Kuhkomossonuk Akonutomuwinokot: Stories Our Grandmothers Told Us, Reviewed by David Etheridge — in Friends Journal

Peace and Social Concerns Committee calls our attention to an exciting new book. Here’s a review from Friends Journal:

March 1, 2023

Edited by Wayne A. Newell, associate editor Robert M. Leavitt. Resolute Bear Press, 2021. 208 pages. $34.95/hardcover; $24.95/paperback; $2.99/eBook.

Buy from QuakerBooks

This collection of stories from the Passamaquoddy Indigenous community of Maine, Kuhkomossonuk Akonutomuwinokot: Stories Our Grandmothers Told Us, is a 45-year labor of love by Passamaquoddy editor Wayne Newell, who died in late 2021, several months after its publication (editor’s note: see his milestone here). He was born and grew up on Passamaquoddy lands. He founded a bilingual education program in the 1970s, served on the tribal council, and was president of the tribe’s Northeast Blueberry Company. His life intersected with Quakers when he was ten years old at a Quaker workcamp. In the 1970s, he directed American Friends Service Committee’s Wabanaki Program. In the 1980s and 1990s, he participated in “the Gatherings” with Quakers, Natives, and others to reimagine Indigenous–settler relations.

The collection is charming and engaging while also being scholarly. All stories appear in both Passamaquoddy and English with a pronunciation guide for the Passamaquoddy. There is a web address for an online Passamaquoddy Maliseet dictionary, maintained by the associate editor, that includes video recordings of native speakers using some of the words from the dictionary. The stories are also accompanied by illustrations in a variety of styles. Some of the stories were initially recorded on wax cylinders in the late-nineteenth century.

The first story, which was written in 1979, talks about daily life in the 1920s through the experience of Mary Ann, a girl roughly the age of the editor’s parents. It covers events like births and deaths, doing laundry, going to school, celebrating Halloween, and listening to stories told by her elders. This account helps readers understand how storytelling was a part of daily life. It is accompanied by a photograph of school children Mary Ann’s age with annotations identifying those children as people who grew up to help write this book.

The next group of stories are mostly about animals: ants, flies, crickets, and mice. To help readers appreciate the storytelling experience, the first story includes photographs of the storyteller gesturing with her hands and head to illustrate the story as she tells it. The photographs and drawing for that story are by the associate editor of the book, a linguist who also has been working for about a half-century on learning both these stories and the Passamaquoddy language.

The volume then turns to a series of stories about struggles between the devil and ordinary people. These are mostly trickster stories where the devil and ordinary people are trying to outsmart one another. One is a Job-like story where an angel and the devil try to win over a person to their side. In another, the devil asks an ordinary human to help split up a devoted couple. The human uses gossip to accomplish the task. The devil gives the person a bag of gold saying, “You’re more of a devil than I am.”

Another set of stories feature motewolon, which are people with extraordinary powers that are used for both good and bad purposes. They are also responsible for ghosts that sometimes cause trouble, often inspire fear, and at other times are simply mysterious.

The final collection is titled “Passamaquoddy Stories.” The protagonist for most of them is a superhero called Koluskap. In one tale, Koluskap tracks down a huge owl that is making the world too windy by flapping its wings. Koluskap puts the owl in a crevice, so it cannot flap its wings. Then the air becomes too calm. Koluskap extracts the owl in a way that permits it to flap only one wing. The result is the intermittent windiness of modern times. Humans are fearful of the power of Koluskap, but usually those powers are used to benefit them.

Koluskap is also the protagonist in Aladdin-style stories of fulfilling human wishes that lead to unexpected results. For example, a man who wishes to be loved by women is accosted by young women who literally smother him with their attention resulting in his death. The story ends with this statement: “What happened to the maidens is not known.”

The book gives readers insights into several aspects of Passamaquoddy culture as well as an appreciation for the imaginative creativity of that culture.

David Etheridge is a member of Friends Meeting of Washington (D.C.), clerk of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting Working Group on Racism, and previously worked for over 20 years as an attorney in the Indian Affairs Division of the Solicitor’s Office of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, March 19, 2023 (Draft)

Tess Hartford, Recording Clerk

Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends met for the conduct of business on Sunday, March 19, 2023 with 13 people attending from the Meetinghouse and 2 by Zoom.

1. Meeting Opening

Clerk opened the meeting by asking approval of Tess Hartford to be Recording Clerk in Ellen Bennett’s absence. Friends approved this request. Clerk then gathered Friends with reading of the theme from Cuba Yearly Annual Meeting of Sessions.

     Theme: Quakers that the world needs: becoming the sower’s of hope”;

     Text: Timothy 14:10 and the paragraph from George Fox’s journal: sing and rejoice ye children of the day and of the light, because the Lord is at work in the dark night…”

     The lessons were from Hebrews 11, (“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”) and Romans 5:3-5 (“we also gloryin our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope”)

2. Approval of Minutes of February 2023– Ellen Bennett

          Minutes were approved as submitted.

3. Finance Committee Report—Nancy Marstaller

    A request was made to change the date of the threshing session scheduled for March 26th, to the last Sunday in April, the 30th.

          Meeting approved the change. 

     Request for approval of a gift of $1,000.00 from the Charity account to assist Dorothy Curtis financially on her trip to Kenya for the United Society of Friends Women Triennial Gathering in July.        

          Meeting approved this gift.

4. Peace and Social Concerns Committee—- Ingrid Chalufour

    Clerk read a letter crafted by Cushman Anthony in response to the article from Angus King on his position concerning LD-6707 regarding Maine Tribal Sovereignty. A few minor changes were made, after which the letter was approved.

          Meeting approved the letter

   FCNL has requested of all Quaker Meetings to discern whether or not it should take up the  issue of Reproductive Health. PS&C committee members thoughtfully considered this request and made its recommendation to the Monthly Meeting. Two key points were made in these regards. First, historically this has been an issue that Friends have not been able to find agreement on and it would be difficult for FCNL to find a position we could all support. And second, the sense of the committee is that this issue already receives a substantial amount of funding and support. Where FCNL’s resources might be better focused, in their opinion would be in the area of international relations and our defense budget, as this would align with our Quaker value of world peace.

