The agenda and materials for the September 18, 2022 business meeting of Durham Monthly Meeting can be found here.
From our Pastor:
The medieval theologian and mystic Meister Eckhart said that the most real kind of prayer is the prayer of gratitude.
For the past three years I have stood on the Facing Bench, most Sundays, and offered to Durham Meeting a message (a number of them have been published here in our Durham Friends Newsletter). Most of my life, before coming to Durham, was spent in preparation — in getting ready to be a part of Durham Friends Meeting. There were years of life experience, nearly a decade as a Hospice Chaplain, and nine years of post-graduate theological study. Once I arrived — quite quickly — almost immediately, I could say: I am at home, at home in the parsonage, at home spiritually in Durham Meeting, at home in Maine.
Now that it is time for me to retire, I’d like to say a little about what it’s been like to prepare and to rise in Meeting for Worship to offer a message. I’d like to say something about where these messages have come from.
The clearest thing that I can say about vocal ministry — the Sunday messages — is that each of them has been a surprise … a gift. I’d sit down to prepare, thinking: “I’ll say this or that …” only to be surprised, again and again, by a completely unforeseen direction taken. Once mid-message I even found myself suddenly wondering what the astronauts felt when they gained God’s perspective, seeing the whole Earth — as one. How amazing!
Many of you have heard me say that after eight or so months I had really said all that I had to say. There was a time of learning to be willing to have no idea what the next message would be; a time of learning to wait and to listen. And, of course, to pray. So I am full of gratitude … and coming to understand that it is from the deep well of our Worship together that I have been drawing the spiritual sustenance to rise and offer a message. Our covered Worship together is where the messages come from.
And so, during the transition in our Meeting, I invite us all to enter a time of being willing to wait, to listen and to pray together as we are led toward a future that will no doubt be full of surprises … and, of course, gratitude.
Contemplative Prayer Group will be meeting on the second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at 24 Cedar St., Brunswick.
November 2013 to February 2014
Thank you for being willing to prepare refreshments!
Please switch if needed.
Directions are posted in the kitchen. Supplies need to be donated- check what is already available in the kitchen. “Basic” refreshments are coffee, milk and/or half & half, tea, juice, and crackers. People appreciate having cheese, sweets, veggies, or fruit, but it can be as simple as you like. The Woman’s Society makes this schedule with people who come to Meeting regularly and have been willing to prepare refreshments in the past. We have not checked with each person regarding dates. If you would like to be added to or taken off this list, see Nancy Marstaller. Thanks!
3 Sarah Sprogell, Eileen Babcock
10 Sue Wood, David Marstaller
17 Betsy Stivers & family
24 Charlotte Anne Curtis, Clarabel Marstaller
1 Kathy & Harmony Brown
8 Jeannie Baker Stinson & family
15 Linda Muller & Jim McCarthy
22 Eileen Babcock, Mildred Alexander
29 Nancy Marstaller, Jo-an Jacobus
5 Margaret Wentworth, David Dexter
12 Dorothy & Ed Hinshaw
19 Brenda Masse, Wayne Hollingworth
26 Kitsie Hildebrandt, Sarah Sprogell
2 Sukie Rice, Don Goodrich
9 Dotty DeLoach, Susan Wood
16 Angie & David Reed 22 Dorothy Curtis, Daphne Clement
22 Dorothy Curtis, Daphne Clement
Two weeks ago Carl Williams sent the devotion copied below …
“God, the farmer of my soul, who sows fields of possibility and gardens of loving-kindness make me your
seedling (Psalm 1:3):
— call me to be your root, reaching deep into the earth, drawing nurture and substance from the deep well of
— and the stem, pushing out the green, green leaves of compassion and bright blossoms of understanding.
— and then to return to your source, to compost and break down, to nurture others and to prepare for new
I share it with you here because so many of us (Durham Meeting Friends) are in the garden now. We may
be planting only a small flower box on the front-door step, or we may be small farmers laboring on a huge plot
full of veggies and flowers, or perhaps somewhere in between, working a modest-sized bit of earth with just a
couple of tomato plants. But, most of us will notice how we relate to our gardens, how lovingly we connect to
the plants and our garden tasks. How we protect young plants from pests, and hover nearby energetically.
Usually, I walk in the garden at dawn, even before my tea, and at night before I fall asleep I check to see what
the day has done.
