Sunday, January 24, 2016

on power

In recent years, I've noticed an upswing in what sound like power struggles in Friends communities. These kinds of power struggles are not uncommon among Friends, really, and perhaps are one of the hallmarks of the underside of what it means to be Friends, but the power struggles are breaking out into the open of late, at least in the United States. Yearly meetings are splitting or threatening to split, meetings and individual Friends are threatened with expulsion or actually expelled, and Friends across the Internets are drawing up battle lines to support one or the other side. This has happened before in Friends history, leading to the various branches of Friends exhibited today, and of course this is not limited to Friends: all denominations and all people groups seem susceptible to this kind of factional sensibility (or senselessness; you decide).

But one would hope that Friends would be different.

Among Friends, power is supposed to come from inspiration of the Holy Spirit or Light of Christ, experienced inwardly and communally. In an ideal world, Friends would listen to this Spirit and follow its guidance, whether or not they agree with its politics. In an ideal world, Friends would trust the Spirit at work in one another, and listen to the wisdom each one brings. In this ideal world, no power struggles would be necessary: no political positioning of individuals in positions of power within the community, no stacking the deck with one's favored "side" on committees, no fearful accusations that someone's appointment was being used to do so. In this ideal world, the importance is not, "What does this person believe?" Rather, the questions are more like, "Is this person someone who I trust to listen well to the Light of Christ? Is this person someone through whom we have witnessed God speaking? Do we feel called to place responsibility on this person, and to submit our wills together to God through this person?"
Figure 1

This is not what I see when I look at Quakerism today. What I see is not trust; it is fear. This comes from both "sides," and it is something that I admit I have fallen prey to at times. This fear is seductive, because when one "side" fears and draws up battle lines, it causes defensiveness in the other "side," requiring them to also form up their lines and retreat to the safe space of their own like-minded people. Then the power struggle begins, with each side attempting to defeat the other, using secretive tactics that further undermine trust, using rules as weapons for their own advantage and to force losses by the other side, and attempting to cleanse the community of anyone who does not agree. I repeat: this happens on both "sides" of today's struggles.

In my opinion, the fact that we have "sides" shows that we have all already lost the battles we are trying to win.

Figure 2
Before I got married, our premarital counselor showed us a simple but elegant graphic of conflict between spouses, but this can represent any two parties in a conflict. It looked something like Figs. 1 and 2. People see one another as the problem (Fig. 1), and they shoot volleys toward the problem, which also means they aim at the other person in the conflict. Instead, our counselor suggested, what if we imagine ourselves on the same side of the problem, working together to tear down or in some other way work through the problem? (See Fig. 2.) Instead of seeing one another as enemies within a conflict, we see one another as fellow problem-solvers, with whom we want to get through the conflict, relationship intact.

This sounds easy, right? So why is it so hard to do? Well, I've been married for over 14 years now, and I will tell you that it is not easy. We have had our fair share of seeing each other as the problem. I'm usually the worst on this, because I think I know everything. (Pray for my husband!) But when we're at our best in the midst of a conflict, we remember these charts, and we attempt to reframe the conflict toward Fig. 2. How are we going to move through this together? How are we going to work together to solve this problem? What skills and perspective does the other person have on this conflict that hold the key to resolving it successfully? What am I holding onto that is not necessary, or even, when seen from the other person's perspective, is completely wrong-headed or requires more nuance?

If we add God to the picture (though I didn't make graphics for this one), we can see that if we think of ourselves in the Fig. 1 conflict, we each imagine that God is on our side, and one of us has to be wrong. But in Fig. 2, we can recognize that God is on our side, and we are both right—it's just a matter of listening to God and allowing God to speak to us, helping us solve this problem.

Furthermore, Colossians 3:14 comes to mind, which suggests that when we are in conflict with those who are part of our spiritual community, in addition to all the other good suggestions, we are to "put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity" (NIV). I see that binding as a glue that draws us together, that keeps us together on one side of the conflict, so that nothing can wedge itself between us. In some views of the Trinity, the Spirit is seen as the binding agent between God and Jesus, and also the one that draws us into that interconnected economy, such as Jonathan Edwards, who says that "the Spirit is the consent of love that creates the relation of beauty between two persons" (according to Kyle C. Strobel, The Ecumenical Edwards, Ashgate, 2015). (While, perhaps, this view of the Trinity is insufficient if held singularly, that can be said of any view of the Trinity, since all our metaphors fall short of full explanation, but it is yet a helpful way of looking at this mystery, in my opinion.) Here, Edwards through Strobel is talking about the persons of the Trinity, but I think if we bring this into Quaker theology, we can see that it is this bond of unity through the loving presence of the Spirit that we hope will guide us as human persons together in our meetings for worship for business.