The Social Justice Enrichment Project is preparing a grant proposal to be submitted to the  Obadiah Brown Benevolent fund before April 15th. The funds would be used to research the effects of this project to learn more about how the books are being used in the classrooms and what the benefits are to the children. The teachers along with consultants will continue to work with Linda Ashe-Ford as well as Mikku Paul,who is a Maliseet early childhood educator and consultant. The design of this project is to produce materials for teachers and a guidebook for New England Meetings. The requested amount from the OBBF is $7,000.00. PS&C has itself used its budget of $2,000.00 as the Meeting contribution to this project.

5. Statistical Report—— Sarah Sprogell

At the beginning of 2022 we had 101 members and at the end of the year we had 96

There were 4 deaths and 1 resignation.

We had 1 transfer of membership.

We do not have a First Day School

Average attendance at Sunday worship- 25-30 people, including those present in the Meetinghouse and those on Zoom.

Business meeting attendance averages 17 people, again present and virtual.

6. Ministry and Counsel—Clerk, Renee Cote

The 5th draft of the State of Society Report was read aloud to all participants.

Sarah Sprogell suggested a reorganizing of the various content fields for greater cohesiveness as a finished report. The draft as it was presented was wholeheartedly approved with gratitude, but agreed to the realignment of paragraphs as long as the content remained intact.

          Meeting approved the State of Society report.

7. Trustees—- Sarah Sprogell

There was no report from Trustees this month

8. New Business

Kim Bolshaw brought a request form Portland Monthly Meeting and Durham Monthly Meeting to add the Mission Church/Meeting of Calderon, Cuba to the Velasco Meeting. Calderon is at the farthest edges of Cuba Yearly Meeting in Velasco, our sister city

Portland Friends also asks Durham Friends if we would hold their funds designated for the CYM under our care and create an account exclusively for these funds. These funds are separate from the NEYM, Puente de Amigo funds.

          Meeting approved these two requests.  Clerk of Finance will create the new account.

Clerk Leslie Manning read a letter from FCNL’s General Secretary, Bridget Moix regarding its compassionate statement in response to the Supreme Court reversal of Roe vs. Wade decision on abortion. Clerk asked all present to prayerfully share thoughts without discussion, comment or debate as a way to discern our position as a Meeting on this issue. Friends shared respectfully and with heartfelt expressions of concerns. It was acknowledged at the conclusion of sharing that we at Durham Friends are not in unity on this sensitive and weighty subject.

9. Meeting Closing

Meeting closed with waiting worship and a deep sense of gratitude.

Respectfully submitted,

Tess Hartford, Recording Clerk pro tem

“Way Opens When …. We Remember We Are the Water,”  by Mey Hasbrook

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, March 19, 2023

I’d like to begin with an invitation to open our hearts, to invite in Spirit who is always with us; and The Ancestors:  the ancestors who brought us this Quaker Meeting, the ancestors who we carry here through our flesh, and the ancestors we have chosen on our spiritual paths. May they add their Light to our time together.

                                                            ~ ~ ~

……Friends, I’m excited to share today’s message.  My prayer is that we embrace an invitation to listen to Spirit from within, moment-to-moment, so that we may be – that is, embody – Love Incarnate.  And by becoming Love Incarnate, that we hear the Waterways sustaining all life in this world, so that we may learn to listen to the Water of our own bodies sustaining us constantly.  From a new folk song to be shared later, this message is titled, “Way opens when… we remember we are the water.”

……Preparing today’s message, I held with care the Quaker saying “When Way Opens”.  I’ve often heard its use to conjure a thing that happens beyond us, like a divine intervention that parts the Red Sea; or a limiting use to mean an exception, like a once-in-a-generation passing of a comet.  Yet Way Opening is not by nature an external nor rare event. 

……Way Opening is Love, Love Incarnate – loving as we breathe and have being.  Way Opening is the Life-Giving Power of Spirit who lives within us and moves through us, a movement of the Waterways by which Rivers and Oceans continuously join together.  The ongoing motion of Love requires open-ended learning rather than a routine or a fixed route.   Quakers call this “continuous revelation”, and it looks like this:  being curious, asking questions, pausing, and accompanying one another. 

……In preparing today’s message, I’ve heard the former “When Way Opens” anew as “Way Opens When . . .”

  • Way Opens When… we love God entirely.  Early Friend Isaac Pennington calls this “giving over” everything and “giving over” continuously.
  • Way Opens When…  we love ourselves and, in extension, one another – because to love our neighbors as ourselves, we must first learn to love ourselves.
  • Way Opens When … God is Our Vision, as in our opening hymn – God being the Living Path of Love, the Jesus Way.  We need to see anew– that is, to learn to think anew – as boundless as oceans and as continuous as the rivers flowing into the oceans.

The Life-Giving Power of Spirit is constricted or expanded by how we think about ourselves, and how we relate to others and our universe.  This teaching – or rather Learning – of Way Opening is to honor being and thereby relationships.  Because Spirit lives and moves within and between us – breathing beings made of water. 

……At the same time, this learning teaches on equal footing how harm is caused when we sacrifice our being and relationships in a trade for “things and thoughts”.  Some names for Harm are Power-Over, Empire, and Oppression including Everyday Racism in which we all are immersed.  In this learning, “things and thoughts” are the stuff that make up our physical and social structures – venerated institutions, private property, and white privilege.  The leading for today’s message is not to define all of these names, but rather to call us back to the Jesus Way: Way Opening as being Love Incarnate.

                                                            ~  ~  ~

Listening for the movement of Spirit as Living Love and the movement of Water as that of Life –  both in continuous flow – let’s wade into this message from the Morecambe Bay, the largest estuary of Northwest England and largest mudflats of the UK.  Four rivers flow into the Irish Sea here.  The mixing of brackish waters nourishes abundant biodiversity.  I first walked the shoreline at low-tide with a few companions. We were taking a workshop at Swarthmoor Hall, a 16th-century building famed for use by Early Quakers especially Margaret Fell and George Fox. 

