Earthcare, Call to Action, Empowerment and Engagement, February 27, 8:30/9:00 to Noon

Vassalboro Quarterly Meeting and Acadia Friends Monthly Meeting invites Falmouth Quarterly Meeting and NEYM Young Adult Friends to an interactive workshop via Zoom.

Earthcare, Call to Action, Empowerment and Engagement

Saturday, February 27, 2021, 9:00 a.m. — noon (8:30 a.m. to gather)

Speakers: Andy Burt, Jay O’Hara, Peter Garrett, Gray Cox

Facilitators: Margaret Marshall and MaineBob O’Connor

Maine Activist Earthcare Friends will speak about their personal journeys including moments of insight, and anecdotes of success and failure. There will also be two break-out groups (3-5 people) in which each attender will share their own journeys, and hope and intentions for 2021.

If interested, please reach out to Carole Beal ( to make sure you get the Zoom link (to be sent out a few days before the event) and for a document with a personal witness prepared by each speaker, plus information about the facilitators, and queries and levels of climate concern prepared by the NEYM Earthcare Committee.

Join Zoom Meeting with this Long Link
Meeting ID: 961 0969 4747
Passcode: 207207
By Phone Dial by your location
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
Be sure to press # after the Meeting ID and Passcode.

Information about Speakers and Facilitators and Useful Materials for the Session

*8:30 am log in, gather, request sign in of name, meeting, email address into chat for distribution
to participants only. (welcome individual by Margaret)
*9:00 Welcome by Margaret. (5 minutes.)
*9:05 Worship for 15 minutes. (15 minutes.) (Margaret)
*9:20 Gray introduces speakers by name and asks them to speak out of the silence in this order:
Jay O’Hara, Peter Garrett, Andy Burt. They share their personal journeys for 15 minutes each.
Bob will announce 1 minute left. (45 minutes plus time for silent transition between speakers.)
*10:15: Breakout groups of 3 random individuals:
“Where am I in my personal journey? What gifts do I bring?
(Gray will put in chat) (10 minutes.)
*10:25: Chat: Bob invites all to write a word or two or short phrase reflecting your journeys and
gifts in the chat and Margaret reads them as they come after a pause to give all a chance to think
about ideas.
(3-5 minutes)
*10:30: Gray invites all for10 minute break. Short music Earthcare theme (Bob). (10 minutes)
*10:40: Speaker: Gray Cox. (15 minutes)
*10:55: Breakout groups sharing out of the silence with 4-5 participants assigned randomly.
Query: What am I led to do? What might my meeting be led to do? What action do I imagine?
What is the next step? How do we remain engaged on behalf of the Earth beyond good
(Gray will enter these in Chat) (screen prompt will be provided halfway through. (20 minutes.)
*11:15 Bob invites all to write short phrases of leadings into chat out of the silence. Candle or
fireplace on screen. (5 minutes.) Chat read out loud by Margaret after a pause to give participants
and chance to contemplate ideas…
*11:20 Query: What am I led to as a next step for us? Gray invites all to take three breaths as we
enter Worship Share: things that rise up out of the silence. (40 minutes)
*12:00 Gray offers gratitude to participants with an invitation to linger with an explanation of the
breakout room options. After thoughts?
MaineBob opens up chat to private sharing. Also optional breakout rooms would be available for
people to talk in small groups for as long as they wish (one hour?). Bob will ask for titles to go
with numbered breakout rooms. 1.Pine Tree Amendment, 2.Citizens Climate Lobby 3…

Ice Skating Party, February 28, 1-2:30 pm

On Sunday, Feb. 28, the Christian Education Committee will host an ice skating party from 1-2:30 p.m. Skating will take place on a pond near the meetinghouse.

Meet at 740 Durham Road; park nearby or park at Durham Meeting and walk a half mile up the road. Please wear a mask and observe social distancing. Kid friendly!

Contact Wendy Schlotterbeck with questions.

“Getting to Know God,” by Joyce Gibson

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, February 14, 2021

G’ Morning Y’all,

I am pleased to be here this morning.  Thank you for being here. My message this morning is “Getting to Know God

My resources today are from a new book I found on prayer—called simply PRAYER, by Timothy Keller, published in 2014.  After 911, Keller, a Presbyterian minister, and his wife were both suffering from serious illnesses, and on her suggestion, they decided to pray together.  They already had individual prayer practices, but she challenged them to make this a habit together, to be closer to God.  They have been praying nightly since that time in 2001, often on the phone when one or the other is away, but it is now a daily practice—not taking the place of other forms of prayer they are still engaged in.

My other sources are old stand byes:  The Bible, and Thomas R. Kelly.  I am using sections of his book Testament to Devotion, published in 1941, and excerpts from an article titled “Reality of the Spiritual World” from the Pendle Hill Reader.  (This 184-page reader sold for $2.75 in 1942!)  And finally, the small book published in 1982—at least my edition, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.

In his book called Prayer, Keller tells us something some of us have come to believe, others not so fully, as we are still testing, still learning:

God is the only person from whom you can hide nothingBefore Him, you will unavoidably come to see yourself in a new, unique light.  Prayer, therefore, leads to a self-knowledge that is impossible to achieve any other way.  Prayer is the only entryway into genuine self-knowledge.  It is also the main way we experience deep change—the reordering of our loves—NOT our lives, but our loves.  Prayer is how God gives us so many of the unimaginable thing he has for us.  Indeed, prayer makes it safe for God to give us many of the things we most desire.  It is the way we know God, the way we finally treat God as God.  Prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life.

Paul also tells us the way we get to know God better.  In writing to the people of Ephesus, he offers thanksgiving and prayers.  Ephesians 1:16-17:

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.  I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

Getting to know God and experiencing His love is what this special relationship is all about—Not just getting our desires met.  And there are many benefits to this relationship according to Thomas Kelly:

Within (us) is a meeting place with God, who strengthens and invigorates our whole personality and makes us new creatures—then the tempests and inner strain of self-seeking, self-oriented living grow still.  (Overriding our deep levels of selfishness is indeed a tough job!)  Something of the cosmic patience of God Himself becomes ours, and we walk in quiet assurances and boldness for He is with us, His rod and His staff, they comfort us.

Kelly goes on to write that this practice is not unlike that of Brother Lawrence who lived in the 17th century—the same period as George Fox who discovered after long searching—this Inner Light.  The Light we Quakers believe is in every person.  Brother Lawrence found God when he was 18 years old, and began experimenting with prayer, continuous prayer over the years.  When asked how he came upon this habit, he reported that he believed that God was at the beginning of each day, at the end and throughout the day, no matter what he was doing; thus, uttering prayers of thanks, reporting mistakes, just having a conversation just became a habit.  He was convinced that God loved him, forgave him for his mistakes, and heard his confessions.

Finally, I want to share that Thomas Kelly thought that the practice of continuous prayer is difficult, but that we should be gentle with ourselves, beginning again and again, even after long periods of drought—not praying at all.  Daily, hourly, at every opportunity—a running conversation that he believed happens on two levels; two levels that ultimately evolve into a mature, sound connection with God.  I will quote from the Pendle Hill Reader from the article called the “Reality of the Spirituality World”, pp. 26-27.

This practice of continuous prayer in the presence of God involves developing the habit of carrying on mental life at two levels. At one level we are immersed in this world of time, of daily affairs.  At the same time, but at a deeper level of our minds, we are in active relation with the eternal life.  I do not think this is a psychologically impossibility or an abnormal thing.  One sees a mild analogy in the very human experience of being in love.  The newly accepted lover has an internal life of joy, of bounding heart, of outgoing aspiration toward his beloved.  Yet he goes to work, earns a living, eats his meals, pays his bills.  But all the time, deep within, there is a level of awareness of an object very dear to him.  This awareness is private; he shows it to no one; yet it spills across and changes his outer life, colors his behavior, and gives new zest and glory to the daily round.

Oh yes, we know what a mooning calf he may be at first, what a lovable fool about outward affairs.  But when the lover gets things in focus again, and the couple (my language) settle down to the long pull of the years, the deep love-relation underlies all the raveling frictions of home life and re-creates them in the light of deeper currents.  The two levels are there, the surface and the deeper, in fruitful interplay, with the creative values coming from the deeper into the daily affairs of life.

Think about getting to know God through continuous prayer.  Getting to know God and His love for us.  Getting to know yourself in new ways, undergoing a deeper love of change with God—in ways that are unimaginable.  Amen.

Maine Council of Churches Faith-Based Advocacy Series: 2/23, 3/16, 4/6, 4/26

The Maine Council of Churches will is holding a four-part online series designed to inspire and equip Mainers of faith to become advocates for public policies that promote peace built with justice and justice guided by love.  Each session will include worship (led by Rev. Sara Ewing Merrill), engaging interactive discussions featuring theologians, policy experts and legislators, and opportunities to develop real-world skills and practice in speaking about policy with the voice of faith.