Why is this so difficult?

Well, because when we see the problem from the Fig. 2 point of view, we lose control of the outcome. I cannot coerce or defeat my enemy into submitting to my viewpoint or running away; I must ask the other to willingly submit him or herself to working on solving the problem together...and this means I must submit myself to the same.

This means that I can't control the outcome. It means that the way we solve the problem may not be the way I would have liked, or the way I would have done it. In our heads, we know this opens up the process to the potential of the "third way" we like to talk about as Friends, but this act of submission is scary. It makes us feel vulnerable.

What if the other person/side only pretends to submit themselves, and really is holding onto their preconceived agenda?

What if we hear the Spirit, and the Spirit says the opposite of what I believe, and the other side ends up "winning"?

What if we end up listening to human "wisdom" rather than God?

What if it takes FOREVER and we never reach a conclusion?

These are real fears. We have fears of whether or not we can trust one another, we have fears of identity (who will I be if I have to change my belief?), we have fears of getting it wrong, we have fears regarding time and efficiency, which are really fears of worthiness in our culture that values efficiency above all.

These are legitimate fears. Who in your meeting, let alone your yearly meeting, do you know well enough to trust utterly to listen to the Spirit? How often do we practice actually listening to one another, and how often do practice listening to the Spirit speak through one another, discerning together what is God and what is our own contribution? How often do we practice mutual submission and healthy conflict resolution in our own communities? These are counter-cultural practices, and they are difficult. We may tout them as ideals, but do we practice them in our marriages, our meetings, our yearly meetings? At what point do our communities become too large and unwieldy for us to know one another well enough to do this kind of work effectively? I mean, it can be argued that two people—even one person—is too many people in order to fully trust one another. Plenty of marriages end in divorce, and many individuals find it difficult to resolve conflict within themselves without tearing themselves apart or resorting to our culture's many numbing self-medications. Resolving conflicts well is hard, painful work.

Another important piece of Quaker tradition becomes a problem here, too. When do I hold onto my piece of truth and refuse to let it go, bringing the prophetic voice to my people relentlessly, and when do I submit my piece of truth to the discernment of the community, waiting and trusting that God can speak through the gathered body as to the truth of my piece? When we value the individual conscience, the individual's ability to hear and understand the voice of God inwardly, each of us can think ourselves a prophet, holding tenaciously to our sense of Divine guidance, each assuming we are squarely within the stream of Quaker tradition and the other is not. When we experience this type of conviction, we feel the Spirit coursing through our bodies and souls. We know, inwardly, and no one can take this truth from us.

And yet, what of those on the other "side" who feel the same way, and have come to a different conclusion?

It is this tension within the Quaker tradition, between the recognition of both individual and communal discernment, that I believe is our greatest strength as a community, but it also has the potential to be our greatest weakness. It can either bind us to one another in an attempt to listen to God speak to us, be it through a prophetic individual or as a collective body, or it can tear us apart into individual, prideful know-it-alls who think they have the corner on the market of truth, the lone voice speaking truth in the midst of a sea of nonsense.

For those of you still reading this long post, kudos! I will reward you with sharing something more personal.

In my yearly meeting, Northwest Yearly Meeting, I have been in the recording process for eight years, and I recently received notice that my application for recording has been rejected on grounds of theology. This means that all these ideals that I'm talking about at the yearly meeting level have now become personal, to some degree—or at least, they have impacted my life on a personal level. I see this as a microcosm of what is going on in our yearly meeting, and I have a difficult choice. I can submit myself to the discernment of my community, and assume that they are listening to God, and that my theology is outside the bounds of who "we" are. I can choose to stay and submit to the Faith & Practice (or stay as long as I'm allowed and not submit), or I can choose to leave. Or, I can choose to reject the decision of this committee, continuing to speak the truth as I see it, supposing that those who made this decision (and other recent decisions in our yearly meeting) are off base and are not actually listening to God, and that I am. None of these options seems great, and I will share about it, not so you'll feel sorry for me that I didn't get recorded (what's the point of recording, anyway?), but to show in this example what is going on when we make larger decisions that impact whole yearly meetings.