……The program was called Experiment with the Light, a Quaker spiritual practice.  The practice unfolds over a series of prompts to encourage sensory impressions especially visualization.  Our leaders clearly explained the process, framing our gathering within the setting of First Friends due to location.  The leaders’ plan was for the group to practice in the Great Hall, and then for us to create individual block prints in the modern building inspired by our experiences.

……The first night that we gathered in the Great Hall, I had a strong allergic reaction to the space.  The idea to open windows did not remedy my condition, which is no surprise; centuries of allergens in ancient walls are not easily “aired out”.  So, best-laid plans required re-vision.  The new plan brought practice sessions in the open outdoors, weather permitting; and, otherwise, encircling within the modern building including early evening.  Yet the later night worship sharing would still be held in the Great Hall.

……In this “story-ing” of what unfolded – this version of the story – the leaders’ shift of plan sounds reasonable, a “rational compromise”.  What’s missing in this story about “outcome” is how its shape came into being.  Late the first night after my allergic reaction, the leaders spoke with workshop participants in the Great Hall without me taking part.  I sat in an adjacent room hearing muffled voices through very thick doors.  The morning after, one of the leaders spoke with me for us to finalize a new plan.  Our gathering as a whole never discussed together what was unfolding.  Does that sound familiar, Friends?

……Gratefully, a few participants took interest in me beyond our formal program.  I learned from one person how she and a few others said aloud during that decisive talk with leaders how I ought to be included in the process.  A few felt that nothing of the program ought to held in the Great Hall if I would be excluded.  My low-tide walk along near the grassy side of the Bay’s mudflats was with these few companions. What a difference a few companions make!
                                                            ~  ~  ~

Friends, my leading to give today’s message arose months ago, originally to honor the Water on World Water Day, which is March 22nd.   The United Nations focus for 2023  is “about accelerating change to solve the water and sanitation crisis,” continuing, “And because water affects us all, we need everyone to take action.”  This theme resonates my experiences in recent months, listening to the Waterways within this body right here.  Because there is a need for clean-up and urgent care throughout our wider world and right here with one another.

……In my journey to become Love Incarnate and to focus on loving neighbors, I’ve bumped into a lot of “things and thoughts” including our Beloved Community – right here and regionally.  I’ve witnessed harm done to others and experienced it done to myself:  harm as Power-Over, Empire, and Oppression of Everyday Racism – which for some is beyond recognition like swimming in a fishbowl, and which for me as a mixed-race person is daily painful in this wider world and hurts even more in Beloved Community.

……What God calls me to now is to love myself as I would love my neighbor, and to remind us that we should not confuse Love Incarnate with methods or monuments.  Friends, the Jesus Way is not our Meeting Houses, Handbooks, business agendas, nor current practices of Gospel Order.  The Life-Giving Power of Spirit arrives through our bodies and through our relationships, not our “thoughts and things.”  Power-Over is never a reasonable option, and Everyday Racism is never not a part of what we are dealing with in our relationships.
                                                            ~  ~  ~

As we ready for expectant waiting worship, Friends, I invite us to flow with the Waterways within us and across this Blue Ball – our Earth and only home.  Let us hear what God asks of us, moment to moment.  We will hear a folk song titled “Strangers” by Nickel Creek; that’s what’s inspired today’s title.  I invite a full-bodied listening that opens us up to the Life-Giving Power of Spirit through the music, through the instruments and voices.  What do you hear arise?  How do you and we become Love Incarnate?  How do we all come together to become Love Incarnate?  And in this Loving, how do we name harm and repair our relationships? 

……Don’t worry about following all of the lyrics.  The invitations is to enter in and hold the query, listening to our bodies.  If you need to get up and sway, go for it!  The lyrics I’m reading out are from the outro, which again has inspired today’s message title:

As we drone on
(As we drone on
Past the break of dawn)
Hit rock bottom
(Of that dry well)
And get to shoveling
(Fellow stranger)
We’re our own water
(And we’ve been too long)
Too long coming
To be gone

~ ~ ~ …… ~ ~
Afterword for publication.
Gratitude to Friends who accompanied me in preparing and giving this message, Andrew Grant (Mt. Toby MM) and Melissa Foster (Framingham MM); as well as “steadying” Friends from Three Rivers Worship Group.  Deep listening to three “wells” abundantly watered this message:

  • The Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, as Jesus focused on how to be a neighbor;
  • Plenary            “Repairing Harmfully Designed Foundations” by Eppchez Yes (Green Street MM, Philadelphia YM) <https://youtu.be/qaCNvGLyDVg>;
  • and “Strangers” by the trio Nickel Creek <https://youtu.be/qjBbnwDJHOg>.

Report from Our Delegation to Cuba, February 2023

The delegation consisted of Kim Bolshaw from Durham MM, and Hannah Colbert, Sue Calhoun and Fritz Weiss from Portland MM. Here’s a photo of the four with the mission church in Calderon