Cost is $10 per session or $30 for all sessions.
Churches that register 5 or more participants – $100 flat fee.
For those for whom this cost would be prohibitive, we are happy to provide scholarship assistance. To request a scholarship please call 207-772-1918. For those who are able to afford more, we would gratefully accept your donations to help us defray costs.

More information here.

Cafe Corner, February 4, 2021

Cafe Corner, an experiment in creative revelry, returns Thursday, February 4th. This week’s theme is “Beauty in Brokenness.”  The gathering is facilitated by Mey Hasbrook.

Relaxed chatting starts at 6:30pm, and a listening circle is held from 7pm to 8pm; join us at either segment.

Creativity of many expressions is welcome.

Access the Zoom link for Sunday worship to join.

Quaker Advocacy — FCNL Suggestions and Resources

Alicia McBride, Director of Quaker leadership at FCNL, spoke with us on January 24 to give us insights on best practices in Quaker advocacy and to share some resources with us. Here are some of the suggestions she made:

Dear Friends,

It was a joy to be with you yesterday in worship and to talk about Friends’ advocacy and FCNL. I wanted to follow up and send the links I shared in the chat, as well as more information on some of the areas that came up. 

Resources and support for lobbying virtually: Here’s where you’ll find written guides as well as links to our regular in-person training, “Learn to Lobby in 30 Minutes” (the next one is February 2) and ways to contact FCNL’s organizers with specific questions. 

Connecting Durham Friends to FCNL: In addition to FCNL’s action alert email list, I put out a monthly newsletter specifically addressed to Quakers. You can sign up on our website here. The email list is open to everyone, not just a person officially designated as a contact with your meeting. 

Federal Native American advocacy resources: An overview of FCNL’s focus is on our website. There’s also more on the history of FCNL’s Native American advocacy program. If you don’t receive it already, I highly recommend subscribing to the monthly Native American Legislative Update email for regular updates.  

Other topics that we discussed: 

  • The Electoral College Should Be Abolished” (FCNL statement). Also a response to the May 2020 Supreme Court case on “faithless electors,” which included one of FCNL’s General Committee members. 
  • In President Biden’s first 100 days, FCNL recommends several actions related to the United Nations and restoring U.S. partnerships with the global community
  • I mentioned a project related to dismantling militarism (as well as racism) in U.S. foreign policy, led by FCNL’s Diana Ohlbaum and Salih Booker of the Center for International Policy. The project is in a consulting phase right now, so we don’t have info publicly available. I’m sure we will share more soon. It’s an exciting effort to support a movement to address the structural and worldview challenges that often prevent peace and justice policy from moving forward. 
  • The E. Raymond Wilson quote I shared is from his acceptance letter for the FCNL Executive Secretary position in November, 1943: “We ought to be willing to work for causes which will not be won now, but cannot be won in the future unless the goals are staked out now and worked for energetically over a period of time.” For a bit more about FCNL’s history, the first few minutes of this video from our 75th anniversary is worth your time.

 Thank you again for welcoming me, and if you have further questions or would like more information on a specific aspect of FCNL’s work, please let me know! I also wanted to let you know that we host a regular time for silent reflection and worship for the FCNL community, every Wednesday from 5:15-6pm Eastern. You’re most welcome to join Friends from across the country for a midweek pause and centering.


Alicia McBride, Director of Quaker Leadership (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Friends Committee on National Legislation, A Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest

245 2nd St. NE | Washington, DC 20002| (202) 465-7576

“Moving From Your Center,” by Alicia McBride (FCNL)

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, January 24, 2021

I appreciate that Quakerism recognizes that God can speak in everyday life. William Taber talks about worship as a stream that is always present and that we can dip into at any time. Knowing those moments of connection are possible both eases my frustration when my mind won’t settle during the appointed hour of worship, and also encourages me to be open to the wisdom I encounter outside of that time.

About 15 years ago, when I was just starting to practice yoga, one of my teachers described it as “the art of moving from your center.” He was referring to anatomy and body alignment, but that description sunk deep within me and has been something I’ve come back to, again and again, to describe the alignment – the integrity – I want to live into in my life more broadly.

Of course, this description presents two questions: What is my center, and how do I move from it?

I am holding these questions today, in the midst of the emotional roller coaster of the last few weeks. Excitement, joy, fear, anger, relief, and cautious optimism have all been present in my January alone. That roller coaster is profoundly un-centering and exhausting.

At times, I’ve responded to this kind of destabilization by trying to push ahead and power through – to focus on what’s in front of me, not on what’s behind. Sometimes, that’s necessary. But, in the long run, I have found that this approach, while tempting in the moment, ultimately works against the kind of centering I need to move with integrity.

In his book The Body Keeps the Score, Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk discusses the ways trauma reshapes both the body and the brain – and I would add the soul. We are what we experience. Ignoring what we’ve been through, however painful and unsettling in the moment, only means more we have to work through later.

I believe that all of us, in the United States today, are facing our own experiences of individual and collective trauma. There’s a layer of that trauma that’s personal to our identities and circumstances. There’s also a layer that is corporate – coming from the mounting death toll from Covid-19, and efforts to subvert the U.S. election, culminating in the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol and what it symbolizes about our country. Those layers often intersect; on January 6, for example, I experienced the Capitol riot as a threat to our government, a stark demonstration of the power racist, anti-Semitic, and Islamophobic worldviews have in the U.S. today, and also a personal attack on a part of the city where I work and where friends and family live. I can only imagine the trauma of those who hold marginalized identities, people who work in the Capitol building, and others more directly affected than I am.

In these circumstances, what does it look like to move through, not past, to re-center for the work ahead?

To me, it looks like taking the time to acknowledge my experience and to celebrate or mourn as I need to. It means recognizing the gaps – between how I want things to be and how they are, between what our country claims to stand for and how it acts – and radically reimagining how to shrink them. It means accountability and learning. It means absorbing the experience of our personal and national trauma to give us empathy and bring us resilience.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself coming back to a passage from 1st John. It reminds me of what centered movement means, as well as what it looks to move away from it.

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love…There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. (1 John 4:7-8, 18)

As we settle into waiting worship, I invite you to consider: what is your center, and how are you led to move from it now?

Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, January 17, 2021

            Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends met virtually via Zoom for the conduct of business on Sunday, January 17, 2021 with 12 people present.  Clerk Martha Sheldon opened the meeting with the query: How do you seek leadings of the Light in meeting for business as you do in meeting for worship?

1. The December minutes were approved as printed in the Newsletter.

2. Peace and Social Concerns Committee: Ingrid Chalufour reported for the committee:

            Both branches of the committee are actively working on projects that they have described previously. The committee is educating themselves on the Indigenous history of Maine, preparing a couple of events for the Meeting, and also preparing legislative information for those who want to do some lobbying. 

            The subcommittee focusing on books for children is in the process of selecting the books for the New Mainers. They have decided to use the generous budget they have been given as seed money. Once they purchase the books they will put a price on the books going to each of the 20 families and ask for sponsors for each family. They will do something similar when they start to purchase books for classrooms. They ask permission from the Monthly Meeting to put plates in the books for New Mainers saying “Welcome to Maine! Durham Friends Meeting”.

3. We approved the request to add book plates with the statement, “Welcome to Maine! Durham Friends Meeting.”

4. Youth Minister: Wendy Schlotterbeck reported that she will be staffing the NEYM Young Friends virtual retreat as a Resource Person, January 29-31.

5. Christian Education Committee: The committee acknowledges the tremendous wisdom and love from Dorothy Curtis, Amy Kustra and Jeanne Baker-Stinson who will be stepping off the committee.  The committee now includes Kim Bolshaw, Scott Barksdale, Tess Hartford and Wendy Schlotterbeck.

6. Ministry and Counsel: Renee Cote reported that Ministry & Counsel continues to explore the possibilities for involving young people in an educational program that will document the witness of members of Durham Meeting, particularly with the technology aspects.  We discussed sources for IT and video-editing.

            A hybrid worship proposal will be forthcoming. One of the aims of hybrid worship would be to engage those members and attenders who do not participate via Zoom. The hybrid strategy could be for a transition period before pandemic is under control, or for a long-term period. The committee discussed the usefulness of a survey, which could be conducted online or by phone.

7. Trustees: Donna Hutchins sent a report.  The hardwood floor is down in the back hall.  The ¼ round finish molding will be installed shortly.  The molding in the front hall was installed. They are looking into an alternative to the furnace used for the worship room.  The furnace blower had to be replaced.  They are receiving quotes for a new heating system.

8. Finance Committee: Sarah Sprogell reported that Friends were very generous and the expenses were lower than expected due in part to the fact that we didn’t use the building for meetings.  The year ended with a surplus, and $25,000 was transferred to the capital account for much needed work on the meetinghouse.  The end of year finance report is attached.  We expressed our gratitude for their work.