In the first choice I outlined above, I would have to submit to the community in direct opposition to the sense of leading I feel. This is not shared discernment; it is a hierarchy, where we place people in authority over us and we respect their decisions. Perhaps this is not all bad. In Quaker circles, sometimes we struggle with the idea of leadership, because if we have no hierarchy, how do we recognize leaders? But if we recognize leaders and then no one is willing to follow them because we all think we're right, what is the point of recognizing leaders? So in an ideal world, I would accept the decision of the committee tasked with such decisions, because we do need leaders.

In the parenthetical option I outlined above, I could stay, but not feel welcome or at home. I could stay and feel abused and mistreated: they'll take my ministry but they won't officially recognize the Spirit at work in me. I would be living with the knowledge that at any point, I could be rejected by my people. This is not a healthy space in which to provide leadership, but it is a choice many of us are making.

I can choose to leave. This has its benefits: no more agonizing over politics, no more worrying about how in the world to resolve this conflict, no more dealing with people with whom I disagree. Many people choose this option. It's easier. Why work through this conflict with these people? Why not go find people I'm more like? Why not just give up? Since I can listen to God on my own, why do I need these people, or any people, for that matter? Yes, it's easier, but it's also painful, for someone who grew up in this community. This is my spiritual home, and I want to see it flourish in the Light of Christ. When people hear I come from this community, I want to be proud of my people. I want our name to be respected because we are following Christ together in the most loving way we know how, and that shows like a beacon of light out to the world. I don't want to just leave and give up on this people I love. I don't want to wander out into the world, family-less and jaded.

Rejecting the decision of this committee smacks of pridefulness, however. Though I have others on my "side" who agree with me and who do see the Spirit at work in my ministry, listening to what I want to hear instead of the discernment of those on the committee makes me sound (and feel) egotistical. What grounds do I have for suggesting that my truth is any more valid than theirs? Yes, I feel it inwardly, but do I not believe that they feel similar inward leadings?

I named this post "on power" because all of this has to do with issues of power, with controlling the narrative of who "we" are, of who's in and who's out. The difficult thing about Quakers and power is that power comes from the Spirit, and we are all woefully incapable of discerning that Spirit by ourselves, but we are also woefully capable of misidentifying the Spirit together. Discerning which is which is a slow and laborious process in which we must all give up our own power in order to paradoxically receive the Spirit's power. This requires massive amounts of trust, personal humility, and willingness to be countercultural. It requires a move into mystery, into the unknown, seeking for God in every direction, and trusting that we can, in fact, resolve humanly-intractable conflicts if we wait and trust and love and let go.

At this point in our yearly meeting's history, we are not doing this well. I do not trust the recording committee; I do not trust many in yearly meeting leadership. I do not even trust my friends, because "we" are just as prone to bring an agenda as "they" are. I do not trust either "side" to let down its guard and stop politicking long enough to actually listen. I trust myself, and the inward Light of Christ I sense, but I do not assume I have the whole truth.

I long for a community I can trust, a community that will really live into the Fig. 2 perspective on our conflicts. I long for a community that doesn't have to decide "Evangelical" or "Quaker," that doesn't have to choose "biblical" or "personal revelation," that doesn't have to question "liberal" or "conservative." I long for a community that holds, "We're in this together because we are bound together by the Spirit's love, and we are going to work through this together, because we can only 'win' if we all win."

I want Northwest Yearly Meeting to be that community, a place where I can fully submit to the decisions of any committee because I know they are seeking God first rather than trying to draw a line of who's in and who's out. I hope that we can learn to trust one another in this way, and speak to and of one another in ways that lead toward this kind of relationship.

I am afraid, because vulnerability leaves me open to attack. I feel myself desiring to draw back, to not engage, to stop placing myself in a situation where I am vulnerable, to close up and leave. I am afraid because I feel like that is exactly what some in this community want of me, and others like me. I am afraid because if one "side" opens itself up and the other does not, one side is defeated in a bloody, one-sided slaughter where the aggressors retain all the assets.

But I offer my loving, vulnerable engagement in this conflict, and I choose to see others as Friends of Jesus, fellow travelers on the Way, fumbling step by fumbling step, moving forward, stronger together. I choose to trust the power of the Spirit of Christ in our midst, who binds us together in perfect unity.

