Maine Young Friends Meetup, Saturday, October 24th 2-5pm

Mark your calendars! Teens from Southern Maine who are Quaker or curious about the Quaker way are getting together for an afternoon of fellowship and fun in person. 

We’ll meet outside at Durham Friends Meeting and spend time playing games, going for a short hike, and enjoying meaningful discussion with a small group of youth and staff. 

RSVP here and use that form to let us know your ideas for more things we could do together.

For more information, contact Maggie Nelson, Young Friends Events Organizer, at maggie@neym.org or at 978-382-1850.

Woman’s Society Report, September 21, 2020

Woman’s Society members gathered via Zoom on Monday, September 21, with seven in attendance. 

We shared prayer requests of our local and extended community and Nancy Marstaller shared a program based on John 15:12-17 — love one another, care for those near and far, and cultivate our internal mission field. This internal reflection is looking at our motivations for helping others.

We then discussed one of our most important outreach programs of bringing monthly meals to the Brunswick Tedford House. Many within and connected to the Meeting share in this task. 

The treasurer’s report listed donations to Good Shepherd, Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program, Kickapoo Friends Center in Oklahoma, and New Beginnings. Dorothy Curtis made and delivered baby quilts to Wendy Schlotterbeck for her granddaughter Eva and to Paul Miller for his grandchild. 

Our next meeting will be Monday, October 19, at 6:30 on Zoom. All women of the meeting are most welcome! — Blessings, Martha Hinshaw Sheldon

“My Rose, My Thorn and My Bud,” by Brown Lethem

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, September 27, 2020

Good morning Friends,

My heart is torn in two directions as I speak this morning, no actually three.  I want to share my rose and my thorn, as we used to say at the Addams/Melman house dinner table. We had four adults and two youngsters, so it was a way to draw everyone in as we talked of the days activities.  The rose was our joy for our day, the thorn our sorrow, and not to overlook the bud, that was our hope.

So my message today will have those three parts.

Linda spoke my mind last Sunday, as did Eden Grace previously, when they kept us focused on the urgency of racial justice at this time.  They also engaged the issue of reparations.  I believe the time is right and I join Linda in calling for our federal government to address it.

At the expense of spending six times more on military hardware than all the developed nations in the world, I hope we can find a way to afford reparations.  That hope is my bud for the future.

I want to speak next of my rose.  It is a positive and loving message to this meeting, especially as I am leaving soon to be with family in California.

I  came to this meeting after 45 years of attending silent, non-pastoral meetings, so I arrived with a stubborn mindset regarding worship as well as an abiding interest in activist peace and social concerns.     

What I found was a small but beloved community, truly devoted to Christ’s message of loving as the essential commandment.  I also found a vital vocal ministry coming from depths of experience. So I am thankful to Durham Meeting for accepting me into this community, and for helping me to grow with it’s loving concern for its children and it’s active sensitivity to those in need.

That said, I continued to be outspoken regarding my concerns for a deepening of silent, expectant waiting that I needed personally to center down.  I did find ways to make this happen.  Way opened, as we like to say.

My other concern was my leading to advocate for peacetime conversion of our local industry of weapon production, Bath Iron Works.  I did, with time feel supported in this leading. Again, my gratitude to Durham Friends.

On turning 88, I find the past does become more insistent. Reaching this age opens more awareness of the arc of my life and the culture which influenced it.  The two overriding or recurring threads in my life have been expressed most effective in my painting: they are (1) Human vulnerability to violence and the fear and distortion which arises from the enormous human potential for violent behavior.  (2) Racism, specifically, the racial incident which took place in my home town which haunted my imagination and profoundly  shaped my sensibility.

This paradox arises:  That my creative joy in the craft of painting was combined with an overriding need in its content to deal with the demons of a racist and violent society, that was acculturated into my subconscious.  That is my thorn.

The degree to which I was affected by hearsay accounts of the rape and murder of a young country school teacher in 1931 continued to permeate my subconscious until my 30’s and 40’s when it began to surface in my painting.  In my 60’s I tried to write a novel about it.  That it percolated all those years to become something of an obsession was evident.

It is the story of Raymond Gunn, a young black man growing up on the fringe of a small north western Missouri town and being accused of the crime.  It was my home town and the county seat, with a population of less the 10,000.  The town had maybe thirty black families.  The country school house in the incident was in a much smaller community five miles west, within the area where Raymond trapped.

As a young and very idealistic adolescent, the story confused me and I identified with the accused but untried young black man who was immolated by a mob.  Raymond’s fate kept cropping up in my painting as though it was a personal buried trauma.  I later learned how traumatized my mother was by the incident while I was in utero.  The lynch mob had spilled over on to our front yard with great noise and dust as Raymond was being dragged by rope to his death.  My mother emerged from the house searching frantically for my five year old brother playing outside.  That she developed some phobias around human violence as well as natural events like the flood of her childhood in Nebraska, is not surprising.  Nor is it surprising that I grew up with a guilty view connecting sex, violence and justice. The entire small town reacted immediately after the incident with massive paranoia and fear of reprisal.

My father was out of town working when Raymond way lynched.  The failure of the good town fathers to prevent the violence always puzzled me.  The threat of a violent mob was known.  The governor had anticipated it by ordering the local National Guard to stand by.  The local chain of command chose to stand down doing nothing.  The lone sheriff escorting Raymond to the court house for arraignment was over powered.  There were reports of instigators having come from other places.  The local papers reported that Raymond led the police to the murder weapon making the case against him.  That a fair trial would have changed the opinion was doubtful.  Raymond was, after all, an illiterate black trapper who lived in the shadows of the woods and creeks.  He had been raised an orphan by his uncle who lived in abject poverty, collecting trash with a mule and wagon.  Newspaper accounts called Raymond a moron.

All the blacks moved out of town overnight.

As a teenager raised in communities that were predominantly white, my contacts with people of color were few and charged with false stereotypes. The  inability to break through the surface to make real human contact with Afro-Americans continued until the age of 19 when I moved to New York.  I now realize how crippling that pervasive cultural racism was to my growth as a human being despite the mantle of white privillage, with it’s accompanying guilt.  I felt the frustrating sting of being quietly turned away when trying to bridge the gap to a Black high school classmate and  not understanding why he was so wary of me.  It took years living and working in Brooklyn, N.Y. in a neighborhood of predominately Black and Latino population and at close quarters to build intimate friendships and to fully understand the tragic divide created by the underlying “white supremacy”.  The irrational fears perpetuated by distorted White superiority, I later learned were coverups for the deeply buried economic injustices of slavery and genocide of Native Americans.  The resulting Jim Crow system keeping Blacks locked into a caste system of poverty just as the Indian laws did the Native Americans.  The institutional and systemic racism buried in my cultural background that has crippled countless thousands of Black and Brown children, has also wounded and impoverished my life.  James Baldwin was so right in his recognition that White people will never be free until equal justice is accorded all Americans.

Only now, sixty years after the civil rights movement,  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and affirmative action we are seeing the burst of wonderful artists of color, writers, intellectuals and politicians that were lost to previous generations. This is the time to openly admit to a national injustice  and debt to those who still suffer under the system of Jim Crow, Indian Policy, redlining, segregation and inferior education, health and housing opportunities.           

We now  see the relationship between the concept of restorative justice, Baldwin’s insights and Christ’s message.  A restorative justice that leads to forgiveness, reconciliation and ultimately to love, is the hope for an extended Beloved Community.  Christ led the way.

Passing of Mildred Alexander

Our longtime member Mildred Alexander passed from this life on September 18, 2020. Below is an obituary and notice of her services.

Mildred P. Alexander 89, a longtime resident of Pinkham Brook Rd. Durham died Friday September 18, at Mid Coast Senior Health, with her family at her side. She was born in Lisbon Falls a daughter of the late Louis and Annette (Boultbee) Dumas. She was educated in local schools.
Mildred married Andrew Alexander in January of 1949, and they spent many happy years together until he passed in 2009.
Mildred enjoyed her jigsaw puzzles her cats and most of all enjoyed time spent with her great grandchildren.
She is survived by her sister Laurette Chapman of Lewiston, four grandchildren: Thomas St.Germain of Durham, Carrie St.Germain of Lewiston, Angela Loucka of Tampa, FL and Johnell Ramos of Costa Rica, four great grandchildren and seven great-great grandchildren. She was predeceased a daughter Pauline (Alexander) Harvey in 2006 and three sisters, Annette Tibbets, Beverly Craig and Bernice Curtis.
The family would like to send a very big thank you to the entire staff at Mid Coast Senior Health for the exceptional care given to Mildred, especially in her last days.

You are invited to offer condolences and pay tribute to Mildred’s life by visiting her guest book at www.crosmanfuneralhome.com

Visitation Crosman Funeral Home Thursday 9/24 from 10-11:30 am, with a graveside service to follow at Pleasant View Cemetery at 12 Noon. Those wishing to make memorial donations in her memory may do so to Midcoast Humane Society 30 Range Rd, Brunswick, ME 04011.

Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, September 20, 2020

            Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends virtually convened via Zoom for the conduct of business on Sunday, September 20, 2020 with 18 people present.  Clerk, Martha Hinshaw Sheldon opened the meeting with two quotes from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice who recently passed away:

“Fight for the things that you care about but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

“Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” 

  1. The August minutes were approved.
  2. Ministry and Counsel:  Martha Sheldon reported that Amelia Mae Marstaller (Mimi), who has been a junior member of the meeting, was recommended by the Meeting on Ministry and Counsel for adult membership.  Friends enthusiastically approved the change to adult membership and look forward to seeing her via Zoom and in person in the future.
  3. Meeting Care Coordinator:  Mey Hasbrook reported that she has been meeting with her support committee, Clerks Committee, and Ministry and Counsel.  She now has the task of finding speakers.  She has been meeting members and attenders via Zoom in small groups. She has been especially busy with the transition to Maine and we expressed our support and understanding as she and her family make the move.
  4. Christian Education Committee: Wendy reported that the committee met September 9 via zoom.  They decided to continue nurturing relationships and connections with the Maine Native American history and community. They hope to collaborate with Heather Augustine’s Native American youth group. 

