I have been living in Africa for about three years, two of which were spent in a remote, rural area without electricity or running water. During that time, I channeled my isolation into meditative prayer and contemplation,  realizing unification with my environment. I read and reflected on important religious texts from George Fox to the Pendle Hill library. It was a time of great personal development.

 

I moved to the city in May, set on working at the next level of international development and strengthening professional skills to engage with issues/causes that I'm passionate about. The adjustment to the city has been rough, as I struggled to cope with the fast-pace, with the general unfriendliness of the city, and with living on a very limited income.

 

Despite the personal development cultivated in the village and despite brief moments of clarity (as in daily prayer), I find myself spiritually longing. I keep my ear and my heart open to the inner light but sometimes it's hard to hear the voice in the heart of the storm that is city life. I long for a spiritual community, for a meetinghouse, for the experiece of communal worship among Friends. There is one Quaker in the city but she is elderly and very busy, only occassionally free for a meeting. She has lived here for several decades and has tried to develop a Quaker community, and continues to, but her newspaper ads go unanswered.

 

I'm curious to hear about the experiences of other Friends who are currently in isolation or who have been in isolation from the community before. How did you cope? What were some of the daily routines that were helpful in developing or maintaining your spiritual identity? Is there any literature available and directed to isolated friends (especially literature available online)? Are there organizations or networks that link isolated friends?

 

Any general advice would be kindly appreciated.

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Well Ruben,

It seems I'm in a very similar situation, also in Africa. I know no Quakers here in Morocco, and very few Christians. I also have been reading tons of Pendle Hill, and making plans on how I'm going to live my life when I return to the United States. (It sounds like procrastination, but a lot of it is self-preservation.)

I looked into stuff at the Friends World Office, and they sent me a pamphlet, but pretty much I'm on my own. I go to the Protestant church once in a while, which is good for my heart, but does very little for my brain, as it's mostly just spiritual singing. My main Quaker community right now is Facebook.

I've uploaded what FWO sent me if it helps you. I realize that I don't really have that much advice. :(
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I am currently over 500 miles away from my home meeting. I am on the east coast, they are in the midwest. Much of what sustains me is a combination of the advice of a beloved elder early on in this part of the journey, a shift in perspective, and the occasional blessing of going "home." In this part of the country there are some lovely, caring people. But I have not found a meeting for worship that is like what I had become accustomed to.

The advice I received from the elder was to bring Christ wherever I go, and not expect anything from others. I have learned quite a bit about myself in this process. At a certain point, I let go, not of the longing, which I feel is from the Lord. I let go of seeking anything like my experiences elsewhere, and began to embrace the very real blessings that exist where I am right now.

So that is how I manage, if manage is the word. I have times of prayer, I read scripture, I correspond quite a bit with other isolated Friends and those in my home community. I enjoy the fellowship I have with a wide variety of people for what it is. And I relish times in a gathered meeting for worship.
If you haven't run across www.quakerfaithandfellowship.org you might want to explore this website which has a number of "isolated" Friends from a number of different countries. It contains a Forum and also connects to an "Online Meeting for Worship."
I am isolated too. QuakerQuaker helps me. So do regional Q gatherings, and connecting to people I know there via FAcebook and QQ. Recently I tried the online meeting for worship. Okay and a little odd were my first impressions. I also benefit from Quaker readings. And regular prayer.

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