16 comments:

Daniel Wilcox said...

Cherice,
Thanks for this in depth article on the current troubles.

You wrote, "In this ideal world, the importance is not, "What does this person believe?" Rather, the questions are more like, "Is this person someone who I trust to listen well to the Light of Christ? Is this person someone through whom we have witnessed God speaking?"

Yes and no. :-)

I agree that the central truth in Friends is not the way of power.

However, as I'm sure you are familiar, power struggles did distort Friends' relationships all the way back to George Fox and James Naylor. He demanded that Naylor kiss his foot! Whew...

Levi Coffin was expelled from his Friends meeting for helping runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad.

We humans all err.

I agree with you that abstract doctrinal belief isn't the Light. Usually, dogma--even Quaker ways--restrict the Light.

The problem is though that "belief" does have a huge impact on every one of us.

For example, you mentioned Jonathan Edwards in your article. Wow, if I based my understanding on your quoting him, I would be certain that you trust in a totally different God than us!
I studied under a professor who earned his PhD. on Jonathan Edwards, and I taught Edwards to students for many years.

Edwards' horrific faith and way of living and thinking and trusting is completely different from the Light. :-(

Sorry for the rant, but I guess it shows beliefs do shape who and what we trust in.

Then there are plenty of Friends who deny "through whom we have witnessed God speaking." It is their central belief that there is no God.

Other Friends in contrast now even subscribe to Calvinistic beliefs, the very false religion which George Fox and the early Quakers totally rejected!

The difficulty at issue in North Carolina Yearly Meeting and Northwest Yearly Meeting and a couple of years ago in Indiana Yearly Meeting is a question of "moral belief" which is even more difficult to reconcile.

The question is when Friends hold completely contrary ontological and moral outlooks, how can they worship together?

I'm an inclusivist (though that wouldn't include Edwards or Calvin:-(.

However after being involved in Friends to one degree or another since 1966, and experienced Friends promoting everything from the atom bomb to polytheism,
I'm not sure that all Friends can walk together if their direction is in opposite direction.

Maybe the key is to have an agreement upon Center (from Thomas Kelly), then anybody and everybody can draw close or move away.

There are no "releasings," but on the other hand, there is the Center.

Cherice Bock said...

Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Daniel! Regarding your comments on George Fox asking James Naylor to kiss his foot, do you think this is a positive example of leadership, or what is your point here? In my opinion, this would be an example of a leader who let the power go to his head. On the other hand, maybe that was the kind of thing Naylor needed, since his "leadership" wasn't really taking the faith in a helpful direction. I have no problem, really, with submission to leaders through whom God is working and active, though I think they should still be questioned at every turn in order to make sure they're not just using their reputation to do things that aren't as godly.

Regarding Edwards, yes--I hesitated to include that, since most of what he is known for is his "sinners in the hands of an angry God" and his Calvinist leanings, but I also studied under people who knew him well and I came to appreciate some of his theology. In my experience, that's about as good as it gets, since I don't completely agree with anyone's theology! I feel clear to listen to the voices of theologians who have thought hard on these issues, even if they have come down on different sides of things than I have, and to look for the places where the Light shines through.

In this post I am mainly speaking to Friends who are attempting to stay focused on Jesus and the Bible as a grounding of Quaker thought and practice. I acknowledge that there are many Friends for whom this is not the case, and I agree that we cannot exactly all join into one big happy family of Friends again with such divergent views. My hope is that we do not need to fracture further, however.

Your suggestions about the Center remind me of the work of Dorotheus of Gaza, an early monk (6th century, I believe), who thought that we are all on a journey toward God, who is at the center. As we move toward God, we simultaneously move closer to those who are also on the journey toward God. I hope this describes us as Friends.

Daniel Wilcox said...

Thanks for listening.

You asked, "do you think this is a positive example of leadership, or what is your point here?"

No, I thought for Fox to tell someone to "kiss my foot" showed his dark side. And Fox, like all of us, have our bad side. Sometimes George could be vindictive and self-centered.

But compared to nearly all of the other leaders during the English Civil War, Fox was a window to the Light. Contrast his Journal (reading it greatly helped me in a troubling period in my life) and his nonviolent actions of truth to the active slaughter, theft, persecution, and determinism of the other Christians in England and there is no comparison.