I think God is just like this, the farmer of our soul, watching over, protecting, loving. The gardener of the
spiritual life of all people, everyone, everywhere – the garden of God’s care … our soul life tilled and planted.
Early Friends loved farming / gardening images. Isaac Pennington says: “… sink down to the seed which God
sews in thy heart and let that be in thee, and grow in thee, and breathe in thee, and act in thee, and thou shalt
find by sweet experience that the Lord knows that and loves and owns that, and will lead it to the inheritance of
To pray you open your whole self
to sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
to one whole voice that is you
and know there is more
that you can’t see, can’t hear
can’t know except in moments
steadily growing; and in languages
that aren’t always sound, but other circles of motion.
like eagle that sunday morning
over salt river; circled in blue sky
in wind, swept our hearts clean
with sacred wings.
we see you, see ourselves and know
that we must take the utmost care
and kindness in all things.
breathe in, know we are made of
all this, and breathe, knowing
we are truly blessed, because we
were born, and die soon in a
true circle of motion
like eagle rounding out the day
we pray that it will be done
From our Pastor’s message of Sunday, April 15, 2012
Rufus Jones grew up near here in South China, Maine. In his book “Trail of Life through the Early Years,” he wrote about what it was like to grow up as a Friend, to grow up “Quaker.” In the following quote, he is talking about what going to Meeting was like when he was just about 10 years old. He says: “Very often in these meetings for Worship, there were long periods of silence … I do not think that anyone ever told me what the silence was for. It does not seem necessary to explain Quaker silence to children. They feel what it means …”
Then on the next page he says: “Sometimes a real spiritual wave would sweep over the Meeting in these silent hushes, which made me feel very solemn and which carried me – careless boy that I was – down into something deeper than my own thoughts, gave me a momentary sense of that Spirit who has been the life and light of people in all ages and in all lands.”
It is that same “something deeper” that we are gathered this Easter in family Worship to recognize and to celebrate. What we are actually doing is FEELING … in the same way that Rufus Jones says Quaker children feel and just know why they’re sitting here together even without explanation. We are feeling our way down to the place where we get it that God is with us. Since that first Easter morning when Mary sees that the stone has been rolled away, when she meets and recognizes Jesus there in the garden; since that very morning we have all had direct access to the Light of the risen Christ. And Friends have always seemed to know that we find it in our own hearts. From the oldest of us to the youngest it is this that we come to know in Meeting for Worship.
But, until George Fox made his great discovery on Pendle Hill in England, until he had his direct experience of God — of the inward teacher — the risen Christ; until then, for nearly 1,500 years (and sometimes even today) this kind of knowing was almost forgotten. It got hidden, locked away really, in church ritual. And for most people hope got postponed, put off to the distant future … till the end of time.
Hope postponed reminds me of our human tendency of putting off until tomorrow what might be better done today. Why? Because moving the very present reality of God close at hand, into the future, into another time … a second coming … could be a way of saving the actual practice of Christianity for later. If we say “Christ is risen” but continue to see this spiritual reality only as a metaphor, something that is not real and certainly not very practical, we may be able to convince ourselves that it’s OK to cut some corners where justice is concerned. We may be able to rationalize slashing budgets for social programs, but continue to spend countless billions on armaments. These are the sort of corners that we might not cut so easily, if we knew, really deeply knew, felt from our own experience, that Christ is risen, eternally present among us. Would knowing this deepen our integrity and compassion?
At Easter we do this every year — we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection — but what, I wonder, does this inner resurrection actually look like? I know myself that I have been slow to understand and receive the guidance
of this Light. I think this is largely because the inner experience can be quite subtle, and because the Light of the inner resurrection shows up in the most ordinary places and times. It shows up in the everyday events of our lives.
Remember how from time to time you’ll have a flash of insight or a wise moment when you perceive some deeper truth, perhaps a truth that once you see it you just know and have always known it to be true?
Or perhaps you are working on a problem and suddenly you see your way forward, you just know how to proceed? These are, I think, gifts … gifts of the spirit to our better selves. But, for so much of my life I misunderstood them to be the product of my own mind. I did not understand the source of that still small voice within — I did not understand just how intimate God is, or what part Spirit plays in our daily lives. I do not think that I often realized just how much help we really receive. This is how it is: the inner resurrection helps us trace the footsteps of God as they wind their way through the ordinary moments of our lives.
The resurrection lets the Truth of God’s Presence shine.