  1. Our activities
  • We arrived in Cuba on Thursday 2/16. After settling in and dinner we attended the evening Worship service. 
  • During the annual meeting (Thursday – Sunday) we attended a lesson each morning, and then a business session in the morning and afternoon, and in the evening a worship service.  
  • We gave the message on Friday evening worship.  Our service ended with the song “Espiritu de Dios”.  In most of the subsequent services, this song was song because our hosts knew that we knew the words.
  • On Sunday visited Pueblo Nuevo, attended the  beginning of their Sunday worship & returned for the closing worship of the annual sessions.
  • Sunday afternoon we visited Banes mtg, and arrived in Velasco.
  • Monday we spent in Puerto Padre, visiting the Wilmington Center, the church, and touring the city.  Jorge Luis showed us his apartment and introduced us to his family.
  • We were in Velasco for the rest of our time in Cuba. We stayed in the parsonage with Yadira and her family.
  • On Tuesday we traveled via horse cart to, visited and worshiped with the mission in Calderon, and in the evening attended a prayer service.
  • On Wednesday there was a morning women’s prayer services and we then traveled to beach with many from the church for a picnic with an incredible cake, that evening we had dinner at a Friend’s house. 
  • Thursday Kim and Hannah left – Sue and I attended a house worship in the evening.  We gave the message at this service. 
  • Friday was a day of rest. Sue accompanied the Women’s group bringing food, companionship and prayer to a older women.
  • We went to local carnival in the evening. 
  • On Saturday there was a graduation celebration in the Velasco Church for the third cohort to complete the Peace Institute’s course in Quaker Studies.
  • The graduation was followed by a feast with a roasted pig with guests from Puerto Padre.  
  • On Sunday, we gave the lesson during worship. We had another feast with a rich Cuban stew (Caldosa). 
  • During our 12 days in Cuba we attended 13 separate worship services. 
  • We brought an unrestricted donation of 5280 euros to Cuba – a little more than $6,000. We also carried a donation from Wilmington Meeting for the Wilmington center project. 
  • We bought seven big suitcases of supplies including a lot of medical supplies, five computers, tools for the Wilmington center project, solar lamps, and more. We carried donations sent from Oregon, Ohio, North Carolina and New England. 
  • On Monday Sue and I flew to Miami, returning to Maine on Tuesday
  1. Report from CYM sessions
  • The theme of the annual gathering was “The Quakers that the world needs: becoming sowers of hope” and the text was Timothy 1 4:10 and the paragraph from George Foxes journal: “sing and rejoice ye children of the day and of the light because the lord is at work in this dark night…”. 
  • The lessons were from Hebrews 11 (“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”) and Romans 5, 3b-5 (“we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope”)
  • While the theme and the lessons focused on hope, throughout the sessions there were reminders that “es un momento tan duro”. 
  • Each meeting was invited to send 4 representatives (pastor, clerk of ministry commission, clerk of the meeting and treasurer) because of expense of hosting the sessions, not because of COVID.
  • The report on the finances of the YM recognized that the inflation during the past year and the endemic shortages of everything had impacted the YM severely and that the generosity of FUM and NEYM had been hugely significant.
  • There was significant concern about the needed repairs in most of the church buildings, and passionate discussion about what the priorities of the YM were and how they were determined. 
  • The YM commission for young adults had been laid down, in part because so many young adults had left Cuba for the United States. 
  • There were deep concerns about developing leadership for the church. Gibara is without a pastor. Soon Puerto Padre will be without pastors
  1. News from CYM
  • A new mission is being established in Santiago. Yerandi and Zuul will be moving to Santiago and establishing this mission. 
  • Pastors now have permission from both CYM and Cuban Government to have a secular job in addition to pastoring.  The YM is paying Pastors 3000 pesos/month and the local churches are encouraged to pay an additional 2000 pesos/month although most local churches are unable to do so.  5000 pesos is roughly equivalent to $34 dollars. 
  • The Peace Institute continued to work with the cohort of students who graduated through the pandemic, and is planning on launching a 4th cohort.
  • The upcoming visit by Benigo in June and the AVP training in Havana in September were mentioned repeatedly during sessions. 
  1. Requests from CYM
  • Cuba wants NEYM to understand the real conditions in Cuba. Much of this will be in a verbal summary.
  • The Cubans wonder if Puente and FUM work more closely together together to support Cuba Quakers.  Specifically, Colin Saxton is wondering if we might work together to replace the church van which needs to be replaced. 
  • A strong sister meeting relationship is very important. Would it be possible for the NEYM sister meetings to use WhatsApp and Facebook to communicate more regularly with their sister meeting. 
  1. Other Notes
  • Pastors and others  have been following NEYM Facebook page. They were excited to see pictures from the delegation being posted on NEYM’s Facebook while we were still in Cuba.  I shared this with Kathleen Wooten. 
  • Specifically Banes, Gibara, Holguin, Retrete and Puerto Padre asked for more contact with their sister meetings.  I sent a card with contact information from Banes to Burlington with this request. 
  • Because we were visiting, Velasco received funds to host us. With these funds Yadera was able to prepare huge meals and, in so doing, feed the larger community. 
  • At this moment, Visas through the US embassy are only available for family reunion.  Cuban’s believe it is impossible to get a Visa to attend NEYM sessions. I wonder if Puente and NEYM could lobby to get a request to the embassy in Havana to make an exception to this policy.
  • T-Mobile cellular plans allow free texting with others on the same plan which could make communication with NE easier for future delegations.
  • We were not required to have a COVID test to enter Cuba or to leave. Reportedly there is 100% vaccination in Cuba and very low incidence of Covid.
  • We were required to purchase medical insurance outside of Cuba as the Cuban health system is unable to provide care.
  • There were power outages every days, usually for several hours. 
  • In conversations, especially with the young adults we were told over and over that “todos quieren inmigrar”. 
  • Unlike previous trips that I have been on, there were few Cubans who spoke English at the annual sessions – only Richard and Kenya.  In Velasco, there was one young man who was studying English because he is planning to immigrate.
  • The pastors in Cuba are providing care, support and essential services to the communities – clean water in Gibara and Holguin, the outreach and food to isolated senors in Puerto Padre and Velasco, pastoral houses in Havana and Puerto Padre.  Every day in Velasco, people would come to Yadira’s door and receive food, water, money, conversation, prayer.
  • The contrast between the abundance of community and love, the beauty and potential of the island  with the very hard financial times is hard to describe. 

Agenda and Materials for Durham Friends Business Meeting, March 19, 2023

The materials for Durham Friends Meeting’s March 19, 2023 Meeting for Business are available at this link.