As for Edwards, he claimed that no humans have a choice:-( and that God has foreordained my family and billions of other humans to eternal damnation.:-(
How horrific and hopeless a theology.

Dorotheus of Gaza sounds interesting. I'll check him out:-)

Howard Brod said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Howard Brod said...

"We're in this together because we are bound together by the Spirit's love, and we are going to work through this together, because we can only 'win' if we all win."

Your above statement is beautiful and full of Light, and is the essence of God. But it is not a reachable vision for a spiritual community that is obsessed with forms that have become their idols. Idols are put before God and are in effect worshipped as though they are God. These idols come in many different forms; the most destructive being "doctrines" or "notions" as early Friends termed them. When a spiritual community makes interpretation of the Bible a necessary requirement of its theology, it has made the Bible its idol. The same is true of doctrines that have become a requirement to be a part of the spiritual community; thereby also making doctrines an idol to be (in effect) worshipped. And like all idols, these will demand to be placed before anything else - including the 'Love and Light' that is our Source and very being.

I have seen that within some groups of Friends, your quoted statement above is indeed alive and well. There are spiritual communities within both liberal and pastoral Friends that reject all forms as their God, and instead place their Oneness and unity as a spiritual community in the 'Love and Light' you so beautifully express.

There may come a time that you are led to bless one of these communities with your presence - even if you choose to continue being a part of Northwest Yearly Meeting, as well. These enlightened spiritual communities that I speak of are willing and eager to have all among them who, like them, see no value in requiring "membership" that acts as a prison to keep the spiritually-minded locked within their confines.

Cherice Bock said...

Yes, but Edwards also had a really beautiful view of the reason that God created, which was basically out of a desire for companionship, that creation is like a doubling of God's self, and that once all of God's infinite love and freedom is played out again in the universe, then it will be complete. I think that if Edwards had been born in another time and place, he wouldn't have gotten so stuck on the predestination stuff.

As for Fox, yes! His journal has brought hope to me as well, and to so many. But he was still human, and he made mistakes, even around the topic of power. I imagine it was challenging to get a bunch of headstrong, independent thinkers to keep moving in the same direction then, as now. I think he definitely went too far on that one. But the collective understanding of the way we view power in Friends tradition--and even in Fox's opinion himself--is that we receive power from the Holy Spirit, not just from choosing a particular person as a leader, or from going to Oxford or Cambridge and getting a position as a priest. So my overall point, I think, still holds. Although Fox may have abused his power at times and done things that were not Spirit-led, I don't think that negates the point I'm trying to make. I think at times like that, the rest of the movement would have the right and responsibility to question him about from whence his authority came in that moment, especially if it started being a pattern. We need leaders, but we also need to hold them accountable by also listening to the Spirit ourselves. Otherwise we can be led down an unhealthy path.

Cherice Bock said...

Howard Brod, thank you for your comments. I have attended many Friends meetings in different yearly meetings (FGC, FUM, EFCI, unaffiliated), and have found joy and fellowship in all of them.

You said that when we require interpretation of the Bible, we have made the Bible an idol. In my opinion, it is when we require a single "orthodox" interpretation of the Bible and do not allow space for dialogue, debate, and contextual interpretation that it becomes an idol. I'm not sure if your comment meant that you think reliance on the Bible in general makes it an idol, or if you meant that a particular interpretation made it idolatrous. The Bible helps us by giving a glimpse into a long history of how people have attempted to listen to God together across time. We may not agree with some of those people's interpretations (e.g., the people of Israel wiping out people in various cities as they took over the Promised Land), but it places us within a story of a people attempting to follow God. it gives us examples of what following God looks like, and, of course, it tells us about the life of Jesus. You may have a different opinion about how important this is, but to me, seeing myself and my tradition in this stream of story and meaning-making is important, and the Bible helps us stay focused on that. But the Bible can also be used to do incredible harm, so I could not agree more that we need to carefully guard against turning the Bible (or our personal interpretation of it ) into an idol.

Martin Kelley said...

Thanks for sharing both the sort of more theoretical observations and personal story. Both are helpful in different ways. I wish I could offer up more than prayers for both you and the communities trying to sort through this. I've felt in a limbo state for some time now; if anything the return to professional Quaker work a few years ago has made this more acute. Instead of being seen as an interesting marginal personality, I think others more see me as a holder of a specific Quaker role. Throughout it all, I just try to keep as faithful and transparent as I can to the position I've found myself. I'm glad to see you're still asking questions even of "your side" of the struggles. It seems like a good place to be.