9. Nominating Committee: Kristna Evans reported that a final report will be presented in February. Many committees need additional members.

            The meeting concluded with quiet reflection and prayer for the meeting, larger community, and future national events. Clerk Martha Sheldon read a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: “I have decided to stick with love; hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Dorothy Hinshaw, Recording Clerk

“We Worship on Land That Is a Homeland for the Wabanaki,” by Doug Bennett

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, January 17, 2021

“We worship on land that Is a homeland for the Wabanaki.”  We say those words each Sunday when we gather.  I want to say something more about that today.  I want to tell a fuller version of the story.

 “In the last of the eighteenth century when the present town of Durham went by the name of Royalsborough and was part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts we find the record of the coming of several Quakers from Harpswell among whom were Lemuel Jones, Joseph and Caleb Estes, Andrew Pinkham and Elijah Douglas.  They were soon followed by Samuel Collins of Weare, New Hampshire and Robert and Silas Goddard from Falmouth.  Many of these names have a familiar sound in our ears and many people here present could trace their lineal descent from these founders of our meeting.” 

Those are the opening sentences of Hattie Cox’s history of Durham Friends Meeting that she wrote and presented in 1929 on the occasion of the 100-year anniversary of our current brick Meetinghouse.  These Friends held their first Meeting in the home of Joseph Estes in 1775.

Told that way this is a story that sounds like it starts at the very beginning, the story of the gathering here of a group of Quakers for worship together, a gathering for worship that continues to this day.  But we should realize there is another story that the Hattie Cox version jumps over.  It is a story we should also know and remember.  

What went before are the thousands of years of indigenous peoples living in the Androscoggin River valley — and up and down the Atlantic Coast and across the Americas.  The coming of the Quakers and others of European descent tore apart the communities of these indigenous peoples.  It’s that longer story, the story of peoples on this land, that I want to tell today.  It’s an unhappy story in many ways.  It is a story of disease, disruption and dispossession. 

In their own telling, the indigenous peoples of New England and the Maritime Provinces (as we call them today), were placed here at the beginning of time by Glooskap, a trickster god who still watches over these peoples.  The way of knowing we call archeology tells us that indigenous peoples filtered north into Maine following the retreating glacier, the last glacier to cover this terrain, about 12,000 or 13,000 years ago. 

When European explorers and fishermen first intruded, the indigenous people they encountered numbered, perhaps, 20,000 people in what is now what we call Maine. 

These people lived in villages and encampments.  They followed the seasons harvesting the fruits of the forest, the rivers and the sea when and where these were most abundant.  They grew corn and some other vegetables.  They were a mobile people moving often across the land in a rhythm with the changing seasons. 

They travelled by waterways using birchbark canoes.  The rivers were their highways.  They had ‘carrying places’ where they portaged between streams or around waterfalls.  They lived in wigwams or teepees and long houses that could be moved seasonally.   

On the Androscoggin, there was a large year-round village at Canton Point near the town we call Livermore Falls.  On the Kennebec there was a village on Swan Island and a larger village at Norridgewock, near the town we call Skowhegan.  When the fish ran in the rivers, the alewives and salmon, they camped near the falls, like the ones at Brunswick/Topsham and at Lewiston/Auburn. 

The Indigenous people who lived in what is now Maine were all part of a broad grouping of Eastern Algonquian people.  Those who lived in southern and mid-coast Maine we now call Eastern Abenaki.  We can call the people who lived in the Androscoggin Valley the Arosaguntacook.  (That’s a name from which the word Androscoggin was probably derived.  In their language it means “rocky flats flow” or “a river of rocks refuge.”)  Later, in the 1680s, they joined together with other indigenous people in what is now Maine and the Maritimes to form the Wabanaki Confederacy, a word with the same language root as Abenaki.  It is a word root that means Land of the Dawn.  They were the first people on this continent, the world they knew, to see the dawn each new day

What became of these people when Europeans intruded? Again, this is a story of disease, disruption and dispossession. 

Disease.  Many of us have an image in our heads of armed conflict or warfare between these indigenous peoples and the European settlers.  And there was such conflict, but there is a different and deadlier image we should put earlier than that.  From the moment of first contact, the indigenous peoples were exposed to diseases carried by the Europeans, diseases such as smallpox, diphtheria, plague, chickenpox, measles, cholera, syphilis, typhoid and typhus.  Those diseases proved enormously deadly to indigenous peoples because they had no immunity to these diseases whatsoever. 

Perhaps 75% of the population died in the first decades after contact – that is, in the early 1600s.  These epidemics had their most deadly effect before there were colonial settlements.  The mere intrusion of Europeans — fishermen or trappers — set off epidemics.  The years from 1616 to 1619 – that is, before the Mayflower — are spoken of as ‘the Great Dying’ because in those years, especially in Massachusetts, the deaths were so numerous.  Whole villages were wiped out.  The arrival of Europeans was lethal to the indigenous people already living here. 

The diseases did not just kill people, they also tore apart their ways of living.  It deprived them of able-bodied people. It wiped out their leaders.  It weakened their confidence in themselves, in those they trusted, and in what they knew. 

Disruption.  The diseases that the Europeans carried were one kind of disruption, and there were others.  The European intruders brought goods with them that the indigenous people did not know.  They brought metal goods useful for cooking and for hunting.  They drew the indigenous peoples into trading relationships – for beaver pelts, for example.  The Abenaki began to hunt not just for their own use but to trade with the Europeans.  These new relationships began to change their way of life. 

The Europeans also settled themselves on the land in ways that disrupted the more mobile ways of the indigenous peoples.  English intruders built a fort at the lowest falls on the Androscoggin, where the building we know as Fort Andross now stands.  It was a wooden fort then, but it was a powerful indication that the intruders meant to dominate that site, make it their own.  The intruders fished at the falls not just for their own subsistence, but to send salted fish back to Europe for trade and profit.  The Abenaki were pushed out. 

These were uneasy times.  There were insults and thefts, kidnappings and killings.  At times the two groups, the intruders and the Abenaki, managed to live near one another without much conflict.  But after several decades of the Abenaki trying to live with the European intruders there came to be full-scale war between them.  Beginning about 1675 (that’s about 100 years after the first intruders) and lasting for about another hundred years, there was war in this part of Maine that involved the Abenaki.  These wars go today by a series of names of our making: King Phillip’s War, King William’s War, Queen Anne’s War, Dummer’s War, the French and Indian Wars.  They involved the French as well as the English intruders:  these wars were part and parcel of a long struggle between the English and the French for domination of these lands, and each found allies among the indigenous peoples. 

In the early stages of these wars, the English settlers were largely driven out.  But when these wars were concluded, in the 1760s, it was the Abenaki had been driven out of southern and mid-coast Maine.  They had been driven inland, north and east – scattered and decimated. 

Today, the eastern Abenaki are not a group that is recognized as having continuing existence by the U.S. federal government.  They are a recognized group by the Canadian government in a settlement on the St. Lawrence River in present day Quebec.  And, of course, some Abenaki live among us, drawn to living more like we do, but also holding as they can to their long-established ways. 

Hattie Cox’s history of this Meeting starts where those wars end.  With the Abenaki largely pushed out of southern and mid-coast Maine, the land was open to settlement by European newcomers.  Among those newcomers were the original members of this Quaker Meeting.  In these parts, the wars ended in the mid-1760s, and this Meeting began just a few years later, in 1775. 

Dispossession.  What became of their land?  There were treaties by which the intruders took possession of large tracts of land.  We know those treaties were seen differently by the indigenous people and the intruders.  The Abenaki and other indigenous people did not think of land ownership the way we do.  And, of course, most of these treaties were not respected – especially not respected by the intruders.  Promises were not kept. 

The history of land titles in our part of what we now call Maine is full of disagreement and ambiguity and quite complex.  But we can say that most of the land we on which we live, work and play, those of us who are members of Durham Friends Meeting, were legally secured by Richard Wharton in 1684, in a deal with six members of the Abenaki that Wharton, at least, considered ‘Sagamores’ or leaders.  Whether the Arosaguntacook (the Abenaki in this Androscoggin valley) saw these six as leaders with powers to trade away their land is very much open to doubt.  But we can say that this Wharton Deed (it’s also called the Warumbo Deed after one of the Sagamores) contains this provision: 

“Provided Nevertheless yt nothing in this Deed be Construed to deprive us ye Saggamores Successessors [?] or People from Improving our Ancient Planting grounds nor from Hunting In any of s’d Lands Comgo [?] not Inclosed nor from fishing or fowling for our own Provission Soe Long as noe Damage Shall be to ye English fisherys,”

I believe every current deed of land within the bounds of this Wharton Deed derives from the deal that was struck that day.  (That’s pretty much all the land lived upon by every one of us gathered here today.)  And we should remember that in their understanding the Abenaki never after gave up that crucial legal proviso:  to have use of the land for planting, fishing and fowling for their own provision.   But as the intruders crowded in, the Abenaki were dispossessed.  The animals were driven out, their habitat destroyed.  Forests were cut and the rivers were poisoned.  The land was fenced in and built upon.  Roadways replaced waterways.  These lands were no longer ones familiar to the Abenaki.  The lands no longer sustained their way of life. 