Opening reading and worship

Minutes of Previous Meeting (available here)

Finance Committee Report

Peace and Social Concerns Report

Ministry and Counsel Draft State of Our Society

Statistical Report

+++ Break +++

Listening Session on FCNL Request for Legislative Priority (Materials here)

Closing Worship

“Why Are We Here? And Why So Few?” by Doug Bennett        

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, March 12, 2023

Why are we here at Meeting? I’ve found myself wondering.  And if it seems so important that we’re here, why are there so few of us?  Even  more I’ve been wondering that too.  Are we special?  What do others know that lead them to make other choices on Sunday mornings?  What are we missing that those others get?  Or what are they missing? 

When I was in graduate school – yes, a long while ago – I was part of a circle of friends, good friends, that numbered about a dozen people.  They were all smart and curious, and came from all over.  Women and men, people from both coasts and from the middle, some from the south, some from other countries – quite a variety.  None of these people, then or now,  are religiously inclined.  They didn’t, and they don’t go to church.    I’m the odd one in that bunch. 

After graduate school I became a faculty member in the department of political science at Temple University.  I was one of about 25 faculty members.    It was during that time that I became  a Quaker and started going regularly to Quaker Meeting.  But I don’t remember any of these other faculty members being at all religiously inclined.  Perhaps one or two were, but it couldn’t have been more than that.

From  Temple I went to Reed College as Provost – chief academic officer.  I looked after a faculty of about 100  men and women.  Two of them were serious Roman Catholics, and two were observant Jews, though I think more culturally than religiously.    Most of my professional life I’ve been surrounded by people who weren’t religious. 

I’m saying all this simply to observe that today, in the United States, a lot of highly educated, so-called smart people are not religiously inclined.  They don’t see themselves as having a spiritual life and they don’t go to church or meeting or synagogue or mosque for the most part.  Smart people aren’t buying it, the life religious.  They don’t see any point to it.  They think there are better things to do on a Sunday morning. 

But it’s not just smart people.  Quite a number of surveys have shown that the percentage of people who attend church regularly has gone down considerably in recent decades, and a much larger share of the American population are ‘Nones’ who have no religious affiliation at all. 

So why are we here – here at Meeting for Worship?  What are we seeing that others don’t?  Or, I suppose, what are they seeing that we do not?  What makes us special? 

I can’t speak for you, but I want to try to say why I’m here today and why I’m here most Sundays.  Let me mention a couple of reasons.  They sound different one from another, but they link together in my mind.

I come to Meeting because I need to work on myself.  I have to figure out how to deal with all the many ways I’m not as good a person as I’d like to be.  I need some place to work on my failings.  I want to seek more clarity.  But I also want to seek more forgiveness, because when I see my failings more clearly, I don’t feel great, and I need to find a way to make a fresh start.  That’s a big reason. 

Here’s a second: I have a sense that there is more to this life than meets the eye – and more than meets any of our regular senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching).  What that more is I have a hard time saying.  That ‘more’ is elusive.  But it also feels important.  Rufus Jones, the great Quaker scholar and mystic, wrote a book titled New Eyes for Invisibles.  I come to Meeting because I’m trying to develop — together with others — those new eyes for invisibles.  He quotes 2 Corinthians 4:18:

… we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

“We must somehow recover our power to see essential realities vividly.”  That’s the first sentence of the Rufus Jones book. 

This second reason is connected to the first.  The more I develop new eyes for invisibles, the more clearly I see my sinful nature.  The more I develop ‘new eyes for invisibles’ the more my excuses and delusions fall away, and the better I see new possibilities.  Those two go hand in hand.  Those first two, you might say, are personal reasons.  But there’s more. 

In coming to Meeting I join with others in building a community of people that share the same wantings – to see more and more clearly, and to deal with the ways we each fall short.  We’re seeking, aren’t we, to build a better community together.  Sometimes we call what we’re trying to build ‘the beloved community.’  We might think of it as kind of a pilot project for the human race.  If we can build a beloved community here among a few dozen of us, maybe we’ll be taking a step to building a beloved community for the whole of humanity.  Here’s Matthew 5:14-16:

“Ye are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hid.” 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

This third reason is clearly related to a fourth reason I’m here.  If we do build beloved community here in a little brick Meetinghouse in Durham, Maine, surely it will show itself to others.  Our light will shine for others to see. 

That’s a grand thought, isn’t it.  Carved over a fireplace mantle at Earlham College are these words (and some of you know them):  “They gathered sticks and kindled a fire and left it burning.”  That’s what we’re trying to do by coming here.  We’re gathering sticks and kindling a fire and we hope to keep it burning not just for ourselves but for others. 

All this has been on my mind recently because there are not as many of us as there were just a few years ago.  Why is that? 

We all know we have suffered some very sad loses.  Margaret Wentworth has gone to her reward.  And Charlotte Anne Curtis, too.  Sue Wood and Helen Clarkson.  And not so long ago Tommy Frye, Sukie Rice and Clarabel Marstaller.  We have reasons to be a sad meeting. 

But it isn’t just those passings.  I imagine we can all think of people who once attended worship regularly who do not come any more – or come very rarely.  Some people are drifting away.  Perhaps it has something to do with COVID, or perhaps with our moving away from a pastor.  I don’t know.  It sure doesn’t feel like there’s less need now to find our spiritual bearings in this troubled world.  And yet there are fewer of us. That can’t be a good thing.

In Shakespeare’s Henry V, there’s a famous scene when Henry’s soldiers are around their campfires the night before the Battle of Agincourt.  The English soldiers are tired and bruised from days of travel and fighting.  Worse, they know they are seriously outnumbered by the French soldiers they will face the next day.  Henry gives them a speech to lift their spirits.  He tries to make them feel good about being fewer. 

Essentially, Henry’s message is this:  Because there will be fewer of us, there will be all the more glory for each of us, individually, when we win tomorrow. 

The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.

And Henry continues:

From this day to the ending of the world,
we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;                          

 [From Henry V, Act IV, Scene III]

We should see it as a privilege to be so few Henry is saying.  More glory for each of us because   we are so few.  We few are special, and that’s all to the good. 

We should note his soldiers did win the battle. But it’s Henry’s message, not ours.  Ours is exactly the reverse.  We’re hoping for more, not fewer.  We’re caring for ourselves, we’re caring for one another, and we’re preparing a place for yet more to join with us. 

