era of celebrity makes out we should have achieved big things before 30 if we are going to. Whereas it takes a lot of us more years than that to get the hang of our gifts and calling.

Ray Lovegrove said...

From 'Quaker Faith & Practice' (UK)

"We must be confident that there is still more 'life' to be 'lived' and yet more heights to be scaled. The tragedy of middle age is that, so often, men and women cease to press 'towards the goal of their high calling'. They cease learning, cease growing; they give up and resign from life. As wisdom dawns with age, we begin to measure our experiences not by what life gives to us, not by the things withheld from us, but by their power to help us to grow in spiritual wisdom."

Evelyn Sturge

Anonymous said...

"Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a heaven in hell's despair."

So sung a little Clod of Clay,
Trodden with the cattle's feet,
But a Pebble of the brook
Warbled out these metres meet:

"Love seeketh only Self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another's loss of ease,
And builds a hell in heaven's despite."

Anonymous said...

I liked the poem above, when working with SAYMA Quakers on Kabarak. I must earn to live all over again. I am licciardelloj@belsouth.net