the friend online
21 April 2006

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Kinship with animals
The preparation for celebrating the 200 years since the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in 1807 has been highlighted by Friends House Library and the Committee for Racial Equality
  • In reading the excellent book Bury the Chains by Adam Hochschild, it has struck me how similar these two campaigns are
  • No one wanted to know about abolishing slavery because it was all so useful economically and many jobs depended on it
  • Here were anti-abolitionists who believed that slaves w

    Ann Lewis & Frank Parkinson

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    Comments:

    Sarah Whittington, 20 May
    I have been drawn back to this piece by John Ward many times. It makes links and connections for me that I have known for years but not seen put into words quite so effectively before (or maybe I haven't been looking / listening in the right places) I have been reading some material about the 'Old Way' and the druidic traditions recently. This too seems to link seamlessly with these ideas - and particularly with my own strong feeling that what is right and real and true simply is what it is - whatever anyone chooses to call it. I would be very interested to talk with any other Wayfarers who have found John's ideas helpful and inspiring.


    John Ward, 25 April
    In The Friend of 21st April there is a short contribution from Frank Parkinson in which he suggests that "- -what time calls for is a refounding [of BYM], a bringing together of a rainbow coalition like the Seekers, drawn from all religions and from none, who desire to live in the presence of the divine and embark on the long path of discovering what this entails and how it is to
    be achieved."

    This short contribution excited me enormously. The reason why is because it put into words something which has been nagging at me for months. BYM has become a top-heavy edifice. That is in no-way a criticism of the wonderful work being carried out
    centrally by a faithful, enthusiastic and dedicated staff, supported by a wealth of talent and hard work in central committees. Rather, it is a recognition of an increasing burden imposed by
    legislation, coupled with a decreasing and ageing membership and a diminishing pool of talent. We are top heavy because of what is imposed on top of us, and we are, at the same time, crumbling at the base because of a diminishing conviction at the grass roots about what on earth we are.

    The idea which has been bubbling and rumbling away somewhere deep inside me - and which won't go away - is a vision of a people who have come to identify themsleves as Wayfarers - a people of the Way, if you like. This people has been swept up in a living river, a babbling stream, a rushing
    wind, or a sigh in the reeds. The Way is that which they have come to know - they may sense it within, but it is neither within nor without, being beyond the confines of space and time. In the
    old parlance, we would say this people is "Spirit led", but they will not use such terms; they will speak only of the Way, and the Way is That which Is, That of which we are all a part. The Way
    embodies love and selflessness, it feeds us with love, it takes us as we are, walks by our side and is within us, leads but does not impose.

    The Way is not a religion - it goes beyond all religions, and embraces Truth towards which the world's religions grope. The Way is everyone's way. It is a journey, and those who embark on it are drawn towards their fellow human beings as humble listeners - for there are few greater ways of expressing love than to put a fellow human being's message before one's own.

    But, at the same time, the people of the Way may find themsleves swept into proclaiming it - for it is for all people, the world over.

    Yet the Way is new, and, because it is new, it leaves behind all the old language of religion. Wayfarers do not speak of God, even though others may recognise them as being supremely a people of God. They do not speak of the Spirit, or the Light, even though others may recognise them as a people of the Light, and led by the Spirit. Their language is the language of everyday folk, and they recognise that they do not have the language to describe the Way. They do not take unto themselves labels, for labels are divisive. They are not theist or non-theist or atheist; they are not Christian, Christocentric or universalist (even though others may - or may not - see them as such). Nor are they Muslim nor Hindu. The Way transcends labels. Labels define and confine. The Way sets its followers free from all these things.

    For me, the Way is the natural development of Quakerism. Using the old parlance, Wayfarers are a deeply spiritual people. They meet together wherever and whenever they can, and they meet in silence. As in a Quaker meeting, there will be speech arising out of the silence. But a meeting of Wayfarers is not a meeting for worship; it is simply a meeting in the Way - like a crossroads where many paths meet at a single still point.

    I could go on. But this is a leading in embryo, and to go on would be to go beyond the leading.



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