In gathering here to worship together, we are always hoping others will join with us.  Each Sunday we know – we hope – we may be surprised by newcomers. 

So that’s a fifth reason I come to Meeting:  to keep hope alive.  To make it possible for others to experience what I hope to experience in coming to Meeting.  We seek seeing more clearly; we seek the promise of forgiveness; we seek the beloved community.  In seeking all these we are kindling the fire.  We are nurturing hope.  We are holding the door open for all those others. 

Or that’s why I’m here.  Why are you here even if others aren’t?  What’s your answer?

“Richard Wright and the Library Card,” by William Miller

The March 5, 2023 message at Durham Friends Meeting was “Richard Wright and the Library Card,” a children’s book by William Miller and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie.

Jeanne Baker Stinson read the book this morning. It is one of the books being distributed to school teachers in this area through our Social Justice Enrichment Project. She began with this message:

This morning I’m here to share with you one in a series of books from the Durham Meeting Social Justice Books Project.  I’m honored to be a member of this committee, to be a part of this important work, and I thank Margaret Leitch Copland for finding this book.

Richard Wright and the Library Card is a fictionalized version of an incident in Richard Wright’s life that he later wrote about in his autobiography, Black Boy.  As you all know, Richard Wright went on to be a best-selling author – writing about the often brutal and dehumanizing experience of being a Black boy, and then man, in America.  In this book he pursues his dream of gaining access to books and stories with persistence and agency and is transformed by this experience.

In my everyday life I teach first/second grade – so I read a lot of picture books. Picture Books are a powerful art form – the combination of visual art with a relatively small number of very carefully chosen words often results in a work that is more than the sum of its parts and worthy of rereading, discussion, and contemplation.

Since we don’t have time for repeated readings here, I’m going to direct your attention to a couple of things that you might not notice the first time through.

  • Notice how Richard already believed in the power of story – thus his pursuit – but is transformed in ways even he didn’t expect.
  • In addition – keep your eyes on Jim.  Jim plays a very minor and even reluctant role in Richard’s quest and yet he is changed as well.

I’m sure there’s a message here for us.

You can see and hear a reading of the book here.


In opening worship before the reading, Renee Cote read a Maya Angelou poem.

Still I Rise


You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops,

Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don’t you take it awful hard

’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines

Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I dance like I’ve got diamonds

At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise

I rise.

Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise” from And Still I Rise: A Book of Poems.  Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Drawn from the Poetry Foundation website.

FCNL Seeks Input on Its Reproductive Health Care Stance; Durham Friends to Hold Discernment Session on March 19

Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) is asking for input from Friends and Friends Meetings regarding the stance it should take regarding Reproductive Health Care. We are being asked to discern if we recommend that reproductive health should be included in FCNL’s legislative priorities. 

On Sunday, March 19, Durham Friends will hold a one hour discernment session at the rise of Meeting for Worship for the Conduct of Business. If it is necessary to schedule another session, we will do so in April, as our recommendation is not due until May 1.

As requested, let us hold this matter tenderly.  There is a virtual opportunity for learning on March 22 at 6:30 PM Supporting Friends Discernment on Reproductive Health. All are welcome.

What follows is the request from FCNL and some guidelines for participation

We greatly value your engagement with this complex issue, and we encourage you to hold compassion for each other during these conversations. Continue to seek Divine Guidance and Spirit’s revelation as you weigh deeply the way forward for FCNL—one that respects the different religious and moral perspectives we all carry.

Your responses are requested by May 1, 2023. Your group can submit them electronically (preferred) at fcnl.org/policycommittee or by emailing policycommittee@fcnl.org. Postal submissions can be sent to 245 2nd St, NE, Washington, DC 20002.

Please note that during its discernment, the Policy Committee will give greater weight to group responses over individual responses.

What follows are guidelines for participating in this conversation, resources to support your discernment, and answers to frequently asked questions. You can also join us on March 22 at 6:30 p.m. EST for a virtual event to aid your discernment. Click here to register.

Thank you again for your faithful and spirit-led discernment.

Ebby LuvagaIn peace,Ebby LuvagaClerk, FCNL Policy Committee

Guidelines for Participating in the Reproductive Health Care Discernment

Whether you are gathering in person, online, or in a hybrid format, we hope that your discernment will be spiritually grounded and a result of group conversations. These discussions may take many forms, including discernment by a committee, an informal group, or a First Day discussion topic. Some meetings or churches may adopt a minute expressing the sense of their group, although this is not a requirement.

Resources for Guiding your Discussion

You may want to prepare for discernment by reading the pamphlet, A Guide to Dialogue About Abortion. Tools such as this can help your conversation honor the complexity and urgency surrounding this topic.

Tips shared include honoring stories from lived experience, taking short breaks for moments of reflection, and building cultures of trust and understanding. Also refer to FCNL’s Policy Statement, The World We Seek (Section III.2.6), which outlines FCNL’s current statement on abortion issues.

To allow for the inclusion of a diversity of voices, we hope you will include people of different ages, backgrounds, and lived experiences in your discernment. Please identify at least one person who will submit your group’s responses.

Guidelines for Group Discernment

After an opening period of waiting worship, the gathering might begin with a brief description of the discernment process and the purpose of gathering. Participants may share their concerns about reproductive health care based on the queries provided to support their discernment process.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Submit your Group’s Responses

Please respond by May 1, 2023. Your group can submit electronically (preferred) at fcnl.org/policycommittee or by emailing policycommittee@fcnl.org. Postal submissions can be sent to Amelia Kegan, 245 2nd St, NE, Washington, DC 20002.

What information should you record?

Please include the following information as part of your submission:

  • Who is responding? (Group (preferred) or individual. Note your Yearly Meeting.)
  • Who participated? (The number in the group and approximate ages.)
  • What kind of gathering? (Committee meeting, informal gathering, meeting for business, etc.)
  • Who is the group’s contact person?
  • Responses to the queries.
  • Any additional comments on the process your group would like to share?