So, it’s Easter and we celebrate the beauty of God’s world. We celebrate the shining Truth of the Resurrection, and we give thanks … for all the help we do receive.
For, He is, indeed, Risen this day.
On April 20 I will be one-third into my radiation treatments. So far I feel well but tire quickly. All your support and prayers have been such a blessing. The healing service sustains me as I lie under the mask. Thanks to all.
From our Pastor, Daphne Clement
“I would like to see us (the Religious Society of Friends) turn our family tree upside down,” I said. And Margaret Cooley, Director of Woolman Hill, immediately saw what I was envisioning and responded: “The branches would then be our roots.”
Our family tree turned upside down? The branches now the roots? If this were so, would it mean that Friends have learned from the mistakes of the past? This version of the Family Tree would surely portray a mature Society of Friends in which real Christian love of God, of the Light and of each other would help us to be tolerant and respectful of difference.
Here in New England where so much of American Quaker history originated, we have had lots of opportunities to practice and nurture this sort of tolerance and love of each other; throughout our 350 year history, we have at times done this well … and at other points, when it came to bearing with diversity among Friends … we fell quite short … short on Love. The problems among us have reflected the larger human condition and are illustrative of how we humans tend to think and act when we are not centered in the Light.
It is so easy to be swept up in controversy and be swayed by the warmth of emotion generated by strong opinion. It is the real work of elders and ministers in the face of such controversy to hold fast to the Light … allowing the Light to transform and make room for a potential “new thing” to be wrought among us.
I propose to you that since George Fox abolished the laity … making us truly the “priesthood of all believers” … we are all ministers. And because we Friends are all ministers now, this is our task: To trust in Light of God and in the awesome diversity of God’s creation, knowing that really, there are as many ways to worship as there are people. And because we know this, let us join together, as kindred: Friends General Conference (FGC), Friends United Meeting (FUM), Evangelical Friends International (EFI), Conservative, Independent, Programmed and Un-programmed … let us value each other … let us love each other … letting go of divisive judgment … let us turn our family tree upside down.
 Several weeks ago we, the Durham Friends Meeting, hosted a Woolman Hill Board Meeting. Before worshiping together they presented a slide show portraying the beauty of Woolman Hill Retreat Center in Western Massachusetts. Part of their presentation was an opportunity for us to respond to their inquiry about the ways Woolman Hill might better serve the program needs of New England Meetings.
In the 20th century Friends’ witness in the world placed a high value on our Testimonies and our community has made strong statements for Equality and Civil Rights and for Peace.
But it is important to remember that early Friends saw their witness in the world mainly as a reflection of their inner life and they “described themselves as persons who had undergone a radical transformation.” Their immediate first-hand experience of the Light of the Living Christ changed them. As this inward change took place, there was a corresponding change in the way Friends lived their day-to-day lives. Living the Testimonies was the natural outward expression of the inward life, the natural expression of doing “what love required.”
George Fox suggested that Friends become “patterns witnessing to the Truth” and the “pattern” to which he referred was an inward opening to continuing revelation of the Living Truth, which when followed leads us to witness with our lives. This is what we mean when we say: “Let your life speak.”
Our Testimonies have been described differently in different times and places. Some suggest that there are 4 and name them as: “Harmony, Community, Equality, and Simplicity.” Others say: “Equality, Peace, Simplicity, & Truth.” Recently our Testimonies reflect the collective longing for deep integrity and cohesive community, bringing the number to 5: “Community, Equality, Integrity, Peace, Simplicity.” And the NEYM Faith and Practice adds “Stewardship.”
No matter how we name or number them, the beauty of Friends’ Testimony in the world is our ability to adapt, to meet the most significant issues of the day in meaningful and relevant ways.
We no longer testify to equality by speaking plain; it is no longer necessary to address people with the familiar / singular pronoun ‘thee’ as it was in 17th Century England when the noble class expected to be addressed with the formal / plural ‘you’ to acknowledge their ‘divine rights.’ Early Friends acknowledged “that of God in everyone” (not just in the nobility) and gradually society has achieved new understandings of equality. We are now less class bound and though we are probably not conscious of it when we address each other as ‘you’ we are really recognizing Equality – “that of God in everyone” when we say ‘you’.
