Just got home from a weekend at Powell House in NY on "The Greatest of These is Love".  Like most of the weekends I spend at Powell House, I came away with a mini-revelation of how God is working in my life.  Being a bible believing disciple of Jesus I find these weekends with fellow Christ Centered Friends fill me with the Holy Spirit and energize me for another year of service at my Monthly Meeting and recently the YM as well.

This year my mini-revelation concerned how Love moves in my life and its dependence on relationships.  I was shown first that by making Jesus the center of my life His love flows through me.  Like a river it washes out the zigs and zags of my own character as it surges along the shoreline of my heart, the protection of which I have made a priority since 1978 when I added Proverbs 4:23 as a footnote to my letterhead.  How fast it flows through me depends, just like a river, on where I direct it.  When I am in relationship with people who are needier than I, it flows faster.  When all my relationships are with peers it flows slower.  (NOTE:  Being in relationship is not the same as supporting a "cause".  It's direct involvement in a person's life in one way or another- being vulnerable either emotionally, economically or physically.) 

Back in my civil engineering studies I was taught that the amount of water flowing through a section of a river (Q) was the product of the area of the section and the water's velocity.  The velocity was a product of gravity.  The steeper the drop off in the river bed the greater the velocity, which basically means that the greater the difference in elevation between the source of the river and the destination into which it feeds, the faster the water will flow.  Over time those areas of the river that are narrow and restrict the rivers flow are enlarged by the force of the flowing stream.

There are many parallels between nature's rivers and our condition. 

For starters, like a river, when I don't have relationships I act as a dam, holding back God's love from those who would naturally benefit from that of God in me.  

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith.

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Comment by Howard Brod on 11th mo. 26, 2015 at 7:46pm

Relationships are indeed a great spiritual gift, especially when we are able to have them with diverse people in a safe environment such as a faith community.  A challenge for all of us is to create an environment in our monthly meetings where Friends can nurture genuine relationships with one another as we grow together in the Spirit. Are Friends up to that challenge and willing to challenge all in your meeting to reach for this goal?

Growing together doesn't mean we will all view doctrinal positions the same; it doesn't mean we will all use the same spiritual language or labels when talking about God, and it doesn't mean we each will cherish the same spiritual reference material.  It means we will become One in the Spirit that sustains us all; we will see through the forms we each may use to the ultimate Presence within us; we will allow others to use spiritual language and labels they find meaningful to describe their deepest inner life and walk with the divine.  And we will discourse and share with each other honestly in order to fortify, anchor, and support each other in the divine Spirit that IS.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 11th mo. 27, 2015 at 12:24am

Um, I think I agree with you that we should recognize ~same Spirit at work in each of us, that we need not agree on religious language per se -- and yet I don't think a meeting of the minds can work between us if we can't work from the same axioms, such that the Soul of the universe is real.

And I really can't tell if we even agree on what the word 'real' means.

Practical consequence? We might be reduced to parallel play -- rather than 'growing together' in the Spirit. Even when we're using the same words we might not be talking about the same place with them.

All right, we don't need to agree like 'Little Birdies In The Nest' or nuthin like that, to gain insight from the friction between our differing minds. But more mutual understanding would make things feel warmer between us, if that could only happen...

Comment by James C Schultz on 11th mo. 27, 2015 at 10:51am

relationships bypass words.  Today's baseball teams are an example of how people who don't speak the same language can work together for a common goal.  I guess you have to find a common goal then establish a relationship.  The Question is do Quakers have a common goal?

Comment by Forrest Curo on 11th mo. 27, 2015 at 11:53am

I've had relationships that bypassed words... but then I'd have to backtrack to that last detour, where I'd find out that discrepancies on the idea-level made us utterly unsuitable matches for the relationship that had worked so well in all other respects...

So you need a common goal, agreement on the idea-level for that. Also rough agreement on the idea level as to how that goal can be effectively approached --

So if your model of how the world works is too far disjoint, you will trip over each other trying to accomplish the same thing.

Common "religious language", no. But you'd need to recognize a common referent.

I can say "dog" where someone else says "moose" -- and that's just fine until I find out that his concept of "moose" doesn't allow for a moose to be animate, or even capable of affecting anything in the world directly. Such religious phrases as "The Living God" imply sentience, a will of God's own,  plus other attributes associated with that nasty G-word that say, "This Something is stronger, more aware of what's going on, and wiser about what's needed than all my thoughts, emotions, physical perceptions... while 'Love' points only to one attribute, one which could go badly awry without the others.

Comment by Stephanie Stuckwisch on 11th mo. 29, 2015 at 10:56am

My recent experience has been that in our quest to find the underlying unity we end up avoiding the hard but necessary honest sharing of our differences. At our worst, we try to censor words that make us uncomfortable or dredge up old hurts. 

And as Forrest says (at least I think this is his point), we need to find the bone deep agreement that binds us. 

We need to accept people where they are. We need free, unfettered speaking from our own experience (thank you, James for your example in this post). We need to listen in tongues. We need to realize that no group, even Quakers, can be everything to everybody.

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