Something like this is what we mean when we say that ‘we gather on land that is a homeland for the Wabanaki.’ 

Perhaps we can remember they had a life here. 

Perhaps we can remember that some still live among us. 


Here are some resources for better understanding of the Wabanaki on the Durham Friends Meeting website. 

You can see a copy and a transcript of the 1684 Wharton Deed on the Maine Historical Society’s Maine Memory Network. 

Cross-posted on Riverview Friend.

Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, December 20, 2020

            Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends met virtually via Zoom for the conduct of business on Sunday, December 20, 2020 with 17 people present.  Clerk Martha Sheldon opened the meeting by reading a Howard Thurman poem: “The Work of Christmas.”

1. The November minutes were approved as printed in the Newsletter.

2.  Ministry and Counsel:  Martha Sheldon reported that Mey Hasbrook has requested sojourning membership in Durham Meeting.  Kalamazoo Friends Meeting sent a supporting letter for Mey, stating that Mey has a minute of religious service among the Religious Society of Friends.

            Memorial minutes were prepared for Susan (Sukie) Rice and Mildred Alexander.  The minute for Sukie was written by Tess Hartford, Sarah Sprogell, and Liana Thompson, using material from Sukie’s obituary, written by Lee Chisholm.  Mildred Alexander’s minute was written by Martha Sheldon with the help from Margaret Wentworth and Charlotte Ann Curtis.  Helpful suggestions were made. These minutes are attached and will be included in the Newsletter and sent to Falmouth Quarterly Meeting which then sends them on to New England Yearly Meeting.  We also requested that Sukie’s memorial minute be sent to the Kakamega Care Center in Kenya. 

3. We approved the request that Mey Hasbrook become a sojourning member in Durham Friends Meeting.

4.  We approved the memorial minutes for Susan Rice and Mildred Alexander.

5. Nomination Committee: Margaret Wentworth reported that Martha Sheldon will be meeting clerk for the first half of the year while they find a replacement, Sarah Sprogell will be added to the Peace and Social Concerns Committee, and the rest of the report will be presented in January. 

6. We approved their report.

7. We approved the addition of Linda Muller to the Nominating Committee.

8. Finance Committee: Katherine Hildebrandt presented the 2021 budget which was approved and will be included in the Newsletter and attached to these minutes.

            The committee requests that $1000 be donated from the Charity Account to a meeting member who is experiencing financial hardship.

9.  We approved the donation of $1000 from the Charity Account to a meeting member.

10.  Trustees: Katharine Hildebrandt reported that the meetinghouse furnace needs to be replaced.  We look forward to an annual financial report from the Trustees.

11.  Christian Education Committee: Wendy Schlotterbeck reported that the wreath making party on November 28 was enjoyed by 9 hearty individuals.  A very special thanks go to Dorothy Curtis who made 2 wreaths for the meetinghouse doors.  At the December 19th advent candlelight spiral in the parking lot Tess Hartford spoke meaningfully about the meaning of light while walking the spiral.  A highlight for many was singing carols together around the candlelit spiral.  They formed a caravan bringing goodies and a few songs of cheer much to the delight of those they visited.

12.  Youth Minister: Wendy Schlottebeck continues to staff New England Yearly Meeting youth activities, and helped with the December 12th Young Friends virtual retreat.  She plans to help staff winter retreats. 

13.Ingrid Chalufour reported for the  Peace and Social Concerns Committee:  The committee is pursuing the leadings identified in the third anti-racist discussion on Oct. 27. To accomplish this ambitious agenda they now have a sub-committee with new members. The committee is working on supporting the sovereignty of the Indigenous people of Maine and beyond. The nature and scope of this work will evolve over the coming months. The subcommittee will focus on the two book projects as reported last month. The committee is planning a series of events to guide us in identifying the collective actions we want to take in relation to Indigenous sovereignty. On January 24 Alicia McBride from FCNL will give the message in meeting and join us after meeting to discuss the FCNL publication, A Theological Perspective on Quaker Lobbying which will be available on the web site; hard copies are also available. Alicia will also share FCNL current work on legislation related to the Native American population. Their second event, February 28, will focus on the New England Yearly Meeting Apology to Native Americans. The apology and suggested actions will be offered as a query in the unprogrammed Meeting with a discussion following at 11:30. They are looking for ways to respectfully include the Native voice in our work.

            We expressed appreciation for this committee’s work.

14. Martha Sheldon reminded us that Falmouth Quarterly Meeting will virtually meet on January 23rd and we approved the following representatives: Sarah Sprogell, Ingrid Chalufour, Ann Ruthsdottir and Joyce Gibson.

15.  Regarding posters and Banners as mentioned in the November minutes: we were reminded that there already is an approved procedure in place: committees are to present their suggestions for messages to be displayed in public to monthly meeting for business for approval.   

16. Meeting Care Coordinator: Mey Hasbrook and Mimi Marstaller facilitated a virtual workshop on the subject of decolonizing.  

            The meeting ended in quiet waiting and a prayer was offered by the clerk, Martha Sheldon.

Recording Clerk, Dorothy Hinshaw

Alicia McBride of FCNL to Speak January 24, 2021

On January 24 Alicia McBride from Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) will join us for Meeting. She will give the message and after Meeting she will join us to discuss the FCNL publication,  A Theological Perspective on Quaker Lobbying. 

This is available for you to read here, or email Doug Bennett (dougb AT earlham DOT edu) to request a copy.

Alicia will also share FCNL current work on legislation related to Indigenous sovereignty.

Café Corner, December 30, 7-8pm, via ZOOM

Cafe Corner is an online social experiment hosted by Durham Friends. We’ll revel in fellowship and creative sharing.  The debut is Wednesday, Dec 30th, from 7pm to 8pm (Eastern Time) for a special edition, ” Holiday Cheer.” 

We’ll continue periodically on select Thursdays;  please read the newsletter and visit the web site for future listings. The Zoom link for Sunday worship will be used to join.

The gathering is facilitated by Mey Hasbrook, Meeting Care Coordinator

“Has Anyone Asked Jesus What He Wants for His Birthday?” by Leslie Manning

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, December 20, 2020

From Richard Rohr:  “The common Christian understanding that Jesus came to save us by a cosmic evacuation plan is really very individualistic, petty, and even egocentric. It demands no solidarity with anything except oneself. We whittled the great Good News down into what Jesus could do for us personally and privately, rather than celebrating God’s invitation to participate in God’s universal creative work.”  

Grace is available to all.  Grace, the unmerited favor of God to all humanity, is always present, always available, always abundant, if we but see it.   This season, called Advent, meaning arrival or coming, is not part of our Quaker understanding since we believe that the long-awaited Jesus is already in our midst.  “Christ is born” not “Christ was born”.

But we welcome it and practice our waiting a little more intentionally.  In this season, say from December 6, the feast of Saint Nicholas to January 6, the feast of the Kings, or Mages, the world joins us in waiting for the Word to become flesh and dwell among us, to dwell within us–Emmanu-el, the in-dwelling God.  Living together – in the things that endure.

This time of darkness deepens and the natural world stills; We celebrate the Festival of Lights of the Jews, the Solstice of the Pagans, the Saturnalia of the Romans, the lighted evergreens  and Yule of the Druids, and call it Christ mas—Christ’s Mass, which is the celebration of his birth, death and resurrection in the rites of the Catholic Church, enacted daily in every Mass.

But, if it is Jesus we are celebrating, has anyone asked him what he wants for his birthday?

The origin stories of the birth of Jesus differ, as accounts written down after being told for generations would.  Matthew tells us what we as observant Jews need to know to fulfill the Messianic prophecies; Luke tells us of the non-Jewish world about the Christos, the anointed one, through the eyes of his mother; Mark cuts right to the chase and tells us about the priest, teacher and healer who calls us to action. 

It might be said that Matthew tells us what we need to know, Mark tells us what we need to do, Luke tells us who we need to know and John, often called the Quaker evangelist, tells us who we need to be.  Living together in love.

And yet, none of this is necessary.  We don’t need to know the origin story of Christianity to be filled with grace.  Christmas happens, in the veins of the needle user and the dealer, whether it is recognized or not.  Grace is available to all.

Whether our drug is consumption or caffeine, Christmas happens.  Whether our shopping is done, our presents mailed, our bills paid, our rent overdue, our stomachs empty or full, Christmas happens.  Whether the baby is conceived before the couple is married, after the ruling power orders his death, the family flees to safety in another land or the angels stop speaking to us in dreams, Christ’s birth, Christ’s death and Christ’s resurrection happen, because grace is available to all.

Have we asked, “What does Jesus want from me for his birth day?”