What happens to the responses after FCNL receives the submissions?

The FCNL Policy Committee, a working group of the General Committee, will read all the responses and meet to consider what meetings, churches, groups, and individuals are telling FCNL regarding reproductive health care. They will share their summary with FCNL staff and the FCNL Executive Committee, then hold listening sessions with the General Committee in the summer of 2023.

The Policy Committee will bring its recommendation to the FCNL General Committee during its Annual Meeting in November 2023.

Throughout the process, the discernment by Friends across the country remains at the center of the committee’s consideration.

Where can I find more information?

You can find the contents of the previous mailing here. If you have additional questions, contact Policy Committee members Ebby Luvaga (luvaga@iastate.edu) and Genie Stowers (gstowers835@gmail.com).

Two Presentations on Wabanaki Matters, March 8 (6:30 pm) and March 17 (noon)

Peace and Social Concerns calls our attention to two presentations about Wabanaki related matters. Both will be via ZOOM, and both require prior registration.

March 8: Why Tribal Sovereignty? 6:30-8:00 pm, Via ZOOM;

UPDATE: link to introductions here; link to presentation here

A discussion with Maulian Dana, Penobscot Nation Ambassador & President of the Wabanaki Alliance.

Maine, alone among all other states in the U.S., does not recognize the sovereignty of the federally recognized tribes in our state—sovereignty honored in the U.S. Constitution and inherent in the Wabanaki people who have lived on and stewarded this land we now call Maine for thousands of years. Bills submitted to the 131st legislature seek to restore Wabanaki tribal sovereignty in a step towards repairing the broken tribal/state relations. Join us in learning why acknowledging and restoring Wabanaki sovereignty will benefit all people who live in Maine.

This event is a collaboration of Midcoast Indigenous Awareness Group, Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick Maine, and Curtis Memorial Library

Date: Wednesday, March 8, 2023; Time: 6:30pm – 8:00pm

This is an online event. Registration is required. Event URL will be sent via registration email.

March 17: Federal Indian Policy: Impacts on the Wabanaki Nations in Maine…And Beyond, Noon to 1 pm, via ZOOM; registration required

A recent report from Harvard University found that “the subjugation of the Wabanaki Nation’s self-governing capacities is blocking economic development to the detriment of both tribal and nontribal citizens, alike. For the tribal citizens of Maine held down by MICSA’s restrictions, loosening or removing those restrictions offers them little in the way of downside risks and much in the way of upside payoffs.” Professor Joe Kalt, co-director of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, will discuss results of the Project’s recent study of the impacts of the unique provisions of the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act on the Wabanaki Nations.

Sponsored by Maine Conservation Voters. Registration is required.

Woman’s Society Zoom Meeting Minutes, February 20, 2023

Present: Dorothy Curtis, President, Nancy Marstaller, Treasurer, Susan Gilbert, Secretary, Dorothy Hinshaw, Marian Baker, Qat Langelier

Cards: For Friends.

Program and Devotions: We took turns reading from Blueprint, the Program, “Abounding in Hope” by Ruthie Tippin.

– “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow, abounding in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,” Romans 15:13.

– Summarizing Ruthie Tippin, we can find God in simple, ordinary people and things, if we pay attention.

– In the words of Job Scott, Quaker Friend, in 1765, heaven within begins in (quoting Matthew), “. . . the least of all seeds.”

– Ruthie Tippin bids us to “imagine carrying the seeds of divine life in your pocket each day. Hope. Joy. Peace. Trust.”

– In summation: Starting with what we have, acting in hopefulness, trusting in God, we move from helplessness to hopefulness.

Minutes: Susan read the minutes from the 1/16/2023 meeting.

Treasurer’s Report:

   $168.06 in checking

   $2198.29 in CD (for Triennial expenses)

   Total $2366.35

   (plus $25 in savings)

Please note: Nancy Marstaller, Treasurer, will send a detailed version of the annual financial report to anyone interested.

Prayers: For Friends.

Tedford Meal: Team C prepared meat loaf, veggies, baked potatoes and dessert. Next month, Team D, Dorothy Curtis, team leader, will bring the meal.

Other Business: Marian Baker spoke with us in depth about upcoming USFW plans. 

–There will be a board meeting of USFWI March 23 – 25.

–The hybrid Northeast Regional Gathering is May 6 and 7 in Buffalo, NY.  Marian is going to both events and welcomes anyone interested to contact her.

– The USFWI Triennial will be held in Nakuru, Kenya July 2 – 8. 

– The World Day of Prayer on July 1 will be spent in prayers and singing in Kenya. 

– Dorothy Curtis hopes to travel to Africa with others from our area.

– Dorothy Hinshaw has boxes of books for Kenya which Marian will look over.

– Marian is working with Senator Jeanne Shaheen of NH and Elizabeth Warren of MA to help a Kenyan woman pastor get a visa to visit the US.

Dorothy Curtis ended the meeting with a poem by Florence Earle Coates:

Who Walks The World With Soul Awake

Who walks the world with soul awake
Finds beauty everywhere;
Though labor be his portion,
Though sorrow be his share,
He looks beyond obscuring clouds,
Sure that the light is there!

And if, the ills of mortal life
Grown heavier to bear,
Doubt come with its perplexities
And whisper of despair,
He turns with love to suffering men—
And, lo! God, too, is there.

Respectfully Submitted, Susan Gilbert

“The Basis of Holy Obedience,” 1948

At the beginning of unprogrammed worship on February 26, 2023 at Durham Friends Meeting, Joyce Gibson (providing Care of Worship) read this selection from NEYM’s 1985 Faith and Practice on “The Basis of Holy Obedience” (p. 102):

The Basis of Holy Obedience

Worship, according to the ancient practice of the Religious Society of Friends, is entirely without any human direction or supervision. A group of devout persons come together and sit down quietly with no prearrangement, each seeking to have an immediate sense of divine leading and to know at first hand the presence of the Living Christ. It is not wholly accurate to say that such a Meeting is held on the basis of Silence; it is more accurate to say that it is held on the basis of “Holy Obedience.” Those who enter such a Meeting can harm it in two specific ways: first, by an advanced determination to speak; and second by an advanced determination to keep silent. The only way in which a worshipper can help such a Meeting is by an advanced determination to try to be responsive in listening to the still small voice and doing whatever may be commanded. — Statement prepared for a Friends’ meeting attended by delegates to the World Council of Churches in Amsterdam, Holland, in 1948.