      Family game nights are on hold for now.  They discussed spiritual connections for the children and youth of our meeting. Virtual meetings have not been working for most of the families. Starting in October they will be organizing 2 events per month- both outside, wearing masks and keeping social distance. One will be focused on art and nature, the other including drums and music. Children and youth will be invited according to interest with mixed ages encouraged. 

      Halloween party: since masks are a natural part they will be having an outdoor Halloween Party at the meetinghouse with masks and social distance on FRIDAY, OCT 30. Everyone is invited- safe, social distance games will be available. And, a special incentive: each child or youth will be asked their favorite candy so they can make individual “COVID- safe” treat bags. Stay tuned for the time- likely late afternoon.

5. Youth Minister:  Wendy reported that she will continue checking in with Durham Friends families to get a sense of their needs.

             She will continue to participate in the Young Friends program of NEYM and will continue to help staff/offer help with upcoming Young Friends retreats. The next Young Friends retreat will be the weekend of Oct 2-4. Durham Young Friends are encouraged to participate!! See link- https://neym.org/online-retreat-registration

              Wendy will be researching and building a safe outdoor space at the Meeting House for gatherings including a fire pit, with approval from Trustees.

6. Treasurer: Katharine (Kitsie) Hildebrandt expressed appreciation for financial support of the meeting (checks are being received) during this time of our virtual meetings. 

      Kitsie reported that the current contract that she negotiated with Consolidated Communications for the phone and internet is a better rate than for the internet alone.        

7. The Trustees have been busy with many projects regarding the meeting property previously mentioned in the minutes, i.e., paint, hallway floors, and horse shed repairs.  Thank you, Tess for washing the fleece blankets in the meeting room, and airing bench cushions.  Contact Trustees for a detailed list of completed work and future projects. 

       The Trustees recommended a donation of $1000 from the Charity Fund to Andrew Higgins who has suffered injuries from a serious accident. 

8. We approved a donation of $1000 to Andrew Higgins from the Charity Fund.

9. Jo-an Jacobus thanked the meeting for the use of the meetinghouse for the Sunday night 12 step group as they resume meeting together when it is safe to physically gather.

10. Peace and Social Concerns Committee launched a discussion series on Becoming Antiracist on Sept. 15. Twelve attenders participated in a thoughtful discussion. The next discussion is on Oct. 6 and you can attend even if you did not attend the first one. If you have any feedback on the first discussion please share it with Ingrid.

       Ingrid has begun attending the Bath Brunswick Hub meetings of the Poor Peoples Campaign. She will cautiously look for ways Durham Meeting can be involved. The goals of the campaign are very aligned with Quaker values. If you are interested in learning more about the campaign there is a link to information on the Meeting website.

      The committee is losing Brown (Richard Lethem) as a member due to his moving away. He has been an active member for several years. They are looking for two new members to help take on the many peace and social concerns we all share.

11. Carbon footprint:   Kitsie Hildebrandt and Ingrid Chalufour reported that they are consulting with John Ruthe from Vassalboro Meeting regarding our effort to reduce our carbon footprint.

12. The Clerks Committee is working on updating our Handbook and will present a draft of their suggestions next month. 

Martha Sheldon closed the meeting expressing appreciation for those who have assumed various responsibilities.  She repeated the quote: “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time,” and said that as a community, we are taking steps toward change as we follow the Spirit’s guide.

Dorothy Hinshaw, Recording Clerk

“Reparation and the Reconciliation Process,” By Linda Muller

Message at Durham Friends Meeting, September 20, 2020

Friends please join me in exploring an emotional and important subject. As we seek understanding, we want to work from emotions other than fear, anger and defensiveness. I say this because of my own experience, upon initially hearing of reparations I was overwhelmed, even angry!  How can I possibly restore, repair or repay for wrongs committed deep in the past.If reparation is cash payment from individuals, then I must tell you that all in my possession is nowhere near enough. Besides, how does it help the injured if I am penniless?

So, there is my defensiveness!

Another fundamental concern for me is this; I am set against the injustice and oppression occurring RIGHT NOW!As this has intensified lately, my feelings of; frustration, fear and anger at my own lack of effectiveness loom.

NEVER THE LESS, there is work to be done!

One way forward in the reconciliation process starts with getting HISTORY more accurate. It is essential to start this  process. As Eden Grace shared last week; It is part of the work that white people have to do, and can be done on the  personal level.  Active remembering and telling ALL the story, including how the engineering for longterm inequality occurred. This is how we become ANTIRACISTS and find our way to APOLOGY. Apology frees our hearts, bringing-up courage and creativity.

Since our US history includes severe inequality, perpetrated to keep black, indigenous and brown people  impoverished and powerless, AMENDS must include deep policy change. At the tip of this iceberg we can see economic and racial injustice in; healthcare, ecology, agriculture, housing, finance, government, education and all  access to resources. These aspects of life are still deeply permeated and injustice will only give way through courageous  action. This action attended by longterm commitment to work together;  white, black, brown and indigenous, is needed.

To repair our relationships, white people must PERSIST, despite the inevitable resistance of the upper 10%, the top 1%. The AMENDS and REPARATION that will bring RECONCILIATION will have to take into account;

1) The labor RIP-OFF of enslaved African Americans and the further engineering to prevent wealth, choice and security for people of color .

2) The land RIP-OFF and violent cultural erasure  visited on the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

One way to move forward with REPARATION is to explore what would be best to do first, what would be effective and fitting to do at the Federal government level. That is the purpose of HR40, a bill in the US House of Representatives. It is “stuck” and needs people power to “unstick” it.

Another essential motion must take root in our hearts and minds. We must quiet our defensiveness and have the HUMILITY to seek spiritual guidance. We must dredge up the energy and courage to commit to this work longterm.

This is what is ahead of us if we want to reach real RECONCILIATION, peace and the joy known when justice prevails.

The Poor People’s Jubilee Platform: A Moral Policy Agenda to Heal and Transform America:

From Peace and Social Concerns Committee:

The Poor People’s Campaign is now launching a Moral Policy Agenda to Heal and Transform America: The Poor People’s Jubilee Platform. This platform proclaims that moral policy is also economically sound policy, because the 140 million are not only the hope of the poor. The least of these, who are, in actuality, most of us, can lead this country out of the pain we have been suffering. The rejected are leading a moral and economic revival to save the heart and soul of this nation. Forward together, not one step back!

The Platform is grounded in five principles:

  1. We need a moral revolution of values to repair the breach in our society. This platform abides by our deepest Constitutional and moral commitments to justice. Where harm has been done, it must be acknowledged and undone.
  2. Everybody in, nobody out. Too many people are hurting and we can’t be silent anymore. Everybody is deserving of our nation’s abundance.
  3. When you lift from the bottom, everybody rises. Instead of “trickle-down,” we start with the bottom up.
  4. Prioritize the leadership of the poor, low-income and most impacted. Those who are on the frontlines of these crises must also be in the lead in identifying their solutions.
  5. Debts that cannot be paid must be relieved. We demand freedom from servicing the debts we cannot pay.

For more on the Jubilee Platform, go here.

Verses from the Book of Ruth (Bader Ginsburg)

[From Worship this morning at Durham Friends] At our house we’re mourning the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a slight woman but a warrior for justice, for equality, for the rule of law.  She was someone who won some important victories, and also someone who spoke up forthrightly when she was on the losing side.  So this morning, a few verses from the Book of Ruth:

1. “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”

2. “So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.”

3. “Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.”

4. “When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out.”

5. “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

6. “You can’t have it all, all at once.”

7. “I’m a very strong believer in listening and learning from others.”

8. “In the course of a marriage, one accommodates the other”

9. “In every good marriage, it helps sometimes to be a little deaf.”

10. “A gender line…helps to keep women not on a pedestal, but in a cage.”

11. “If you want to be a true professional, do something outside yourself.”

12. “Reading is the key that opens doors to many good things in life. Reading shaped my dreams, and more reading helped me make my dreams come true.”

13. “Don’t be distracted by emotions like anger, envy, resentment. These just zap energy and waste time.”

14. “You can disagree without being disagreeable.”

15. “If you have a caring life partner, you help the other person when that person needs it. I had a life partner who thought my work was as important as his, and I think that made all the difference for me.”

16. “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”

17. “I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability.”

Source: https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/17-powerfully-inspiring-quotes-from-ruth-bader-ginsburg.html

Durham Women’s Christmas Meeting in 1988

By Twila Greene, August 2, 2020

It’s been a lonely season and I hunger for my friends,

And I find my thoughts reverting to the past.

For last night I took a journey, that gave my soul delight,

As I walked across an old familiar path.

Elated, I surveyed the scene that was in front of me,

For all my Friends were gathered there in peaceful harmony.

All the women of the group were gathered in the Meeting,

Together for our fellowship, with pleasure in our greeting.

Bee was sitting by the bookcase, with Margaret in the loop,

Sue Wood suggested one to use for our discussion group.

She had read it and it touched her heart,

It would benefit all if we read it from the start.

Lida, Eileen and Sylvia were putting out the dishes,

With lots of festive goodies that all looked so delicious.

Dorothy, Mary and Charlotte Ann were in the kitchen with the food.

Something from the oven was smelling mighty good.

Dotty, Susan and Norma were in the Nursery Extension,

Reading to some little ones too numerous to mention.

This was the winter of ’88 with lots of little tots,

To love and teach and sing to them the joyous Meeting thoughts.

Nancy, Linda and Charlotte were decorating the tree,

With homemade socks and mittens for those who were in need.

Clarabel was trying to peacefully end a squabble

Syretha and Tess vied for the privilege to hang the treetop bauble.

Kitsie and Muriel were leading in devotions,

Giving us things to ponder and asking for our notions.

Elizabeth and Mabel were engaging in a chat,

Remembering all the old times and discussing this and that.

Dorothy Henton and Ruth Graham and also Del Weed,

Were inviting Helen Clarkson to join them for the feed.

Mildred had come early to make coffee and fruit punch,

Such were the events that made our Christmas lunch.

Everyone was gathered in contentment and accord,

Lunch was ready and everyone paused to thank the Lord.

Dorothy, from the Henton House, insisted on saying grace,

And a happy smile was seen to come on to Gracie’s face.