So, whether this Jesus of Nazareth is Messiah, or Messenger, or Metaphor to you; whether you walk with Jesus in your daily life or honor him as a prophet or use his name as a cuss word, remember, Christmas happens.  And not just on December 25th.  Grace is available to all.  Just ask his mother.

“My soul”, she sang, “magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in the One who has saved me… He has filled the hungry with good things and the rich– he has turned empty, away….

Yet, grace is still available to all.  The Light returns.

“We Wear the Mask,” by Mimi Marstaller

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, December 13, 2020

This week in my class we discussed the poem “We Wear the Mask”. I teach 11th and 12th grade English literature, and most of the students are immigrants and refugees from Central Africa, Central America, the Middle east, and Southeast Asia.

The poem “We Wear the Mask” was written in 1892 by the African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. I’d like to share with you some of my students insights about this poem, so first I’ll read the poem.

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
       We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
       We wear the mask!

Each day we explored different lines of the poem that students drew out as being interesting or bringing ideas to their minds. At the end of class each day we wrote our thoughts, and have been working on editing those thoughts into an essay. I’ll share some of the thoughts that students wrote.

Leya, who is a 12th grader from Tanzania who has been in the US for three years, wrote this.

 Nobody knows your struggle until you tell them, or it comes to them, a common saying is “people throw the spear to the pig and they feel good but if you throw it to the humans it hurts them”. This means if somebody struggles you don’t feel it even when they tell you, you will think they lie. A quote from the poem says, “We sing but oh the clay is vile”. This means to me, we are telling people we struggle but they are not hearing us and even if you tell the world, it will not help you. If we look back at how black people have been tortured, nobody was able to give them the rights, but they were telling people we need the right which is like singing to someone and they don’t even listen to you.

Asho is from Somalia. She has been joining our class on video each day, because her mom’s health is fragile and she doesn’t want to bring exposure from school into the household. Participating in an in-person discussion from Zoom is hard, but Asho does great. She will break into the conversation flow saying “Miss, can I say something?” We in the class are always glad for her insights, and we often spend the rest of the class discussing her point. In this instance, she presented a totally new way to read the poem. She said,

This poem seems to be talking about the problem of celebrity with the media. I think wearing masks is not about the physical mask but another mask that has different meaning. In this poem it seems like the writer is talking about the two faces of the famous people. Famous people have two faces that they used. One is which they show the media, while the other is the one they show when they are far from the media.

Famous people can’t express their feelings in front of the media for many reasons. The most clear reason they don’t express their feelings is that they are scared the world will know them. In the poem it says, “Why should the world be over-wise, In counting all our tears and sighs?“  It seems this line is saying that the world shouldn’t care about us and neither shouldn’t care if we are happy and sad.

Another Somali student, Hamda, wrote about this same idea of whether the world cares for us. She started out by saying,

This poem is an example of how many of us view the world today, which is all people just being selfish, nobody cares about how other people are feeling. People are no longer interested in speaking about how they feel because they will be judged for expressing their feelings. 

When the author says, “Why should the world be over-wise in counting all our tears and sighs?” This sounds like he is saying that the world feels great about noticing that he is in pain and crying.

In a writing conference, I asked Hamda to say more about how she thinks people have changed in how they relate to others. Had she seen such changes over her own lifetime? In her parents’ generation? When she answered, I encouraged her to add that to her essay. Here is what she wrote:

People always change after they fight for unification, in my own experience I think that selfishness was beginning after my parents’ generation because they had developed as a nation and all they could think of was getting ahead of each other.

            These three students were not the only ones to identify the problems of competition and judgment in our society. Their comments reveal their understanding that while showing one’s true self sounds like a good thing, the mask provides protection from the judgment and violent misunderstanding of others. The mask protects us, but they acknowledged there is a cost to concealing the true light within us. The last student I’ll quote is a young woman named Aluet. She is from South Sudan.

Everyone wears a mask and we all know, if we do then why are we wearing the mask? We cannot live life peacefully if we keep wearing the mask, we are also teaching this generation to wear the mask.

The prayer these students’ words bring to me this morning is,

Guide me in my own use or disuse of the mask. And help me create, especially for the young people in my life, a space where the mask is slightly less necessary. Where we can work toward creating the kind of peace Aluet mentions, a peace based on our understanding of each other’s truths, not the phony peace that comes from masking our differences. Help me remember that that space is created mostly by listening. Listening without judgment. And let the light of our joy and our complexity and our pain and our passion shine from beneath the mask. Amen.

Susan Bellows (Sukie) Rice, 1945-2020

Memorial Minute for Susan (Sukie) Bellows Rice, 1945-2020

            Susan (Sukie) Rice was born in New Rochelle, NY on November 1, 1945 to Charles D. and Winifred Rice. She grew up in an old farmhouse in the countryside, about an hour by train from Manhattan. There, her love of music, theater, cats, dogs, and the world of nature took root in the warmth of a loving home. In the 1960’s, after earning a BA in Psychology at Hiram College, she went to work for an advertising agency in New York City. Simultaneously, she immersed herself in the Morningside Heights Friends Meeting.

The Society of Friends became a lifelong source of strength and inspiration for Sukie. As the Quaker values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship grew in importance for her, her work in commercial advertising held less and less allure. In 1969 she left New York City and moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she worked at two Boston area hospitals during the 1970s. Here, she threw herself into a host of nonviolent civil disobedience actions against the Vietnam War, some of which led to her arrest, and one to a couple of weeks in jail. As the Vietnam War was ending, she joined the staff of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). There, she allied AFSC with the anti-nuclear Clamshell Alliance, and helped train protesters and organize successive nonviolent occupations of the construction site of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant.

In 1971 Sukie met and fell in love with Lee Chisolm. Later, they would acknowledge to each other that it was indeed love at first sight. Through Lee she was introduced to Anthroposophy, the spiritual philosophy and teachings of Rudolph Steiner. From that seed, planted early in her consciousness and cultivated through study motivated by her deep love and admiration for Lee, together they formed a shared spiritual path. Steiner’s teachings came to be the cord that strengthened and infused their lives as a couple and produced meaning and purpose in their work together in the world. Anthroposophy, along with Quaker faith and practice, became the foundation from which Sukie grew in spirit and presence. And in Lee’s own words, “she drew ideas from the ozone. She was a natural conduit for spiritual inspiration.” 

In the late 1970s Sukie and Lee moved to Maine, where Sukie joined the Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends in 1979. In the 1980s Sukie and Lee moved to Freeport, where they started a family. When their first child, Adam, was not quite three, Sukie and Lee resolved to start a Waldorf School. For the next several years, Sukie worked indefatigably. She held informational and fundraising events, pulling together a nucleus of founding parents, a teacher, and eventually a class. What began as a little kindergarten of a dozen students continues today as a mature K-12 school known as the Maine Coast Waldorf School.

As her children grew older, Sukie enrolled in the University of Southern Maine in the 1990s for a degree in music education, and for the next twenty years she was a full time K-5 music teacher in the Portland Public Schools. She also acted with the Freeport Community Players, later becoming their musical director. In this role, she worked on a handful of plays and annual performances of Amahl and the Night Visitors for seven years. Stepping away from the Freeport Community Players, Sukie next founded the Greater Freeport Community Chorus, which she directed for six years.

Sukie was an active member of Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends for four decades. She served the meeting in a variety of roles over the years, sometimes wearing multiple hats. For many years she was the music director for the meeting’s annual Christmas and Easter choirs. She also served on Ministry and Counsel, Peace and Social Concerns Committee, Finance Committee, and as both Recording Clerk and Presiding Clerk. 

In 2001 Sukie was inspired by a small group of Quaker women from Kenya who were providing a feeding program to AIDS orphans in their community of Kakamega. Sukie volunteered her time extensively to support this program, ultimately founding Friends of Kakamega, a New England based program that partners with its Kenyan counterparts to support their grassroots mission. Through her work with Friends of Kakamega, Sukie spent the last two decades of her life helping to support the well-being and education of vulnerable children in western Kenya, giving hope to hundreds of young Africans. True to her character, she grew to know, love, and individually connect with both the children served by the project, and the Americans who embraced the opportunity that Sukie gave them to help. Her son John has continued that work at the Kakamega Care Center.

Trailblazer that she was, later in life Sukie also devoted time to exploring the topic of death and dying and the spiritual journey of the soul during this final passage. This in turn led her to the next frontier of green burial for herself as well as others. With the assistance of family, close friends and members of the Durham Friends Meeting, she realized her desire to be buried in this manner and so opened the way for others to follow in the newly dedicated lot for green burials in the Lunt Cemetery.

Sukie’s great energy, compassion, and integrity guided her life in remarkable ways. As one Friend described her so well, “Sukie has been the spark and flame of a better life for so many.” While her work and life were always filled with purpose and encouragement, particularly memorable was her joy. Sukie asked us to remember her joy. We do, Sukie. We surely do.