Cherice Bock said...

Thanks, Martin! Yes, being in a particular leadership role seems to be something that can feel life-giving and constraining, possibly at the same time. I want to write about that at some point, too--it's been on my mind since taking a sociology of religion course in seminary, and I probably wrote about it here at some point, but especially after seeing what has happened with Obama, I think it's interesting to think about how much "power" there actually is in a leadership role. One has power to do the things the position is designed to do, but what if the position no longer fits the needs of the group? Or what if you have constituents (or readers or whatever) who want different things or hold different viewpoints? As a leader, you don't necessarily have the power to lead in the direction of your own preference. Oftentimes, in Quaker settings, it seems that taking on leadership roles actually constrains one's personal voice, so it's an act of sacrifice that shouldn't be taken lightly--and that not all are good at.

I appreciate your leadership with QuakerQuaker and Friends Journal! Thank you so much for helping orchestrate the Quaker voice online and in the world. It means a lot to me and I appreciate the sacrifice of your own voice that may come as a result. Your ministry is important and valued.

Joy said...

Cherice, May I share this statement (and your entire post)?"Oftentimes, in Quaker settings, it seems that taking on leadership roles actually constrains one's personal voice, so it's an act of sacrifice that shouldn't be taken lightly--and that not all are good at."

Thank you for this genuine post. I am not sure I agree that it is all about power but power issues may be part of the equation; I think we both agree it is more complex than that (and your overall writing suggests).

Cherice, I have told many people that your posts (Facebook) are one of the safest places I have ever been when sharing differing beliefs and feelings. You do an amazing job of promoting respect and equality among our differing voices. Thank you for that.

I am hopeful that our YM family is able to come to the table and listen to one another. One of our reps made a heartfelt plea that is mine as well, "Folks, I bring forth a plea: if we truly hope to see our yearly meeting unite even as we disagree, we (myself included) must, MUST, find a different way of talking with each and must stop talking ABOUT each other. This will require a humility and wisdom that is well beyond our years and a willingness to be vulnerable and even wrong that I have not yet practiced or seen. This will require leaning on the Holy Spirit in ways we didn't know we weren't already doing. I implore us to stop making assumptions, to stop using us/them language, even when it feels as if our limited language pushes us to do so. No one person has all the answers and sometimes we have wrong ones. This is why Quakers so clearly value the community voice over the individual. And remember that Jesus was right about everything he said but let the people execute him anyway. I beg you. I beg us all. We must search for the way forward that we do not, at the moment, understand and can not yet see" (K.C. 1/24/16).

Quaker Gardener said...

Cherice,

I so appreciate your thoughtful sharing. It is very timely for me as I was the rep from Camas Friends for NWYM Mid-Year Boards for the first time this past week-end. I had a sense that I needed to prepare, and now I've been working on processing what I witnessed and experienced. I, like others here, find your words resonate with my hope for our YM. Thanks for writing them and for continuing to grapple with all this. You are welcome to come to Camas for a little reprieve anytime!

Norma
(note new email--normaruth.silliman@gmail.com)

Cherice Bock said...

Joy, yes--feel free to share away! I am honored that you feel safe when sharing with me. And yes, I appreciated Krissi's comment, too.

Norma, thanks for the good work of being at mid-year boards. Since I'm not a rep and I don't know our new clerk well, I didn't feel clear to be there to make the decision. I was holding you all in prayer during that time, though, and received updates about how it went. While I didn't want to make this post about that decision since I wasn't there, I think it's another symptom of this same problem. I hope and pray he can provide leadership in helping us listen to the Spirit together in our meetings for worship for business. Thank you for extending the welcome to Camas! I love that community, and I also love my North Valley community, which has been very supportive of me and my ministry.

doreen dodgen-magee said...

as always, cherice, thank you! you, friend, speak my mind. i long for a wide table with plenty of space. thank you for your work in setting it...

Cherice Bock said...

Aw, thanks Doreen! You're always so good at setting that wide table, too, and I so appreciate that about you.

Quakers Philippines said...

Thank you for writing, Friend. You have enlightened us. Please keep writing.

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