After gifts were open and we all had had our fill,

Sukie had a gift for us which was our closing thrill.

She had brought her harp with her, we all joined voice in song

I’m sure the angels joined with us in singing right along.

Such a pleasant time I spent with all the women there,

I woke up then refreshed and joyous music filled the ‘air,’

What a joy and gift I found in reliving that delight,

All was so realistic as I pondered on that night.

That was such a pleasure, a joy that was all mine,

Such a glorious meeting, such a glimpse of Love divine.

What I wouldn’t give if I could visit just once more,

And share that joy of entering through that meeting door.

I sure do miss those days and all the women that were once involved. Wish we lived closer, so I could continue in worship and get to know the newer members. When this pandemic is over I hope to visit. Durham is my heart’s home. Love to all, Twila

Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, August 16, 2020

Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends virtually convened via Zoom for the conduct of business on Sunday, July 19, 2020, with 14 people present. Martha Sheldon shared a quote from Howard Thurman: “There is something in every one of you that wants and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself.  It is the only true guide you will ever have.”

1. The July minutes were approved with one correction: the title of Angie Thomas’s book should read, The Hate U Give in minute no. 6.

2. Sarah Sprogell reported that the Clearness Committee for Ingrid Chalufour’s request for membership felt united in recommending approval of her request.

3. We enthusiastically approved the membership of Ingrid Chalufour and welcomed her as an official member of Durham Friends Meeting.

4. Sarah Sprogell reported for Falmouth Quarterly Meeting which met on July 25, 2020. “Sixteen Friends met by Zoom to share and reflect on experiences of caring for our communities during this time of pandemic restrictions. We found the spirit moving among us as we listened and joined in worship sharing, as each monthly meeting spoke to its condition. We intend to meet again on October 24 for business and a review of our budget. 

             “As a follow-up, a small group of Friends agreed to serve on a Care Committee for Windham Meeting, and will convene on August 18 to begin listening and discerning with Windham Friends regarding their concerns for their future as their numbers grow smaller.”

              We are asked to hold Windham Friends Meeting members in prayer as they consider the future of the meeting.

5.  Sarah Sprogell, auditor, reported that the audit for 2019 is complete, and that significant financial events for the meeting in 2019 were: the receipt of a bequest of approximately $32,000 from the estate of long-time member Janet Douglas (ten percent of the bequest was placed in our Charity Account and the balance was placed in our Capital Account); completed the management and final distribution of funds to support the Greene family, which we carried out on behalf of New England Yearly Meeting; and we received reimbursement for reserve funds that had been approved to help renovate a member’s condo in preparation for its sale.

            In June we transferred our Charity, Capital and Bernice Douglas Funds from savings type accounts to money market accounts which earn more interest and have check-writing capabilities. We also moved the Woodbury Fund and our operational reserve account to two 18-month CD accounts at a promotional interest rate. In October the meeting approved transferring the balances from the Cox and Bailey Funds into the Charity Account; both of these funds were unrestricted and had been unused for a number of years.

            A new hot water heater was purchased for the parsonage in December.

            An audit of the operating records shows that this information, as well as bank statements and related documentation, continue to be well-documented, organized and readily accessible for review.

            Many thanks go to our treasurer who does an excellent job of managing our financial responsibilities and accounts, a knowledgeable and faithful steward of the meetings finances.

We expressed appreciation for Sarah as auditor.

6. Christian Education/Youth Minister: Wendy Schlotterbeck reported that the committee did not meet in August. Wendy participated in the Religious Education discussion at NEYM on August 8 and two sessions of the global Quaker Religious Education Collaborative this past weekend (Aug. 14-16) with participants from three continents. It was especially rich to hear from Friends in Bolivia, El Salvador and Kenya.

            Wendy will be contacting families to offer various possibilities for connections and spiritual formation for Durham Friends children and youth in the coming year.

            Our Durham Friends Game Night August 15 was attended by four valiant Friends and they had a lot of fun. They may offer the Trivia Game at our picnic on August 29. More questions can be submitted for this event!

7. Peace and Social Concerns: Ingrid Chalufour sent a report from the committee. A 5 ´ 3 foot Black Lives Matter banner has been ordered to hang between posts on the horse shed. If you have experience hanging banners and are willing to help, please let Ingrid know.

            The Bangor Daily News was the only paper to publish our letter-to-the-editor and they removed the Durham Meeting signature and replaced it with Ingrid’s name. Next time the committee will embed the Meeting name in the text.

            They hope that you are all picking out readings on racism and planning to participate in their upcoming discussion series. Topics, dates, and times for the Zoom discussions will be in the next [i.e. this] newsletter.

            If you have additional ideas on how we might respond to the “peace & social concerns” of the day, please let them know.

            Wendy Schlotterbeck announced that she has racial justice posters available for use.

8.  Trustees: Donna Hutchins sent a report.  The flooring in the back hall was replaced and the flooring in the front entry was refinished in the meetinghouse. A door was replaced, and posts and doors were painted on the horse shed. They removed pillars and a dead tree at entrance of the cemetery. They are moving a sand pile to the green burial area to make a separate parking area, and designing a new fence.  We expressed our appreciation for Donna’s thoughtful work as trustee.

9. We were sad to hear that Andrew Higgins, who does our plowing and mowing, has had a serious accident which crushed and injured his legs. He has had 10 surgeries, and three weeks in the hospital, and all this alone due to the COVID restrictions. He awaits skin graft surgeries. Friends of his family have set up a “Go Fund Me” page for him, with a goal of raising $20,000 to help cover medical bills and other costs associated with the accident. The meeting was asked to make a contribution to the family of $500 to $1,000 from the Charity Fund. The suggestion will be referred to Trustees for consideration, with a recommendation coming back to Meeting for Business in September. 

            An unusual ending to our meeting occurred when all wished Edwin Hinshaw a happy 86th birthday. 

                                                                                    Dorothy Hinshaw, Recording Clerk 

“Telling the Truth About Whiteness,” by Eden Grace (Director of Global Ministries, Friends United Meeting)

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, September 6, 2020

Scripture: John 8:31-33: 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

Thank you for inviting me to worship with you this morning. I’m joining you from our family home in Ocean Park Maine, but I normally worship with West Richmond Friends in Richmond Indiana. In this time of Zoom, it seems a particular blessing that we can gather from wherever we are, and experience the bonds of the body of Christ across the distance.

I had perhaps my first real and acute awareness of my own whiteness at the 1998 Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Harare Zimbabwe, an experience of the emptiness at the heart of white American identity. During the three-day pre-assembly gathering of the youth delegates, there was the “cultural night”, which I now know to be a tradition at WCC youth events. Each delegate is invited to wear the beautiful clothing of their cultural identity and to share a song, dance or other cultural expression that represents their belonging to a particular cultural group.

The youth were instructed to gather in country-groups to organize their offerings, so all of us from the United States gathered in our assigned room. Quite quickly, the Native American delegates formed their own group and went off to plan their part of the program. The African-American delegates did the same. The Latinex. The Asian-Americans. Until finally there were about 5 or 6 of us white Americans left in that room. We were lost. None of us had any idea what our “culture” was. Do we try to represent MacDonald’s and Walmart on that stage? Wear blue jeans and t-shirts as our national costume? Who, even, are we, this group without a hyphen, without a particularity, without any self-knowledge of our ancestors’ particularity? We were the “norm” against which all others were hyphenated, but there was no “there” there. Just a sense of emptiness and loss. I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach.

In the end, we decided to sing “Simple Gifts”, thereby co-opting a culture that we were not – Shaker – in perhaps the most unironic and unaware meta-representation of ourselves as white American master co-opters and erasers of particularity. I left that event with a deep sense of the hollow anguish of whiteness, which has stayed with me ever since. So much has been lost in the grand bargain that provides me with white privilege in exchange for any sense of story and identity.

That was my first moment of self-aware exploration of the meaning of being a white American, and it has sent me on a decades-long personal quest to understand how whiteness functions.

So it took me by surprise when, in early August at New England Yearly Meeting, I was swept up with a completely new question about my own white identity. Why had it never occurred to me before? I don’t know. But now that I’ve had this idea, I my mind is exploding like fireworks with it.

This new idea, this new question that has gripped me, is to learn the particular story of my slaveholding ancestors. I’ve always known that I was descended from Virginia plantation-owning aristocracy. I’ve always known that they were enslavers. And in my childhood there was even a certain kind of classist “pride” in being descended from such high-status people. (Lord, forgive me.)

Who were these people, my people? In the just-concluded AFSC course on racism, which maybe some of you participated in as well, we learned about the process of white identity development. We learned that one of the stages of becoming a white anti-racist is to research our family history, to reclaim our identity story. To make whiteness a conscious, rather than invisible, aspect of our personal story. Not just the vacant norm against which others are hyphenated, but a self-knowing story.

Who were these people, my people? Where, specifically, did they own plantation land? Which indigenous people were displaced so that they could occupy that land? How many slaves did they “own”? Who were those enslaved people and how did they come to be under my family’s control? How much wealth was created, and passed down to me, through the exploitation of those enslaved people? Do I have distant dark-skinned cousins as a result of rape committed by my ancestors? What do I do with that information, when I find it? How does it become part of my story, my particularity? What responsibility do I have, to apologize, to atone, to make amends, for the sins of my ancestors?

The Bible seems to say contradictory things about whether the sins of the fathers are a responsibility of the sons (or daughters). Ezekiel 18:20 says “A child shall not suffer for the iniquity of a parent”, but in Exodus 34:7, God says that he will “visit the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” None of us want to be held responsible for something we didn’t personally do, but I think we can also understand the concept of collective responsibility, especially when we have inherited wealth and privileges derived from the sinful acts of those who came before us. I feel under the weight of this knowledge, as a moral burden.

But at this point, I don’t even know enough to name the specific sins of my ancestors. I can’t jump to taking responsibility and making amends, when I don’t yet know what I’m atoning for. I have to do the work, to learn the Truth, to uncover the stories, to find the details. Will knowing the Truth set me free?

