Friday, January 28, 2011

Quaker (Society of Friends) Daily Devotional For Friday, 28 January


Daily Devotional, by Stephen Travis Pope

On Feeling Connected

The following is a message that I wrote down last Spring; it seems particularly relevant in light of the present political situation in the world.

In order to center in Meeting, I often use a breathing meditation practice in which I focus on feeling the energy of the air as I inhale, and then hold my breath lightly for a moment to concentrate on the spread of that energy throughout my body. As I do this, I become aware that we all share the same air, that the energy in the air I breathe in came from somewhere, that this same energy is shared, that it is imparted to the air by plants and trees as well as by animals and people. I'm also aware that the energy is shared, even by people I think I don't think I like or agree with.

In our traditional representations of the spirit, we often envision it as coming from above, as in the tongues of fire pictures depicting the day of the Pentecost. We know, of course, that there is no "up" to the spirit, that it is everywhere and that it flows through everything, except sometimes our thoughts.

In a discussion on the nature of God a while ago in our Quaker spirituality reading group, one of our senior members became flustered by the intellectual approach we were taking, and blurted out, "You, you're, God is all around you. You're right in the middle of God!" I often remember the quote from St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians (ch. 13) (which is unfortunately only read at weddings these days), "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. [...] If I have all knowledge and all faith, so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing."

In our everyday dealings with people, one-to-one or group-to-group, if we are not aware of being filled with the spirit and motivated by love, we should stay home. All of creation is intimately connected, and all people are capable of being aware that they are filled with the spirit. The best statement I've seen recently that put this in perspective relative to the current climate, was a flag with the words "united we stand" and a photograph of the earth as seen from outer space.

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