Another early Testimony was to Simplicity – dressing plain. Plain dressing was a response to fashion as a lavish expression of wealth by the English gentry … and an early call to an intentional, thoughtful life style. Unfortunately, plain dressing quickly became a badge, an ‘outward sign,’ an empty form. Even Margaret Fell, wife of George Fox, protested it, saying that to dress “all in one dress and all in one color” is a “Silly poor gospel!” She goes on to say: “It is more fit for us to be covered with God’s eternal Spirit … clothed with the Light … which leads us and guides us …”
Today we might say that Simplicity is our testimony if we are intentional with our time and energy. Lloyd Lee Wilson says that the simple life is one in which there is “time to remember the divine purpose behind our tasks, time to listen for a possible divine amendment to the day’s schedule, and time during the day to be thankful for the divine presence …”
And Friends’ witness for Peace – that is: living in the life and power that takes away the occasion for all war – will, of course, always endure.
Each of our testimonies is born of Friends’ commitment to Integrity or Truth … integrity / conscience rises out of God’s concern for us. It is by listening to the ‘still small voice within,’ that we are able to tend with integrity our witness for Equality, Simplicity, Community and Peace.
The beauty of Friends’ testimony is that we tend not to get stuck (at least for very long) in empty form. Our capacity to adapt speaks to the strength of Friends’ “creedless” witness of our faith, the transformative potential of simply allowing the Light of Christ to lead … and to open Friends to the new Light of continuing revelation. In the future Friends’ witness in the world will inevitably need to address new leadings that arise to meet new needs … but because Spirit is consistent, certain principals will always prevail.
It is important for us, while living the testimonies, that we do not get the “cart before the horse” and look outward for confirmation of their value. When we ask, “Are we making a difference?”; “Are we changing the world?”; “Are we still fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?” we risk growing discouraged. If the testimonies are acted upon with a misplaced expectation that the world will change we do indeed risk becoming both exhausted and dispirited. It is enough to tend and stay obedient to the Light, the inward guide. And then to do just what love requires of us, for love’s sake. This is living our testimony. This is enough.
“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.”
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead I call you friends, for everything that I learn from my Father I make known to you.”
It’s Easter! The Eternal Christ is revealed anew! It is not only the mystics and poets who share in this… we all do. The word ‘eternal’ has more than one meaning: it means both the Light of God that has been with us since the 1st day of creation and ‘eternal’ means a single moment in time that has particular quality … it is a Presence full, Light filled moment. George Fox & John Woolman share such moments often in their Journals, as do Whittier, Wordsworth and Elizabeth Vining in their poetry.
Light filled eternal moments are available to us all; but sometimes I think that the mystics and poets describe them too well. So well that when we ordinary folks experience these sweet and simple moments, the heart lifted Light filled moments, we tend to discount them. Somehow our own moments don’t quite measure up. Most of us when asked: “So when was your last experience of the Eternal?” … will shake our heads doubtfully … and wonder … wonder if we are valuable enough …
But Easter is here … and though we may have only fleeting glimpses of the resurrection … the Eternal Christ Light within … the love of Jesus that is alive and always with us. When we honor these ‘eternal’ moments and understand them to be our spiritual sustenance .… our ‘soul food’ .… gifts of God … blessings … we will begin to notice them more and more often.
So, let our prayer this season be for that other kind of wonder … a prayer of noticing … Let us gaze, oh God, upon all your creation with wonder … seeing everywhere your Eternal Presence.
Thus, our relationships – with God and with each other – will deepen and grow. Eternal Presence filled moments awaken us intuitively and emotionally to God and to each other. They resurrect us. So, look for and notice with wonder your glimpses (no matter how humble) … for it is by their Light that we are refreshed and made whole.
By Dorothy Hinshaw
The Christian Education Committee is planning the new year, beginning in September.
We note that many children will have “graduated” from the “Playing in the Light”
(Godly Play) curriculum; thus, another class is planned for the middle school age group. Therefore, we need teachers for this new class as well as others to help with the “Playing in the Light” class for the younger age group. Please consider volunteering for a span of time
(perhaps 2 or more months at a time) to lead/teach Sunday School.
Those willing to teach the “Playing in the Light” class will want to attend the April 15-
17 workshop. Contact Wendy Schlotterbeck for fee information and registration for the
workshop. Also, let committee members know if you are willing to devote some time in
teaching Sunday School! Christian Education Committee: Dorothy Hinshaw, Clarabel
Marstaller, Daphne Clement, Wendy Schlotterbeck, Erin Martin.