Jesus said “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” And they answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

Seriously?? “We’ve never been enslaved to anyone?” Have they completely forgotten that they were slaves in Egypt? They have so erased their own story that they have no conception of the moral plumbline of what it means to be Children of God, offspring of Abraham? Their hypocrisy is rooted in their utter forgetting of who they are.

The fact that they went immediately to the implication of slavery says something about the word Jesus used that we translate “free”. Perhaps liberate or emancipate would be a more specific English translation? We are enslaved by the untrue stories we tell, by the “whitewashing” of our history. In the case of the story of whiteness, we are enslaved by the negation, the “white space” of the story. It takes active forgetting and erasure to manufacture an identity of whiteness.

I’m only just beginning to uncover the stories of my ancestors, but already it is fascinating and provoking so many questions! I stumbled upon the fact that my mother is a first cousin of Robert E Lee, and that the future Confederate General lived with, and was educated by, his aunt and uncle, my great great great great great grandparents, at Eastern View Plantation in Fauquier County, Virginia, from the ages of 7 to 13. My ancestor John Carter established the very first slave plantation in Virginia, in 1613. My 1st cousin 7 times removed, Robert Carter III, emancipated his 500 slaves in 1791 under religious conviction, having converted to Swedenborgianism. My second cousin seven times removed, James Robinson, was the child of my slaveholder ancestor and a black woman. He became the richest black man in America, and built a home he called Bull Run, where two Civil War battles were fought literally in his front yard.

I didn’t know any of these people’s names until this last month, but I wasn’t completely unaware of my family’s “status”. I was raised with stories (maybe not as specific as stories, but more like the air I breath) that conveyed a sense of pride at being descended from this class of people. As the Book of Hebrews says, we are surrounded by a “cloud of witnesses” – those who came before us bear witness to us, with who they were, about who we are. What if they are not such a benevolent cloud? What if it feels more like smog?

It takes active forgetting and erasure to manufacture an identity of whiteness, and it will take active remembering to resist the inheritance of white supremacy. Resistance requires telling the stories, uncovering the silenced narratives and speaking them out, not just the stories of heroism and justice-making, but also the stories of sinful actions and misguided beliefs.

My mother clearly remembers her mother saying, with warmth and pride, that “the slaves loved our family.” This echoes, of course, the widespread myths that many aristocratic plantation families treated their slaves humanely, that slaves were happy in their condition, that there was genuine affection and even love between enslaved and enslaver, and that the cruelty exhibited by some slave owners was an aberrant exception to an otherwise bucolic situation of mutual contentment. The persistence of these myths attest to the skills of enslaved people in masking their true feelings, for the sake of their own and their family’s safety. The fact that my grandmother’s cherished self-image as the daughter of the beloved master was founded on utter rubbish was actually quite apparent to my mother, even as a young child, although she couldn’t at that time put words to the unease she felt with the received narrative of her family. She could only grasp that this version of whiteness was founded on a profound lie.

I wanted to be able to speak in this message about apologizing for the sins of our ancestors, about healing and making amends and offering reparations. I wanted to give Biblical direction on how this could happen, and what it would mean for me, and maybe for you too.

I have some experience with the power of an apology for collective sin, since I received a gut-compelling leading to offer an apology on the floor of New England Yearly Meeting in 2011, an apology to LGBT Friends on behalf of Christians, apologizing for the harm caused by homophobic theologies, policies and biblical interpretations. The experience of offering that apology was profound, and will stand as one of the moments in my life in which I felt most connected to the power of God, the power to repair that which has been broken.

So I find myself now yearning for a similar sense of leading in relation to the harm caused by my family’s participation in slavery. And I wanted to have clarity about that for you today. But I have to admit that I’m not there yet. I don’t know yet what that will mean, for me. What it will cost, not just in terms of money and words, but in terms of risk and reorientation. I can’t intellectualize it, and I certainly can’t preach it, until I’ve discovered how to live it. So, in order to stay within the integrity of what has been given to me experientially, I think at this point all I can reflect on is the importance of uncovering our ancestor stories and grappling with them. I can’t yet talk about how healing or apologizing or making amends or reparations will take shape for me.

But surely, truth-telling is a necessary step in the process of making amends. Unearthing the truth, especially when it has been purposefully forgotten or whitewashed, can in itself be a liberating task. As I scour the internet for information about my own ancestors, and rush into the other room to tell my family what I’m finding, I feel the magnetic compulsion toward the Truth. And I continue to believe that the Truth will set me on a path to freedom from white supremacy, for Jesus promised that “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Becoming Anti-Racist, A Discussion Series

An Invitation from Peace and Social Concerns

In Ibram X. Kendi’s book, How to be an Antiracist, he says, “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equality and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” Join the Peace and Social Concerns Committee in an examination of racist ideas and policies with a goal of moving our thinking and actions toward an antiracist future.

Meet with us on Zoom on the following Tuesdays at 7:00:

September 15 – Where are you in your journey toward antiracism? What are you reading and thinking about? Where do you see, through reading or lived experience, racism in our society and our communities? Have you had new insights into the way systemic racism has played out in our country?

Readings: Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Case for Reparations, The Atlantic, June 2014. Nikole Hannah-Jones, What Is OwedNYTimes, June 26, 2020.  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Danger of a Single Story (TED Talk). Leonard Pitts, The Appraisal of How Little a Black Life Is Worth Begins at Birth

October 6 – Where do we see change happening? What do you understand about making change happen? Can attitudes and beliefs be changed or is policy the route to change? Does changed policy lead to changed attitudes and beliefs?

Readings: Zona Douthit, OK, Boomer, It’s Time To Fund ReparationsFriends Journal, September 1, 2020. Parker Palmer, The Broken Open HeartWeavings, March/April 2009.  

October 27 – Where are you feeling called to act? What is your leading at this time? Do you feel complicit? How? What would lead you being more antiracist?

Readings: Catherine Besteman and Joseph N. Jackson, Maine Voices: Want to help remedy racial inequity in Maine? Here are places to start, Portland Press Herald, June 13, 2020. Bill Brown, What Do Quakers Owe Blacks? Tools for Racial Justice, July 2002.

November 17 – Hold the date for a possible follow-up discussion

**Please prepare for the first discussion by reading one or both of the double-starred articles on the list below. Both are available on the Durham Meeting website. We recommend other readings in addition (see list below), particularly Ibram X. Kendi’s book.

  •  *How to be an Anti-Racist, by Ibram X. Kendi
  • The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
  • So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo
  • White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo
  • The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson
  • Cast: The Origins of Our Discontents, by Isabel Wilkerson
  • Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Me and White Supremacy, by Layla F. Saad
  • The Color of Law, by Richard Rothsein
  • Waking Up White, Debby Irving
  • The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
  • The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin
  • **The Case for Reparations, by Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic Monthly 6/2014
  • **What is Owed, by Nikole Hannah-Jones in the New York Times Magazine 6/24/2020
  • America’s Enduring Cast System, in the New York Times Magazine 7/1/2020

Links to other readings are on the Peace and Social Concerns page of the Durham Friends Meeting website.)

“A Strong Foundation,” by Max Carter

Max Carter, of New Garden Friends Meeting in North Carolina gave the message at Durham Friends Meeting on August 23, 2020. His text was Matthew 7:24-27:

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise person who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish person who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

An audio recording of his message is here.

The message made frequent references to the Quaker Meetinghouse in Ramallah, Palestine, built of limestone (and on a sturdy foundation) in 1910 through the efforts of a Quaker couple from Maine, Timothy and Anna Hussey. The Meetinghouse was restored in 2005.

The Quaker Meetinghouse in Ramallah, Palestine

“Preyed Upon and Prayed For,” by Leslie Manning

A Message at Durham Friends Meeting, August 16, 2020

Leslie Manning began with a query and a thought:

I. “Do you respect that of God in everyone though it may be expressed in unfamiliar ways or be difficult to discern? Each of us has a particular experience of God and each must find the way to be true to it. When words are strange or disturbing to you, try to sense where they come from and what has nourished the lives of others. Listen patiently and seek the truth which other people’s opinions may contain for you. Avoid hurtful criticism and provocative language. Do not allow the strength of your convictions to betray you into making statements or allegations that are unfair or untrue. Think it possible that you may be mistaken.” Britain YM Queries and Advices

II. Trauma constricts our vision and breathing, interrupts our compassion and restricts our ability to give and receive trust. It leaves us unable to open to the promptings of love, for our selves, our neighbors, our enemies or the Divine. Trauma robs us of joy.

Leslie invited us into a guided meditation, in which we each were asked to see ourselves, and then to see ourselves “just as we are” as a baby. We were asked to see this baby cradled in someone’s arms, tenderly. And we were asked to imagine saying these words:

“Just give me this:

A rinsing out, a cleansing free of all my smaller strivings

So I can be the class act God intended,

True to my purpose,

All my energy aligned behind my deepest intention.

And just this:

A quieting down, a clearing away of internal ruckus,

So I can hear the huge stillness in my heart and feel

How I pulse with all creation,

Part and parcel of Your great singing ocean.”

This guided meditation is from Belleruth Naparstek, a social worker and educator who specializes in working with trauma, and has created a series of guided imagery.  Her program of healing is called Healthjourneys and is widely used in hospitals, some prisons and jails and among refugees.

“NEYM Sessions: An Apology to Native Americans,” by Martha Hinshaw Sheldon

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, August 9, 2020

“Each year, hundreds of Quakers from across New England and beyond join together for worship, fellowship and seeking how God will guide us in meeting for business.  Having first gathered in 1661, in 2020 New England Yearly Meeting of Friends celebrated 360 years of journeying together as a community of faith and witness. 

Annual sessions provided many opportunities to connect with Friends old and new: vibrant youth programs, adult small groups for interpersonal connection, encouragement, and spiritual exploration, discernment of how Quakers in New England are led by the Spirit to act and serve, and guest speakers offering explorations of the Bible and sharing ministry responding to our condition and the challenges of our times.”  New England Yearly Meeting Web site.    

We gathered over zoom to share ideas, to share stories, to share an apology, to encourage breathing, to be invited, by Amanda Kemp, to move into the heart when facing racial injustices and move toward restoration, to learn of the interrelationship of ecology and theology with Cherice Bock.