Sukie passed from this life on July 17, 2020.  She is survived by her husband, Lee Chisholm, and sons Adam, Ian, and John Chisholm.

Mildred Alexander, 1930-2020

Mildred Alexander, long time member of Durham Friends Meeting, passed from this life on September 18, 2020.    She was a resident of Pinkham Brook Rd. Durham and was born in Lisbon Falls, 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 jigsaw puzzles, her cats and most of all time spent with her great grandchildren.  Mildred was an active member of the Meeting Trustees.  While a trustee she was the Meeting janitor and went the extra mile to keep the building in good shape.  One friends fond memory of Mildred was that she was good-natured with a great sense of humor.  ‘Once when there was a jug of Babcock’s apple cider in the meeting frig Mildred drank a cup.  I love cider, she said.   The friend said, especially when it is about to turn.  Mildred replied.  ‘Me too!  Look at us! Drinking hard cider in the Meetinghouse!’  Mildred was one of many from the Meeting who worked at the Maine Idyll for many years. 

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 by a daughter Pauline (Alexander) Harvey in 2006 and three sisters, Annette Tibbets, Beverly Craig and Bernice Curtis.

Woman’s Society Report, November 16, 2020

Durham Friends Woman’s Society is a subgroup of United Society of Friends Women International (USFWI). USFWI is a Quaker organization that, for generations, has done extensive work to support communities in need throughout the world, and students in college and university, through card ministry and financial donations. All are welcome. Our next meeting is Monday, December 21 at 6:30 p.m. via the Meeting Zoom account.

Six women met Monday night, November 16, for fellowship and sharing a program, prayer requests and resources. The program wove together wisdom from Simone Weil’s book Love in the Void: Where God Finds Us, and a Quaker Kenyan woman’s story of being called to ministry. We were left with the query: “Do we have a willingness to start with love in discerning how to respond to God’s calls?”

For years the Durham Friends Woman’s Society has organized a mitten tree at the meetinghouse. This year we invite all who are led to help in this effort to donate individually to the charity of your choice. A list of possible places will be posted in the near future for anyone needing ideas. Blessings to you this Christmas season!  

~Martha Hinshaw Sheldon

“Advent Message,” by Beth Bussiere Nichols

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, December 6, 2020

Opening Advent Hymn: Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

Words: Charles Wesley, 1744. Music: Rowland Hugh Pritchard, 1844

Come, thou long expected Jesus
Born to set thy people free
From our fears and sins release us

Let us find our rest in thee

Israel’s strength and consolation
Hope of all the earth thou art
Dear desire of every nation
Joy of every longing heart

Born thy people to deliver
Born a child and yet a king
Born to reign in us forever
Now thy gracious kingdom bring

By thine own eternal spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone
By thine own sufficient merit
Raise us to thy glorious throne

Today begins the second week of Advent so I was encouraged to look in the Advent section of the hymnal. In a Friends hymnal, who knew? There I met the Advent carol Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. Though it is a couple of hundred years old it was new to me. As I went through my day, I sang it to myself trying to learn it. Later I checked the words and discovered that I had changed Long-expected to Unexpected. How very Advent! We are waiting and expecting but what actually arrives is always in some important way, every year, Unexpected. Sometimes it is what we know but have forgotten.

One important part of my spiritual journey was examining the spiritual seasons of the year when my children were young. How could I take my inward Quaker experience and bring it to life to invite my children to connect?

Early Friends distained separating spiritual truths and giving them specific days. But Early Friends also lived in an ecclesiastical age when the holy days and language of the church were everywhere. Those days in turn were built on the older fabric of our knowing and celebrating that creator and creation were one. How to invite my children into the mystery?

One thing I did was to look at many traditions then trust my Inner Quaker Guide. My mother’s Presbyterian tradition of daily lighting of Advent candles was a joy in my childhood, an invitation to a special season. As I researched, I learned of an Advent practice in far northern Scandinavia to take a wheel off the wagon and use it as the Advent candle holder. The message was: It is time to stop going into town and running errands. It is time to be still, to be centered. This really spoke to my condition. I have always been someone with to do lists for work, family, meeting, neighborhood, etc. In fact, I even have Post-Its with sub to do lists on top of my long written to do list. If we aren’t careful the season before Christmas adds a layer of more to do lists.

The other thing, which I heard in so many traditions was that the spiritual calendar, indeed the turning of the world, requires our human prayers and participation. The pivoting of the season from the longest, darkest night to lengthening days requires our stopping, our centering. This year is a special challenge. How do we wait when we feel stuck? What does it mean to take the wheel off the wagon when we never got a chance to use it? The wagon has been sitting in the yard. The vines have been growing over it — since March.

I learned something about waiting when I was pregnant with my first son Colin. I went four weeks past my due date. Something they wouldn’t allow anymore. I remember standing in the supermarket a week past my long-expected delivery date and listening to people complain about the slowness of the line, the checkout clerk… I thought these people are amateurs— they know nothing about real waiting. This year, I am waiting: to hug my grown children and my dear friends, to gather once again with our beloved community in our beloved meetinghouse. I long to visit with our friend who lost her husband to COVID and did not get to be with him for what turned out to be the last 3 weeks of his life. We are living in exile— forcibly separated from what we have felt was our rightful place. We are given advice on how to live in exile in Jeremiah 29:4-7,11-13.

 Thus, says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce.  6 Marry and have sons and daughters; … 7 Also seek the shalom of the city where I took you as captives in exile, and pray to Adonai for it—for in its shalom will you have shalom.”….11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart.

The wisdom in exile is to live into the small acts of our daily life, plant gardens, care for our families. Seek shalom where we are. Ask for the Divine blessing of shalom for our place of exile. If you seek me with all your heart you will see, I am with you. Emmanuel!

Starting when the kids were young, each year we put up the old family creche. We placed Mary and Joseph and the animals under the roof. The Advent tradition that we created with our children was to light the advent candles each night and sing a carol. Beneath the Advent candleholder we placed the empty manager. We had spools of thread and scissors and invited all to name good deeds which they had noticed. For each good deed we added a thread to the manger. Thus, we made the invisible visible.

Advent begins
Each good deed remembered adds a thread
Christmas morning!

On Christmas the Christ child is placed on the thread softened manger.

Christ shall have the rude stable no longer but shall be born into his rightful place in the human heart.

The small acts of our lives became the bed of the holy child, the long-expected, unexpected child. The invitation of advent is to make sacred the everyday and that is really the difference between being stuck and waiting. Not what we do but the spirit that infuses it. Shalom. The Word becomes flesh and dwells with us. This doesn’t make creation sacred. It has been from the beginning. As humans, we need moments, perhaps even seasons and celebrations, to remind us that that sense of separation from God and all creation is illusionary. Emmanuel, we sing! Emmanuel! God with us!

Closing Advent Hymn: O Come O Come Emmanuel

Words from 12 cent. Latin, trans John M Neal, 1851 and Henry Sloan Coffin in 1916; Music: Ancient plain Song, from a French Missal, arr. By Thomas Helmore, 1854.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
And order all things, far and nigh;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And cause us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
All peoples in one heart and mind;
Bid envy, strife and quarrels cease;
Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, November 15, 2020

Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends convened virtually via Zoom for the conduct of business on Sunday, November 15, 2020 with 15 people present. Martha Hinshaw Sheldon opened the meeting with a quote by Cai Quirk, who brought the message today in meeting: “How do we recognize that of God in all? When it shows up uniquely, how can we create a place of wholeness for all?”

  1. The October minutes were approved as printed in the newsletter.

2. Martha Sheldon presented a revised edition of the Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends Handbook, which will be sent out via e-mail to members and attenders for discernment, seeking approval in December.

3. Peace and Social Concerns: Ingrid Chalufour reported that over three evenings the committee met to discuss Becoming Antiracist, and leadings to take action. A number of action ideas were generated and the committee asks for your approval to move forward on these in the name of the meeting. Below they describe three sets of actions. Each has a subcommittee interested in doing the work involved.

Supporting sovereignty of the Indigenous people of Maine: This will involve several sets of activities, including conducting research to learn more about the meeting land and its use by Wabanaki and the land currently called the 250 Anniversary Park in Brunswick. We will propose new wording for our acknowledgement of our Wabanaki land. We also seek to build stronger relationship with the Native youth group that uses the meetinghouse. Finally, we want to lobby for state and federal legislation that supports the sovereignty of Indigenous populations. To do this, we will build relationships with Friends Committee on Maine Public Policy and FCNL.

Getting social justice books to children: The committee will research where there is need, create a list of books focused on the 5- to 8-year-old age, and ask for donations to purchase the books. We are also going to donate books as holiday gifts to the 50 children in New Mainer families in Brunswick. We are asking for donations to help pay for this project.