Amanda is the bestselling author of ‘Stop Being Afraid! 5 Steps to Transform your Conversations about Racism’, and ‘Say the Wrong Thing’, a collection of personal essays about racial justice and compassion.  

Cherice Bock is adjunct professor of ecotheology at George Fox University and Portland Seminary, and she works as the Creation Justice Advocate at Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon.  A recorded Quaker minister, Bock sees environmental concerns as one of this generation’s most important social justice issues.  Her academic work focuses on nonviolent theology, Quakerism, contextual theologies, feminism, environmental justice, and ecotheology. 

There was a greater intensity this year.  There was greater intentionality.  Business meetings were devoid of the usual reports with the aim of focusing on racial justice and ecological restoration.  Another enriching element this year was the presence of a group called ‘Noticing Patterns of Oppression’.  Yearly meeting being intentional about noticing how those who have benefit from privilege may unknowingly speak and act in ways that oppress and ignore.  This was the second year for this group to offer their observations and help some become more aware of how their words can imply a sense of other, disregarding, self/cultural centrist perspectives.  Eye opening for those of us who need help in seeing, understanding how words impact others.  

Minutes and letters were presented.  Discussions engaged.  Challenges presented.  Encouragement given.  Minds opened.  Hearts softened.  Souls led. 

To do, to walk, to grow, to learn new language, to envision a world of inclusivity of the oppressed, of earth of life and health.  Two statements came out of the work of YM sessions.  NEYM Apology to Native Americans, and Call to Urgent, Loving Action for the Earth and Her Inhabitants.  Both will be sent out to Monthly Meetings to ponder and reflect upon in the coming year. 

This morning I want to share with you the apology for us to begin that process. 

In the silence that follows ponder:

  • How this letter affects my thinking, my heart, my leadings, my understanding of my journey with others. Others of the past and present. 
  • What do I know? What do I feel?  What do I think?   
  • What is my story? What is the story I want to create?  What do I need to learn? 

Do not let your guilt or defensiveness lead your response but your hope and leadings for a restorative future.

At yesterday’s last Bible half hour Cherice Bock invited us to understand ourselves as fractals of hope, embodying our part in the unfolding of Love, in relationship with and throughout Creation.  May this influence how we hear the letter. 

NEYM Apology to Native Americans 

To the Algonquian peoples of the Northeast who continue among us: the Abenaki, Mahican, Maliseet, Massachusett, Mi’kmaq, Mohegan, Narragansett. Nipmuck, Passamaquoddy, Pennaook, Penobscot, Pequot, Pocumtuc, Quinnipiac, Tunzis, and Wampanoag,

Apology

As participants in European colonization and as continuing beneficiaries of that colonization, Quakers have participated in a great and continuing injustice. For too long and in too many ways, we as a faith community have failed to honor that of God in you, the original peoples of these lands, and in doing so betrayed that of God in ourselves. We are deeply sorry for the suffering we caused in the past and continue to cause in the present. Today we acknowledge that injustice and apologize. 

We acknowledge that Quakers participated in and benefited greatly from the colonization effort which stole your land and displaced your ancestors and caused genocide and sought cultural erasure. We know that the injustice of displacement and disrespect continues. We also see the ways that we continue to benefit from broken treaties and genocidal policies. We have much work to do to attain right relationship.

We are sorry for our advocacy of the “Indian Industrial Boarding Schools,” which we now recognize was done with spiritual and cultural arrogance. Quakers were among the strongest promoters of this policy and managed over 30 schools for Indian children, mostly boarding schools, during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We are deeply sorry for our part in the vast suffering caused by this system and its effects.

On behalf of New England Quakers, in particular those of us with European ancestry, we offer this apology. We commit to continuing our efforts to learn, to see more clearly the implications of settler colonialism in our own lives, and to work toward right relationship. We hold ourselves open to suggestions and to dialogue, holding no expectations of you. We will continue to pray for guidance and to seek divine assistance in the transformation we know is needed within each of us, and in the world.

A Call for Us to Act  

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends acknowledges that we have much work to do to enter into right relationship with Native Peoples and with all of Creation. To that end, we urge each of our monthly meetings to undertake the following: 

• Determine the identity of the Native occupants of the region in which their Meeting House rests and acknowledge that with a plaque. 

• Work within the meeting to raise awareness of the history of settler colonialism and our debt to Native Americans. 

• Follow the lead of Native Americans and support their efforts toward social and environmental justice, including preserving the integrity of their lands in the face of ongoing resource extraction, recognizing that theft of Native American land is not just a matter of history; it is happening today. 

• Support state and federal recognition of the status of tribes as acknowledged sovereign nations entitled to self-government and reparations. 

• Explore the implications for the meeting of restitution of lands unlawfully taken from Native Americans in violation of treaties. Once clear on what it would actually require of the meeting itself, support efforts by Native Americans to reclaim control of their sacred and culturally significant lands, including the restitution of lands unlawfully taken from them in violation of treaties.

Friends are encouraged to apply to the Legacy Gift Committee for funds to support their spiritual leadings in response to the above objectives.

“Pastoring Without a Pastor”

The most recent Friends Journal, August 2020, is organized around the theme “Pastoral Friends,” an unusual topic for Friends Journal. The articles are worth reading. Especially interesting is “Pastoring Without a Pastor,” by Kathleen Costello Malin, about the experience of Smithfield Friends Meeting, which, like Durham Friends Meeting, is part of New England Yearly Meeting. And, like Durham Friends, Smithfield is trying pastoral worship without a pastor. I recommend the whole article. Likely you’ll need a subscription to read it, but here’s a snippet or two:

We continue to try things to keep our pastoral meeting’s tradition alive. We had several volunteer “pastors” and have also tried to share the duties of presenting messages among our members. We know that we have people who come to our meeting for the programmed worship. They have alternatives that offer sermons and hymns, including a welcoming Old Catholic church that some of our members also attend. Pastoral care for the members of the meeting was certainly the hardest thing to replicate when we tried it on our own. Not everyone is suited to this type of ministry, and the duty usually falls on those most willing to help.

“After our last pastor retired, our Ministry and Counsel Committee met to explore our options. …

“[F]or several years we took turns giving messages from the lectern during our meetings for worship. We would start with a song and follow with sharing our joys and concerns of the week. After some silent worship, the volunteer would give a message, and then after another period of open worship, we ended with a song. 

Clarabel Marstaller Memorial Service — Saturday, August 8 at 1:30 p.m.

Clarabel Marstaller’s Memorial Service will be held at the meetinghouse and on Zoom on August 8, 2020, at 1:30 p.m. We look forward to celebrating her life and sharing memories with as many people as possible.

            As we are still in a pandemic and are limited in how many can physically be present at the meetinghouse, we encourage people to attend by Zoom. If you do want to attend in person, please let Nancy Marstaller at marstallern@gmail.com or 207 725-4294 know so she can make sure we are following current guidelines. Face masks will be required to enter the meetinghouse and there will be no refreshments after the service.

            To join the meeting by Zoom you may log on through the Durham Friends Meeting website: http://www.durhamfriendsmeeting.org/.

You can log on after 1 p.m. on August 8.

            The family thanks everyone for all their support.

“Six Things We Have To Offer,” By Doug Bennett

Most of us are living a closed-in, closed-down life.  We’re waiting for this strange time to pass.  And by ‘strange time’ I certainly mean the pandemic, but I mean more than that:  I mean what’s been unleashed in public life in recent years: corruption, bigotry, violence. These also can put us back on our heels, sheltered, for safety.  The pandemic requires me to stay apart from others, but the bigotry, violence and corruption can lead me to cower in a bunker, shut up in my house, waiting for it all to pass. 

Sometimes it feels like a strange dream: this is not my country; this is not my world.  But I know that it is my country and my world.  Waiting it out, cowering: these are not what I should be doing, or certainly not all that I should be doing.  It can feel like I don’t have much to offer – or that we don’t have much to offer.  It feels like I just have to wait it out – all the bad stuff.

But on second thought I think we do have things to offer.  That’s what’s on my mind this morning.  What Have We to Offer?  I’ve been making a list.  So, six things we have to offer– and I’m sure this is a partial list. 

…….

3.  Here’s a third thing we can offer: “Jesus has come to teach his people himself.”  In this community, Durham Friends Meeting, we know God will speak to us if we still ourselves and listen.  God will give us comfort.  Even more, God or Spirit will show us the way.  What an amazing thing this is that we have to offer. 

We’re not alone in the bunker.  We’re in this together, and we’re in it with God.  This idea that God speaks to us in the present: that is a very special thing that Quaker Meetings have to offer.  We should take advantage of this gift, and we do.  And we should share this gift with others – as often and loudly as we can.  We have a Teacher with us, always, to give us insight and courage, reassurance and encouragement.  So this is a third thing we have to offer.

4.  And here’s a fourth thing we have to offer, one we grasp when we truly grasp God will speak to us in the present.  We can remind ourselves that the Kingdom of Heaven is here now.  Of course it doesn‘t come automatically; it’s ours to build, this Kingdom of Heaven.  It’s not easy and not quick; it will take persistence and courage.  Still, the Kingdom of Heaven isn’t in some distant future, the Rapture or the Second Coming, something in the unknown future. 

We’re not waiting; we’re building.  We remind ourselves of this, and if we’re on our game, we tell other people this.  This understanding that the Kingdom of Heaven is really here, now, is a tremendous gift that Quakers offer the world.  If we’re really on our game, we show them this.  We join with others in building the beloved community. 

…..

We can take these offerings for granted.  They may come too easily to us.  We need to remember them when we feel like cowering or just sheltering in place.  Nevertheless, we mustn’t be shy or withdrawn.  We have things to offer – to one another, to our neighbors, to Mainers, to Americans, to the world. 

We have much to offer.  Let us be generous. 

[The full message is available on Riverview Friend.]

Durham Meeting Contemplative Prayer Group

On Monday mornings from 8:45 am through 9:45 am you are welcome to join us for prayer.  The Zoom details are below.

During this period, we experience a corporate attention to God through silence, intercessory prayer, exercises of gratitude and communion with each other.  Though we are not tied to a particular order of practice, we include a brief time for greetings, prayer requests, followed by 30 minutes of waiting worship, and close with about 15 minutes of fellowship and final thoughts.

Join us!

Durham Friends is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84001217888

Meeting ID: 840 0121 7888

One tap mobile
+13126266799,,84001217888# US (Chicago)
+19292056099,,84001217888# US (New York)

Dial by your location
        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
        +1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
        +1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)
        +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
        +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
        +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
Meeting ID: 840 0121 7888
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kXsYuVbep

Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, July 19, 2020

            Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends convened for the conduct of business on Sunday, July 19, 2020, with 19 people present.  Clerk, Martha Hinshaw Sheldon, opened the meeting by quoting the late John Lewis, member of the United States House of Representatives, and civil-rights leader: “Do not get lost in a sea of despair.  Be hopeful, be optimistic.  Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime.  Never, ever be afraid to make some noise. Necessary noise.”

1. The June minutes were approved.

2. Representatives to Falmouth Quarterly Meeting, which meets July 25 at 10:00 a.m., Joyce Gibson and Sarah Sprogell, were approved.

3. We were saddened to learn of the death of Susan (Sukie) Rice who had been ill for some time.  Liana Knight-Thompson, Sarah Sprogell, and Tess Hartford volunteered to write a memorial minute.

4. Trustees:  Donna Hutchins sent a report.  They have an estimate for the cost of repointing the meetinghouse bricks, and we asked that they obtain a second estimate for comparison.  The kitchen has been painted. Window sills have been scraped and painted. Other plans are to refinish the front entry floor and paint the walls; refinish or replace the back hall floor and paint the walls; and paint the horse shed doors and posts. Andy Higgins will be asked to remove some trees too close to buildings, remove dead tree at the parsonage, move sand in Lunt Cemetery to make a parking lot for the green burial area, and fix damage in Lunt Cemetery.

            We discussed the usefulness of the phone land line in the meetinghouse in the era of cell phones.  Kristna Evans will consult with Katharine (Kitsie) Hildebrandt regarding alternates for a phone connection in the meetinghouse. 

5. We approved that KItsie and Kristna will follow up and use their discretion in changing to a less costly phone connection.

6. Peace and Social Concerns Committee: Ingrid Chalufour reported that the committee is planning a forum designed to deepen our understanding of the presence of racism in ourselves and our communities. Using readings as a stimulus for conversation, The committee is planning a series of discussions, each with a different focus. There will be more information about this project in the newsletter and again mid-August. The newsletter will have a list of recommended books and articles. In August they will give dates and topics for the discussions, which will begin in September. They hope many will participate in this important exploration.

            The committee has also written a Letter to the Editor for local papers.  They ask our permission to submit it to Portland, Lewiston, Bangor, and Brunswick newspapers. The letter is as follows:

            “Recent events have shed new light on the many ways racism is embedded in our society. While whites benefit from opportunities; people of color find hurdles, doors closed, and all kinds of barriers. Racism exists in health care, education, housing, policing, and voting rights.

            We recognize that our silence makes us complicit with injustice and violence. To quote Martin Luther King Jr. Nov. 17, 1957 The Trumpet of Conscience, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” We Quakers are called to better understand our complicity and to end it. We ask ourselves how we have supported racism in our communities, our state, and our country. To find the answers we must listen and learn about the experiences of others – people of color, the poor, the incarcerated, and the Native population of our state. Only with new understanding can we effect the changes we are called to make.

            Let us open our hearts and minds to the tragic effects of systemic racism, the loss of generations of black and brown leaders to unjust incarceration and the intractable poverty of the caste system we have allowed to flourish. Let’s let the protestors into our offices and boardrooms, to tell us of their hopes. Attend city/town council meetings to encourage thoughtful responses to the calls for a more just society. With new clarity we can legislate and live our ideals of justice and freedom for ALL Americans.”

            The committee also discussed posting a Black Lives Matter sign at the meetinghouse.

7. We approved sending the above letter to various newspapers, signed by the clerk representing Durham Friends Meeting.

8. We approved posting a Black Lives Matter ready-made sign at the meetinghouse.  Margaret Wentworth suggested that we read The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas.

9.  Meeting Care Coordinator Search Committee:  A positive and interesting all-meeting virtual interview with Mey Hasbrook was held on July 5.  Mey is a Quaker from Kalamazoo, Michigan.

            The committee would like to amend the Meeting Care Coordinator job description to include oversight by a three-person committee.  Martha Sheldon, Leslie Manning, and Wendy Schlotterbeck volunteered to serve.  To further describe the tasks of the MCC, they will meet with the Communications Committee, Ministry and Counsel, the Clerks group, and others as time allows.

            The Treasurer, Katharine Hildebrandt, suggested that the Care Coordinator salary be $10,200 per year.

10. The meeting approved the amendment to the job description, a three person oversight committee consisting of Martha Sheldon, Leslie Manning, and Wendy Schlotterbeck. 

11.  The meeting approved hiring Mey Hasbrook as Meeting Care Coordinator, to begin as soon as practical arrangements can be made, with a salary of $10,200 per year.

12. Finance Committee:  Sarah Sprogell presented the quarterly financial report which is attached.  She reported a total income of $27,696.58, and the total expenses of $17,902. 77 as of June 31, 2020. Our weekly contributions are lower than usual, but we have done well in limiting committee expenses, and there haven’t been any large expenses for the meetinghouse and parsonage.

            We spent almost $10,000 from the capital account for improvements in both the meetinghouse and the parsonage; this doesn’t show up in our operating budget. There is a new water heater at the parsonage, a number of plumbing improvements for the meetinghouse kitchen sinks, replaced the water filter system, and painted the meeting room, kitchen, and exterior windows.

13.  Ministry and Counsel: Doug Bennett presented a report regarding our method of worshiping as a group.

            “Since March 22, Durham Friends Meeting has been conducting worship via Zoom rather than in our Meetinghouse.  We have been gratified to see good participation in Meeting during these months of physical isolation from one another. 

            We know that there are some members of the Meeting who are eager to have us return to the Meetinghouse to worship together.  At the same time, we know there are many among us for whom catching the virus could be life threatening — a risk not worth running. 

            For the foreseeable future we believe the Meeting should continue to worship primarily via Zoom. 

            At the same time, we have started experimenting with a hybrid form of worship in which we will worship via Zoom and some people will worship in the Meetinghouse using electronic devices to connect to Zoom. 

            As we move forward, we will let you know when it is possible for some to return to worship in the Meetinghouse and what you should do if and when you do come to the Meetinghouse.  Everyone who comes to the Meetinghouse will be asked to wear masks and maintain safe social distance from one another.  There will continue to be no shared refreshments. 

            We are likely to continue holding worship primarily via Zoom until a vaccine or proven anti-viral medicines are developed.  All future decisions and formats are dependent on CDC recommendations. 

            Finding ways to worship together and at the same time ensuring the safety of all of our members continue to be our two guiding stars.  We appreciate the assistance New England Yearly Meeting and others have given us as we learn the possibilities and potential pitfalls of such hybrid worship.” 

13.  We approved this plan for the for-seeable future, and thank Ministry and Counsel for their thoughtful consideration of meeting attendance.

14.  Martha Sheldon reported that Leslie Manning, Clerk of the Permanent Board, requests that the meetinghouse be used to view New England Yearly Meeting annual sessions, August 1-9.  Appropriate precautions are required.  Leslie will host many of these sessions..

15. We approved the use of the meetinghouse for viewing NEYM sessions.

16.  Christian Education Committee: Wendy Schlotterbeck, Youth Minister, reported that 9 persons enjoyed the Cox Pinnacle hike last Sunday, July 12th.  She announced a game night on August 15, at 6:30 via Zoom.  Please send her trivia questions. She also reminded us to register for New England Yearly Meeting. Wendy has reported that she is cutting back her hours while the pandemic is ongoing to five hours a week due to the lack of activity, to be reconsidered when social distancing is no longer necessary.

17. Clerk Martha Sheldon reminded us that the Durham Meeting Handbook needs to be updated.  Committees are encouraged and requested to update their sections.  It was suggested that the Clerks Committee tackle this project.  A friendly discussion ensued regarding our need for more Quaker faith and practice education.  Resources were suggested.

            The meeting ended with a short prayer from Clerk, Martha Sheldon.