Building stronger relationship with FCNL: We have invited Alicia McBride (FCNL staff) to attend Meeting on Jan. 24 and talk to us about their paper titled, The Theological Perspective in Quaker Lobbying. She will also share the current work of FCNL and be asked to bring a message in meeting.”

We expressed our support and approval for these actions and expressed appreciation for the committee’s work. 

4. Christian Education Committee: Wendy Schlotterbeck reported that the Halloween party on October 30 was greatly enjoyed by 20 people! Ten kids and ten adults pressed cider, tried their turn at donuts on a string, maneuvered a fun obstacle course and cooked hot dogs over our fire pit. A very special thanks goes to KJ Williams for serving the condiments, and to Kathy Williamson, who managed the cider pressing and baked some amazing homemade cookies and donuts!

There will be a wreath making party on November 28, 1-3 p.m. in the horse shed. Dress warmly! Bring greens and pruners if you have some. Other materials will be provided. 

5. Youth Minister: Wendy continues to staff NEYM Young Friends activities, and the bi-weekly Art Group. She will be a Resource Person (RP) for the December Young Friends Virtual Retreat.  She ends her reports with this statement: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  —Martin Luther King Jr.

6. Ministry and Counsel: Renee Cote reported for the committee. They noted the need to be tender and inclusive with all members and attenders with different political views.

They reported that the fifth Sunday of this month (November 29), usually unprogrammed, will have a speaker who could only speak on that date. Some would prefer more unprogrammed time; others find extended silence difficult if they are Zooming on the phone. With the thought that unprogrammed meetings may encourage more vocal ministry, they will try, for three months, December through February, possibly into March, to have unprogrammed worship on the last Sunday of the month, with the Care of Meeting person offering a query on that day.

We were informed that people can now access the meeting calendar on Google. We were reminded that approval of the monthly meeting is needed for regular, weekly or monthly use of the meetinghouse as a place of gathering by outside groups, and CDC guidelines are followed. One group (Reiki) has already scheduled a meeting in November which we approved today. Research will be sought regarding outside groups using the meetinghouse.

It was noted with sadness that Jane Walters died on October 27, 2020. A Friends Note was sent regarding Bob Walters’ ongoing health issues and the need for a non-toxic environment.

7. Finance Committee: Katharine Hildebrandt requested that $25,000 be transferred from the Checking Account to the Capital Account to cover repairs and improvements to the meetinghouse. 

8. We approved the transfer of funds ($25,000) from the Checking Account to the Capital Account.

9. Treasurer: We approved splitting the $1,500 contribution in memory of Clarabel Marstaller and Susan Rice, as reported last month, in half, $750.00 donated to the Charity Account for Susan Rice, and $750.00 to the Capital Account for Clarabel Marstaller.

10. Trustees: Donna Hutchins sent a report and stated that brick pointing is finished on the east side of the meetinghouse, and a new window has been installed in the meetinghouse gable. The front drainage has been addressed. They have received recertification for tree growth until January 2030. There is ongoing work in the two entry halls.

11. Meeting Care Coordinator: Mey Hasbrook is seeking more interviews with members and attenders via Zoom. She is looking for future Sunday worship message bringers. 

12. The Carbon Footprint ad hoc committee reported that John Reuthe of Vassalboro Meeting, who is a volunteer with the Sustain Mid-Maine Coalition environmental action group, presented a proposal for lowering the carbon footprint of the meetinghouse. They emphasize working from the basement up, reducing the entrance of cold air, and propose immediate actions and a series of future actions in three phases. These details will be shared with Trustees, and attached to these minutes. Ezra Smith volunteered to help with these projects. We expressed appreciation for the work of this committee.

13. A concern was raised regarding banners and posters displayed outside the meetinghouse and the need for monthly meeting approval. Ministry and Counsel and committees will discuss this issue, and the proper way of proceeding will be discussed in December. 

14. The Nominating Committee does not currently have a full committee, and some of the committees need new members.

            Martha Sheldon closed the meeting with the same quote she read at the beginning of these minutes, and said, “Go in peace; blessings to you.”

Dorothy Hinshaw, Recording Clerk

“Decolonizing in Everyday Life,” December 10, 7:30 to 8:45 pm

“Decolonizing in Everyday Life” is a worship-focused discussion hosted by Durham Friends Meeting on Thursday, December 10th, from 7:30pm to 8:45pm (Eastern Time). The event will use the Zoom link from Sunday worship. We especially invite local and area Friends to join us for a time of deep listening and self-examination.

The evening is a springboard from a recent series on anti-racism. A common point of reference will be Sacred Instructions: Indigneous Wisdom for Living Spirit-Based Change by Sherri Mitchell, Weh’na Ha’mu Kwasset.  A land acknowledgement and introduction will be made by Ingrid Chalufuour, clerk of the Peace and Social Concerns Committee. An extended time in small groups will be offered.

Contributors are Mimi Marstaller, member of Durham Friends currently residing in Salt Lake City; and Mey Hasbrook, a Durham attender and member of Kalamazoo Friends Meeting (Michigan). Mimi will share experiences as a teacher about the “throes of labor pains” within the education community around de-centered collective action, racism, and equity. Mey will offer reflections as a person of mixed lineage (Cherokee-Irish Descent) and a traveling minister among the Religious Society of Friends.

“What Can We Name That Is Ours?” By Fritz Weiss

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, November 29, 2020, by Fritz Weiss, a member of Portland Friends Meeting (NEYM)

One of the ways I understand the world is through stories.  I am beginning today’s message with two stories.

God’s truck: For as long as I can remember, my Uncle Bob owned a small Toyota pick-up truck. It was mostly for bringing in his winter wood, but even after he started having his wood delivered, he kept a truck.  For the twenty years I lived nearby, anytime I needed a truck, I could use Bob’s.  He would buy it, insure it and register it, and I would maintain it, inspect it and keep it fueled.  Bob also gave the church next door a key and they used it whenever they had need, and he gave a key to the family shelter who used it to move families into the shelter or into housing. I think for the last five years of his life, Bob never drove his truck.  He referred to it as “God’s truck”.  It was ours, and it was the church’s and it was the shelter’s truck.

We don’t do that in Sharon: In Vermont, the first Saturday in May is Green-up Day.  Communities organize to clean the roads of any litter exposed by the melting snow.  In Sharon, my town, I was on the conservation commission and we organized a community wide day of picking up litter, sorting the trash, cleaning the riverbanks, collecting scrap metal, used tires, motor oil and electronics.  At the end of the day we had a community pizza party hosted by the local high school.  It could be discouraging as year after year there was so much litter to clean up.  One November morning as I walked into the local store before work, Dustin drove up in his truck and jumped out.  He was excited, and told us how, as he drove to work, he had seen someone throwing garbage over the guard rail.  He had stopped his truck and jumped out and told the driver “We don’t do that in Sharon!” and had made the man climb over the guard rail, pick up all the trash and put it back in the truck.  And then he thanked me for organizing Green-up every year. In our community effort and celebration, we had created a community value that we shared, that was ours.

This summer the FUM mission project was supporting Friends in Turkana, Kenya.  There was no travel, so the support was virtual.  In an FUM newsletter a query for the children was posed. “In Turkana, land is held in common for the use of the whole community, and there are no title deeds for privately owned land in Turkana County. Can you think of some things that are ours, rather than mine or yours?”  This query stayed with me and eventually led me to remember the two stories I just told.  This morning I am sharing some of the thoughts that were prompted by this query.

In the same newsletter there have been excerpts from Howard Thurman’s essays. In one of these he wrote about how Jesus taught at a moment in history when the Roman Empire had taken all that the people of Israel thought of as theirs – their kingdom, their city, their temple – and in that moment Jesus taught a new story  that ours is the kingdom of god, that we all are welcome, we all belong and that there is enough.

What can we name that is Ours?  … the kingdom of god, this meeting, our relationships, shared experiences, God’s truck, shared community values  ..

And then if all this is ours, then how do we forget and begin thinking of ‘mine’ and ‘yours’ instead.

What contributes to thinking of “mine” “yours” “theirs”.  What separates us from each other, and in so doing, separates us from the divine;

In our moment in history there is a powerful story being told, that there is not enough and the other is going to take my safety away, it is a story of fear and anger and greed and pride which divides us from each other. It is a story of ‘othering’.  A story that tells us that some of us do not belong, are not welcome that there is not enough.

The query for the children left me with the query, “Are we able to tell the powerful stories of a kingdom that is ours, where we are with and of each other, profoundly connected? Can we tell these stories with power and salience such that minds are changed? Can we respond to the story of fear and anger with stories that connect us?  Stories which convince that there is enough for all, and that each in our own particularity is welcome.  Stories of thanksgiving.  It is one of the challenges of this time for people of faith. To tell the new story again.  As I say this, I realize that this is a call to evangelism! To share the good news.