Dorothy Hinshaw Recording Clerk

“Being at Friends Camp,” by Natalie Bornstein

A message given at Durham Friends Meeting, July 12, 2020

Good Morning. My name is Natalie Bornstein. I want to thank you for inviting me to be with you
today and to share a message on behalf of Friends Camp. I am a member of the Friends Camp
Committee and I also was a camper and a counselor as a young person.
For folks who may not know, Friends Camp is a Quaker sleepaway camp in South China, Maine
for youth ages 7-17. Friends Camp has been around since 1953 and due to the Covid-19
pandemic, this is the first summer that we have been unable to offer camp. But, before I share a
bit about the situation that Friends Camp is in today, I’d like to invite you to imagine Camp as it
usually is.
If you are comfortable, I invite you to think of yourself at around 12 years old. If that feels
uncomfortable in any way, you might imagine a 12 year-old you know and love or just listen
without any particular person in mind. For the next few minutes, you are 12 years old and you
are at Friends Camp for a two-week session with about 100 other young people. Twelve is a
great age to go to Camp. You’re young enough to fully give yourself over to silliness and
pretend and old enough to enjoy some of the independence that overnight camp allows. Once
you have your mental picture, I’d like to guide you through a day at Camp.
In the morning you wake to the sound of a bell. It is a sunny day and you are warm in your bunk
bed in Dove Cabin. You get up slowly, put on your clothes, and swing open the screen door.
The camp is awake and buzzing! There are children swinging on the log swing, playing tether
ball, reading books under the shady pine grove, and braiding each other’s hair for the day. You
take a seat at a picnic table with a couple of other kids and a counselor who is drinking coffee.
They are laughing and talking about the upcoming day.
The final bell rings at 8 and it is time for breakfast. You head into Big Bird dining hall. It’s loud
and a little chaotic, but you get to sit next to some friends from another cabin who you haven’t
seen since yesterday. It’s Tuesday at Camp which means Bagel Tuesday. There is a buffet
smorgasbord of bagels laid out for you. You like blueberry bagels with cream cheese – sweet
and sour together.
After breakfast you have some free time. You head to the tree house with a couple of friends.
You’re hoping nobody else got there first. It is one of your favorite spots at Camp – high above
the ground, quiet and private. You and your friends sit on the floor of the tree house so that no
one can see you from the ground. You talk about things at Camp and things from home, too. It
is the third day of Camp and you’re starting to feel close to them.
The bell rings again and it’s time for Meeting for Worship. The whole camp heads up to Aviary.
Aviary is a big, one-room building with a large stone fireplace. An Aviary is a home for birds and
all the cabins at Camp are named after birds. Once you’re inside Aviary you have to be silent,
and there is a cacophony of shushing as you enter the doors.
You’re not totally sure how you feel about Meeting for Worship. It can be hard to stay silent.
What are you supposed to think about? Sometimes another kid will do something silly like fart in
the middle of the silence and everyone will laugh. But, sometimes, it can feel like a moment
that’s all yours and shared with everybody else at the same time. Everyday a counselor shares
a message. They make you feel calm, like having a story read to you when you were younger.
Sometimes they make you feel small, but not in a bad way. Some kids share messages too.
You never have, you’re not sure what you would say, but maybe one morning you will.
After Meeting for Worship, it’s time for Programs. In your program, you and 7 other kids are
writing a play together. You’re going to perform it at the Variety Show at the end of camp. It’s
very silly and doesn’t totally make sense and yesterday when your Program group was together,
you laughed so hard you couldn’t catch your breath. You volunteered to create the costumes
because you learned to sew recently, but you have a role in the performance too. The counselor
who is leading the program is very cool. They are studying theater in college.
Other kids are in their own programs. Some of them are making art, some are learning how to
build a fire, some are canoeing to a nearby island, some are organizing a protest, some are
inventing new sports, and some are getting dirty just for fun.
After Programs and lunch, you and your cabin mates retire to Dove for Rest Hour. While the sun
is high and hot outside, in the cabin, it’s cool and shady. Your counselor delivers the cabin’s
mail, while reminding you to talk quietly so that they can get some rest. Talking with your
friends, you try, unsuccessfully, to keep your giggles hushed. Eventually, your counselor tells
you that they really need sleep and that the remainder of Rest Hour will be silent. You climb
back into your own bunk and stare up at the ceiling. The walls of the cabin are covered in writing
and doodles. Writing on cabin walls is encouraged at camp. There are names of kids from 20
and 30 years ago! You read their names and their jokes and their favorite bands and imagine
kids in the future reading your name. You get out your black sharpy and sign your bunk bed,
adding ‘slept here 2021.’
Soon another bell rings and it’s time for Waterfront. You change into your bathing suit, grab your
towel, your water bottle, your book, and your friendship bracelet materials. You consider your
sunscreen but disregard it. You’re working on your tan!
At Waterfront, there is a wide grassy field that leads to a small rocky beach and a long dock
extending out onto the lake. Campers sit together in circles – talking, reading, playing cards,
making friendship bracelets. Some run to the water immediately, hand in hand with their
swimming buddies. They breathlessly declare their partnership to the counselor stationed at the
buddy board and run forward, feet pounding the slippery dock. The sounds of splashing,
shouting, and the high tone of a lifeguard’s whistle travel from the beach up to the field.
Another group of children rush the Boat House. Kayaks, canoes, and a small sailboat are
marched toward the rocky boat launch. You’ve never been on a boat like that, but think you’d
like to try. Some of the kids seem like they’ve been captaining boats forever. But, you think: it’s
your third summer at camp. If not now, when?
You talk to the counselor in charge of all of Waterfront. She’s excited that you want to learn how
to use the boats! She says, maybe for today you could go out on a boat together to see if you
like it?
Out on China Lake you feel powerful and quiet at once. The Waterfront counselor steers the
kayak confidently into the wind, and it blows your hair back and ripples in your ears. The feeling
of gliding across the water, away from camp, toward the islands makes you feel free and sets
your mind to thinking about big things – bigger than camp.
Remembering the counselor captaining your craft, you suddenly feel shy and unsure of what to
say to her, but she seems happy and comfortable with the silence. Suddenly, using the oar as a
pointer, she whispers: ‘Look! On that rock – it’s a turtle!’
After returning from Waterfront, there is time to rest or enjoy an elective before dinner. And by
dinner you are tired and hungry from the day. You pile your plate with pasta, garlic bread, salad,
and Nestor Cake (a peanut buttery, chocolate frosted, Friends Camp original dessert). Once
everyone has eaten, the counselors stand up in front of Big Bird, and call names for jobs. You
cross your fingers under the table and chant: ‘Not me. Not me. Not me.’ in your head. You were
planning to meet your friends at the log swing to continue the comic you’ve been reading
together. But, it’s the third day of camp and you haven’t gotten an assignment yet. And as they
call the names for dinner wash, you hear your own and sigh: ‘At least it isn’t bathrooms.’
When jobs are done, everyone comes together for Evening Games. You are given the role of
‘seaweed’ in the game Fishy, Fishy Cross my Ocean. Campers are running, falling, laughing,
and tagging one another. Some sit on the side of the field and watch or cheer. Tired and out of
breath, you put 3 fingers up to the sky to estimate how long until sunset like the Camp Director
taught you. It’s almost time for Vespers.
As the sky becomes dusky, campers rush to change into long sleeves and pants. In a line led by
counselors holding giant, light-up stop signs, you cross the busy road to the Vespers Field. As
you enter through a clearing, everyone begins to quiet down. You find a spot at the edge of the
field and sit cross legged in the grass. From this point at the top of the hill, you can see the
brilliant orange sun touching down on China Lake. The clouds around the sun are pink, the sky
above your head holds on to blue, and the water shimmers with the day’s remaining light.
Across the field, campers and counselors are gazing at the sunset, writing in journals, or laying
on their backs and staring at the sky – waiting for the first stars to arrive. You love the quiet at
the end of the day. There is no nervousness inside you, asking what should I say? What could I
contribute? The sunset and the lake is more than enough and says everything about the day.
After the sun slips past the horizon, a counselor stands up and stretches – signaling that
Vespers has come to an end. Campers and counselors come together in hugs, handshakes,
high fives, and smiles. Welcoming each other back to the realm of talking and noise. You walk
back to camp chatting and laughing again, but a calmness remains.
In Aviary, tonight’s Evening Program is singing together. Some of the early songs are loud and
involve coordinated movements. Others are inspiring and exciting like ‘Solidarity Forever.’ The
last song is a round called ‘Sanctuary,’ and in the final verse, campers begin to leave Aviary,
group by group, singing into the night. As you pass through the doors, a counselor hands you a
bedtime snack. It is a warm, gooey cinnamon roll. This is your favorite bedtime snack.
Once everyone is in bed in Dove Cabin, your counselor says goodnight, turns off the light, and
leaves for their hour off. Almost immediately, you and your friends launch into your favorite night
time game: attempting to make it all the way around the cabin without touching the floor. You
climb from top bunk to top bunk, scurry over bureaus and shelves, and swing across the
doorway, feet on either side of the doorknob.
It isn’t long before a counselor on night patrol, comes by with their flashlight, and tells Dove
Cabin to settle down. After they leave there are lots of giggles, but soon voices lower and your
cabin mates wiggle into their sleeping bags and drift off to sleep. In the darkness and quiet, you
feel awake. Your mind wanders and you feel unexpectedly sad and wish some of your friends
were awake to keep you company. After tossing and turning for a bit, while a mosquito squeals
in your ear, you decide to get out of bed and go outside.
You find the night patrol counselor sitting on the bench under the floodlight. Above them, moths
dive in and out of the light. You tell them you’re feeling sad and don’t know why. They ask if
you’d like to go for a walk?
The night is extra dark at camp. The frogs singing in the pond are the only sound in the hot air.
All the familiar places feel different, special and secret. As you walk, you tell the counselor about
how you miss your family while you’re at camp and that there are things you’d rather not think
about while you’re here. But, at night when you’re alone in your bunk, those things tend to come
back. You stop at a swing between two trees. You swing for a bit while they sit on a stump and
watch you. They mostly listen. It is nice to not be alone.
After a while on the swing, you feel more settled. The counselor walks you back to your cabin
and says goodnight. You creep quietly back into your bunk. The mosquito seems to be gone
now. You look out at the night sky through the small window by your bed. You hear the soft
sounds of your friends snoring and rustling in their beds. As you close your eyes, you can still
feel the waves of the lake underneath the kayak in your body. The memory rocks you as you
drift off to sleep.
Thank you for listening. Much of what I shared with you is based on moments that I experienced
as either a camper or counselor. I wrote this imagination about summer at camp in the year 2021. But, it could have been set at any time in the last 40 years. That is one of the aspects of
Friends Camp that make it home for so many people. While our values and vision continue to
evolve to better support the needs of youth, the daily routine, the summer activities, and the
feeling of community and friendship are timeless. I can say from years of experience, the rhythm
of life at camp is very grounding. And I hope my words were able to convey some of that feeling.
Of course, Camp is more than swimming, and games, and singing. It is a place where youth and
young adults from all backgrounds build community together that is rooted in Quaker values.
Youth and young adult staff work together to care for both the physical environment and the
relational and spiritual needs of the community. Quaker values at Camp are more than children
attending Meeting and Vespers everyday. It is built into the uniquely accessible structure of
camp. For example, among many other scholarships opportunities, Friends Camp offers
free-of-cost camp for any child in Maine who has a parent/guardian who is incarcerated. This
option lasts for all the years a child is able to attend camp, even if their parent or guardian is
released. Friends Camp is also a participant in the Level Ground program, a scholarship that
intends to make summer camp more accessible for youth in Maine from immigrant and refugee
families. And Friends Camp has long been a safe place for LGBTQ+ youth and young adults.
Recently, camp began offering a ‘gender expansive’ cabin for youth who do not feel affirmed by
the limited options of ‘girls’ and ‘boys.’
I also wrote this message as a prayer that Friends Camp will be able to open in summer 2021.
The cancelation of this summer’s sessions left Friends Camp in a challenging economic
situation. In order to insure that we can hold camp next summer and for years to come, Friends
Camp staff, committee members, alumni, and families have been working together on an
initiative called the ‘Flock Together Campaign’ to raise $75,000 to sustain camp. Thanks to the
generosity of the camp community, we are 90% of the way to reaching that goal.
Members of the Camp Committee, like myself, are also visiting with Meetings throughout New
England to connect with the wider Quaker community and share our need. Friends Camp is not
only an important summer resource for youth, it is an opportunity for them to connect with
Quakerism in a way that it is fun, age appropriate, and meaningful. And we appreciate the
generosity of the wider community for helping us keep this beautiful site of youth ministry alive.
If you feel moved personally or as a Meeting to support camp you can go online to
friendscamp.org/support or reach out to me personally. Thank you for listening and for inviting
me into your worship today.

A Message from Ministry and Counsel About Worship at DFM During the Pandemic

Since March 22, Durham Friends Meeting has been conducting worship via Zoom rather than in our Meetinghouse.  We have been gratified to see good participation in Meeting during these months of physical isolation from one another.  We know that there are some members of the Meeting who are eager to have us return to the Meetinghouse to worship together.  At the same time, we know there are many among us for whom catching the virus could be life threatening — a risk not worth running. For the foreseeable future the Meeting will continue to worship primarily via Zoom.  At the same time, we have started experimenting with a hybrid form of worship in which we will worship via Zoom and some people will worship in the Meetinghouse using electronic devices to connect to Zoom.  As we move forward, we will let you know when it is possible for some to return to worship in the Meetinghouse and what you should do if and when you do come to the Meetinghouse.  Everyone who comes to the Meetinghouse will be asked to wear masks and maintain safe social distance from one another.  There will continue to be no shared refreshments. We are likely to continue holding worship primarily via Zoom until a vaccine or proven anti-viral medicines are developed.  All future decisions and formats are dependent on CDC recommendations. Finding ways to worship together and at the same time ensuring the safety of all of our members continue to be our two guiding stars.  We appreciate the assistance New England Yearly Meeting and others have given us as we learn the possibilities and potential pitfalls of such hybrid worship.

We will be adapting and adjusting as we proceed. It is our hope that this format will allow for more people to be a part of our worshiping community.  It is our hope that we can come together to support, encourage and walk with each other in this time of challenge and unknowingness.   May the spirit of love and peace be our guide.  — From Members of Ministry and Counsel: Martha Hinshaw Sheldon, clerk, Doug Bennett, Renee Cote, Joyce Gibson, Tess Hartford, Brown Lethem, Wendy Schlotterbeck.

Sukie Rice Has Passed; Invitation to a Vigil

From her husband, Lee:

Dear Friends,

Sukie passed on at noon today. Her last hours–from early this morning forward–went quickly. Even though she was unconscious, or turned deeply inward, during much of that time, there was a determination about those hours, a focus, like that of the long-distance runner who will not stop or be stopped till the finish line is crossed.

 Her last days–there have been eighteen of them since she ceased eating and drinking–were punctuated again and again by the surprising and generous idea, the loving suggestion, the gentle imperative, and the general putting in order of virtually all things within her reach (of course, because she’s never hesitated to call upon others to lend a hand, her reach remained very long indeed). 

As most of you know, Sukie staunchly believed in the reality of a spiritual world. She did not have a fear of death, perhaps intuiting, as Walt Whitman said, 

            “All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
            And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.”

As I sit here writing this, I find myself convinced that some confirmation of that intuition can probably be found in the radiantly peaceful, beautiful expression on the face of her body–which, thanks to Sarah, Pat, and Joan, lies freshly washed, dressed, and at rest now under a purple Kenya cloth in the next room.

But enough. Other than to let you know that the end of her life happened today, I have no more important thing to say than this: She loved you. You enriched her life. She was profoundly grateful for that. And she wouldn’t mind my adding that (as I think some of you may already have been reminded by her) not only will she not miss you, she will be with you, now and in times to come.   — Lee

From her friend, Sarah Hyde:

Our dearest Sukie crossed the threshold today [July 17]. She took flight with such beauty and courage!  

Now we begin a three-day Vigil in which we honor her passing, her extraordinary life. We welcome you to come and visit her body in her home for the next three days. Our experience in being a part of a vigil is to visit, to come and sit at her kitchen table, laugh, cry, share your stories of Sukie and what you loved about her, Then, if you wish, go and sit with her in Silence, prayer, singing a song she loved, reciting or reading a poem or scripture… .whatever you are moved to do with her for 5-15 minutes. We consider this Vigil a period of time that helps to carry Sukie across the waters to the next world. Someone will be at her home throughout the day- the Chisholm family at night, Pat Chanterelle, Joan Mueller and I will be there during the day from 10 am-7 pm. We welcome anyone who would like to visit with Sukie.

We ask that you please wear masks and dress warmly. Though it is supposed to be quite warm this weekend, we will have the room very cold with an air conditioner to help her body and its 3-day passage. We have made a Google Doc  that you can use to sign up for a specific time slot identifying when you would like to visit. Here is the link.  Thank you all for your kind words and support of Sukie throughout the past few months. She looks beautiful and peaceful; she’s heading home.

Below is a description written by Lee with regard to a 3-day Vigil- it is beautiful. If you would like more information beyond this click on the link he offers- it is very helpful. Much Love and Reverence for Sukie and this very sacred time together, — Sarah Hyde

The Three-Day Vigil

As many of you have heard, Sukie and I all this winter, spring, and summer have been feeding—and watching—the birds. Just as each species has its own look, flight pattern, song, so too each also has its own way of eating at our bird feeder. My personal favorite is probably the chickadee. Nothing greedy there. The little fellow alights, takes one plump seed, pauses (just for a second), and springs into the air, gleefully victorious, with its prize in its beak.

That may be a helpful image—chickadee version—of a brief time that follows death. Sukie and I believe that, with the last breath, the soul detaches from the body, but it does not simultaneously or instantaneously detach from its life. Indeed, all the people, places, things, and events it has encountered during its life lie before it—or so we have come to believe– in a vast panorama.  A panorama, or tableau, that one experiences over the course of approximately three days…and from the fruits of this experience, one takes (makes, shapes, and creates as well, perhaps) a “seed.”

If all this is so (and many a cultural tradition as well as the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, who founded among other things the first Waldorf School, say that it is so), these three days are very special. Vigil or no vigil, each of us who knew Sukie—who have brought to her (and I quote her last letter, “great happiness as you have traveled your journey intermingling with mine”—is clearly a part of that retrospective tableau.

And during the vigil—whether you sit for a time in the room where her physical body rests or, from a distance, picture her as you knew her in life, and think of her (or read a poem to her,  sing to her, remember something you did together with her, speak to her of what she has meant to you in your life, etc—you help her. You support her. You become as if part of the pole or perch upon which the chickadee pauses, ever so briefly (three days is not a long time where eternity is concerned), before it springs into the light-filled air with that seed in its beak.

For more on the three-day vigil from another’s perspective, check out Nancy Poer’s article from an old issue of Lilipohhere.

Durham Friends Meetinghouse Centennial and Rededication, August 31, 1929

Doug Gwyn (former pastor at Durham Friends and noted Quaker author, came upon the article below, which appeared in The American Friend, October 3, 1929, about a celebration of the centennial of the current Durham Friends Meetinghouse. He sends it along with greetings to all. The Meeting history by Hattie O. Cox, to which reference is made, is here. The Meeting as a worshipping community was founded in 1775.

“Leaning Into Invitations and Blessings,” by Lisa Steele-Maley

Notes from Message for Durham Meeting, July 5, 2020


It is a serious thing,

Just to be alive

on this fresh morning

In this broken world.

These words from Mary Oliver’s poem Invitation help me to embrace the immensity of this moment. They invite me to step into the responsibility to stretch widely enough to embrace both the despair and the hope in this moment — mine, yours, and everyone else’s. When I found this poem in early April, the invitation provided ballast for navigating the push and pull of the everchanging, uncertain landscape. I gave myself to the responsibility of showing up, naming “paying attention” as my primary commitment and trusting that the next right thing to do will emerge.

Invitation

Mary’s invitation gave me courage, energy, and strength to show up and I gave myself to it fully and wholeheartedly, until I was exhausted. In my exhaustion, I become impatient, eager to return to some action, some form of doing. Fortunately, John O’Donohue’s poem meets me there, with gentle reassurance that “empty time” is where I need to be. He encourages me to let go of “doing” and give into “being”.

For One Who is Exhausted, A Blessing

The ballast provided by giving into the exhaustion balances that of showing up. Settling in more deeply to embrace both the exhale and the inhale, the rest and the exertion, I recognize Spirit at work in me. Recognizing the accompaniment of spirit, I more easily trust that the ebb and flow of my energy and attention is natural and necessary. It is how I remain faithful. Parker Palmer wrote, “the struggle for love, truth and justice is forever. Those of us who care about it are not asked to win a final victory in our lifetimes. We are asked to remain faithful to the task…”

At this time, let us lean into the invitations and the blessings that help us to remain faithful to the task. And let us remember that “it is a serious thing just to be alive on this fresh morning in this broken world” and “we must be excessively gentle with ourselves.”

Falmouth Quarterly Meeting, Saturday, July 25, 10am to Noon

Falmouth Quarterly Meeting asks:  How are we being nourished?

Friends, it’s good to feel nourished, especially in times of heightened concern.  Falmouth Quarter intends to meet on Saturday July 25 for fellowship, spiritual nourishment and worship.  We will use the Zoom format and gather there from 10 to noon.

We invite each meeting to bring a reflection/meditation to share on what you have discovered in this season of virtual community and bring a query that all can respond to.  We are imagining each meeting would share their thoughts and query, followed by worship sharing, repeated six times for all six meetings.

We hope all meetings will feel led to participate in this time to gather, connect, share and worship together as a larger community.  Durham Friends who would like to be involved in any way, please reach out to Sarah Sprogell at sarahsprogell@gmail.com or 319-5077.

In Peace and Gratitude for our gathered communities, Sarah Sprogell and Fritz Weiss, co-conveners of Falmouth Quarter.