Last week I joined the program offered by the BTS center (the successor organization to the Bangor Theological Seminary) on “Imagining a new Church”. Each of the two guests cited Wendell Berry’s poem “What we Need is Here” and the program closed with the entire poem read as a closing blessing.  I am closing today’s message with the last few lines of that poem.

“… what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.”

We Gather on Land That Is a Homeland for the Wabanaki

Durham Friends Meeting sits on land that is a homeland for the Wabanaki for centuries. Nearly all of us who regularly worship at Durham Friends live and work and play in this Wabanaki homeland.

We are in the homeland of the Wabanaki, the People of the Dawn. We extend our respect and gratitude to the many Indigenous people and their ancestors whose rich histories and vibrant communities include the Abenaki, Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot Nations and all of the Native communities who have lived here for thousands of generations in what is known today as Maine, New England, and the Canadian Maritimes. We make this acknowledgement aware of continual violations of water, territorial rights, and sacred sites in the Wabanaki homeland. [from the Abbe Museum website]

At its 2020 Annual Session, New England Yearly Meeting brought forward a draft Apology to Native Americans, to be considered at the 2021 Annual Session. More resources from New England Yearly Meeting for considering the draft Apology are here.

Below are some resources for better understanding of the Wabanaki people.

The Wabanakis of Maine and the Maritimes: A Resource Book by and About Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, Micmac and Abenaki Indians, Prepared and Published by the Wabanaki Program of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC, 1989).

Resources at the Abbe Museum Educator Hub

Holding Up the Sky – Maine Historical Society Exhibit via Maine Memory Network

Wabanaki CollectionUniversity of New Brunswick’s Mi’kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre

Native Americans and the Amascongan and European Exploration and Native American Contact, Bethel Historical Society

The 2020 Annual Meeting of the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust featured presentations by Joseph Hall (a Bates College professor) and Kerry Hardy (author of Notes on a Lost Flute).

Doug Bennett, We Worship On Land That is a Hoimeland for the Wabanaki, Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, January 17, 2021



Approximate territorial range of Eastern Abenaki groups

Woman’s Society Report, October 19, 2020

Durham Friends Woman’s Society met October 19, in the evening, via Zoom. Nine women listened to a program given by Qat Langelier on “Go and Tell all the Nations, a call to tell and listen.” We were encouraged to speak with humility and to listen to others from other lands who can teach us. Qat also shared from the book Bread for the Resistance by Donna Barber on ongoing conversion, or what Quakers call continuing revelation.

David Dexter made a donation to Humane Society via the Woman’s Society in honor of Mildred Alexander. Thank you, David! 

Prayers were shared for Friends throughout the world dealing directly with COVID-19. The monthly Tedford house meal was delivered to a smaller group at the house due to COVID-19. Groceries are accepted at the family shelter by contacting Conversations and sharing of stories ended the meeting as we continue to grow in our journeys. 

The next meeting is Monday, November 16, at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom. All are welcome to attend.

Meetings for Healing, Thursday Evenings at 7pm

Durham Friends are invited to join an ongoing series of Meetings for Healing, hosted by Portland Friends Meeting on Thursdays at 7 p.m. From the convenors: “Meeting for Worship for Healing is an old Quaker tradition. Our goal with this meeting is to focus on the physical and spiritual illnesses of the current world. It’s not intended to be the same as a full meeting for worship but instead is meant to be focused communal prayer. We may be blessed with a time of deep silence. Messages may arise but should be de-centered from our ego.”

Meetings are held via Zoom. Because of changes to Zoom you may be in a waiting room. Don’t worry, someone will let you in soon. (,Meeting ID: 919 2513 5193)

“And So We Pass from One Season to Another,” by Doug Bennett

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, November 8, 2020

And so we pass from one season to another. 

The leaves are mostly gone now, gone ‘til next spring, their bright colors just a memory.  The sun is down by late afternoon.  It’s growing chilly.  Mid-day there still may be some warmth in the sun, but there’s a bite in the air toward nightfall that’s there again when we greet the morning. 

It’s a great cycle of life, and I’m one who loves to live in a place that has four robust seasons.  I say this even as I know that I hate the shortening of the days.  There are pleasures, too, in fall, I know, and pleasures, too in winter.  The sun will return. 

And so we pass from one season to another. 

Sometimes seasons are human-made.  We’ve just passed out of one season with yesterday’s election announcements.  I’m sure some hearts were gladdened and others disappointed.  I’m feeling a little of both.  We’ve heard the speeches and taken down the lawn signs. 

And so we pass from one season to another.

I know all this, and yet I also feel like time is standing still, going nowhere.  ‘Every day is Wednesday’ I’ve found myself saying to distant friends for the past few months when they ask how I’m doing.  It’s true, every day is the same, and tomorrow will bring nothing new.  I already know that.  In this pandemic, it feels like someone has hit the pause button on the cosmic remote control.  Nothing moves forward.  The story doesn’t advance. 

We’re like the Israelites stuck in the desert for 40 years unable to enter the Promised Land. 

Of course this week, it seemed like every day was Tuesday, not Wednesday.  Something was supposed to happen on Tuesday.  Tuesday was supposed to be a day when the votes were all counted.  Tuesday was supposed to be a day when the we knew something about the future.  But it didn’t happen that day.  Then it didn’t happen the next or the next, and I found myself thinking it would never happen. 

I’m stuck between these two accounts.  The seasons are turning, the cosmic ones and the human ones.  Time is standing still. 

I’m trying to find my bearings, my spiritual bearings, stuck between these two accounts.  The seasons are turning, the cosmic ones and the human ones.  Time is standing still.  How am I called to faithfulness between these two accounts, these two rhythms, that each have a hold on me? 

Neither seems to be doing me anything good.  One is telling me I’m irrelevant.  Watching the seasons turn I can find myself thinking I don’t have anything to do with any of this.  I can think I have no responsibility. We’re just watchers; it doesn’t make any difference what we do.

But watching time stand still also makes me think I’m irrelevant.  Nothing I do matters; nothing anyone does seems to matter.  We’re just waiting. 

Most people who call themselves Christians follow a liturgical calendar that tells them what spiritual season we are in. It tells them what Saints days to celebrate, or what feast days s are to be observed, or what Bible passages are to be read each Sunday.  Advent leading to Christmas is a season.  Lent leading to Easter and then Pentecost is a season.  Some portions of year are “ordinary time.”

The first Quakers pretty much rejected this way of thinking or doing things.  Just as they believed no persons had special access to God, just as they believed no buildings were more sacred than any others, they also believed no days were more special or sacred than any other.  Early Friends didn’t celebrate Christmas or Easter.  Friends schools were in session on those days. 

For me this goes a little too far.  I like observing the seasons – both the seasons of nature and the seasons of the soul.  I know that I should be the same person each and every day.  I know I should be caring for the same things each and every day.  But it helps me to be reminded, in turn, of various things.  It helps me focus. 

It’s very useful to me that there is a sabbath, a day each week on which I am especially called to worship with others. 

In the same way, it’s useful for me to have a season of thankfulness, a season in which we especially turn our hearts and minds to feeling grateful for the many, many blessings we have received.  Even in this time of pandemic, even in this time of polarization, I know there are many things for which I should be thankful, for which I am thankful if I’ll take a moment to notice. 

I’m grateful for the gift of life,

I’m grateful for the gift of time,

I’m grateful for the gifts of family and friends.

I’m grateful for the love that surrounds us all. 

This year I’m especially grateful that a season of Thanksgiving, a holy season, a spiritual season, follows a season of political combat.  I’m grateful to turn my focus to something else.  As the hymn we sang this morning puts it: “Come, then, thankful people, come, Raise the song of harvest home.” 

Perhaps that is all I should say.  But just as I know that many things have their seasons, I know that some things do not. 

I recently re-read a Pendle Hill pamphlet by Wilmer Cooper.  He was a midwestern Friend who was the first Dean of the Earlham School of Religion.  Ellen and I got to know Wilmer and his wife, Emily, when we were at Earlham. The pamphlet is titled “The Testimony of Integrity.”  Wilmer begins it by saying that for many years he had a hard time giving a short, helpful answer to the question “What Is a Quaker,” or “What Is Quakerism?”  And then he realized “Perhaps the word ‘integrity’ comes as close as any single-word answer.” A Quaker is one who lives a life of integrity.   

We Quakers speak often of the testimonies, and more often than not we’re thinking of the peace testimony or the testimony of equality.  But Wilmer Cooper says “’integrity’ is the essential Quaker testimony.”  At all times and all seasons, a Quaker is called to speak the truth and to live a life that is genuine and straightforward. 

Britain Yearly Meeting’s Faith and Practice puts it this way:  “Arising from the teaching of Jesus as related in the writings of John and James: ‘Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no’, Quakers perceived that with a conscience illuminated by the Light, life became an integrated whole with honesty as its basis.”

Even as the seasons change, we are called to live with integrity in all things.  That is something we can do, each of us every day. 

And so we pass from one season to another.

Also posted on Riverview Friend