Bread Day Gathering, Portland Friends Meeting, March 4, 2023

Portland Friends Meeting will host a Bread Day gathering for local Friends on March 4th. Arrive between 10:30am and 11am and we’ll end between 4:30pm and 5pm.

We will nourish our bellies and our spirits by worshipping and baking together and building relationships across generations. All ages are welcome, especially youth and families.

This year, Portland’s Bread Day will just be in person, with no hybrid or online component.

Watch this sweet little video about what Bread Day was like last year across the whole Yearly Meeting. Read more about Bread Day here.

RSVP here

Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, February 19, 2023

approved, March 19, 2023

Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends met for the conduct of business on Sunday, February 19, 2023, with 8 people attending from the Meetinghouse and by 4 Zoom.

1. Meeting Opening

Clerk opened the meeting with a period of silent worship and read from Friends Committee on National Legislation  “Tips to maintain dialogue across disagreement: Listen empathetically. Ask open-ended questions. Share your story, rather than argue over facts.” Listen, ask, share…..

2.     Website Tour — Doug Bennett

A tour of Durham Monthly Meeting’s website was conducted by the Meeting’s web coordinator, to familiarize Meeting members with this resource. Beginning with a shared image of the DFM homepage, each of the elements of the homepage were reviewed.

The website is made up of a number of “static” pages: e.g., a page for Visitors, one titled “Our Meeting” which has a number of additional links, a page for Peace and Social Concerns, etc.

All information posted on the website comes through a Meeting committee. The one page that is not static is the News and Messages page. This page is updated regularly with messages given at meeting, as well as invitations to events.

Because there are a great number of documents available through the website, there are two search boxes to assist in finding specific documents. A list of categories, which is also available, may assist in finding specific information.

There are three important uses of the website: 1. Giving immediate shared access to information, which is posted within 24 hours of being received. 2. As an on-line archive. 3. As a tool for outreach — the website is findable by anyone, not just members.

The weekly email, “This Week at DFM” includes hot links to everything that has been added recently to the website.

Members noted that the website is another way to keep us connected as a community. Others noted that Friends from other meetings have complimented the webpage. Doug received thanks for his work.

3.     Approval of Minutes of January 2023 — Ellen Bennett

                        Minutes were approved as submitted.

4.     Finance Committee Report — Nancy Marstaller

        Clerk pointed out that a total of 4 documents were distributed, including end-of-year reports.

Highlights of the end-of-year report from 2022 were noted. The Meeting is in good financial shape. Our weekly contributions were down, but this deficit was countered by bequests and end-of-year giving. Our expenses were also lower for 2022, leaving us in good financial shape. Only 67% of what we budgeted in expenditures was spent.

A summary of expenses outside of our regular operating expenses was also provided.

A Balance Sheet was presented. The question was raised as to the division of restricted vs. unrestricted money. Finance Clerk responded that all money reported on the Balance Sheet is unrestricted. The difference between “designated” and “restricted” funds was explained.

Finance Clerk then reviewed the financial report for February.

The Finance Committee asks the Meeting set a date for a Threshing Session. The agenda should include determining a tithing amount for building Charity funds, as well as the use of the Parsonage funds. Clerk suggested March 26th.

                The date of Sunday, March 26th for a Threshing Session was approved.

The Meeting also approved up to $1000 from Charity account to support Dorothy Curtis to attend the United Society of Friends Women—Kenya, Triennial, in July. These funds would be added to funds from other sources. 

                Meeting approved this support.

5.     Ministry and Counsel — Renee Cote, Tess Hartford

Regarding someone to provide tech support, the best solution has been discerned to be someone with technology expertise. Several suggestions have been made. It was noted that it might be best if this person is not a member of the meeting; tending to tech issues can take away from the worship experience. The feeling was expressed that we should still have volunteers, Meeting members, available to assist as back-up. Asking someone to come every Sunday for just a couple of hours might be difficult. A paid person could be responsible for technology set-up, checking to make sure that things are working, with Meeting-member volunteers to work during worship.

To improve the technology set-up, microphones would be rearranged. The current mic at the podium would be replaced by 2 free-standing mics. Hand-held mics have also been used successfully in other places, and should be tested in the Meetinghouse.

M&C will continue to discuss this issue and bring a recommendation back to the Meeting.

Ezra Smith’s request for Meeting membership was brought forward. The Clearness Committee will be providing a letter of support for Ezra to be included with these minutes. Committee members were asked to provide a summary of the conversation with Ezra. The best date to welcome Ezra into Membership will be determined.

                  The Meeting united in joyfully approving Ezra’s request for Membership.

The Meeting Care Coordinator job description was read and reviewed. M&C is looking for suggestions and approval of this description. The suggestion was made to add that the MCC would reach out to the co-Clerks of M&C for counsel support as needed. In addition, the recommendation was made to add that preference for hiring would be given to a person with familiarity with Quaker programmed or semi-programmed meetings for worship and Quaker values.

The financial implications of hiring an MCC as well as a technology person, and perhaps a new youth minister, given that our weekly income has dropped off significantly of late, raises the question: Are we financially sound? Can we afford this easily? The tech support position might cost the Meeting more than an MCC. The funds have been budgeted for MCC for 2023. If the wish is to move forward with two positions, the Meeting has to make certain that it has funds to support both.

                  The Meeting approved the job description as amended.

                  The Meeting approved that M&C post the job description and seek applicants.

6.     Trustees — Sarah Sprogell

No action items were brought forward with the Trustees report.

Trustees informed the Meeting that an outside group is renting and would be using the Meetinghouse this coming week.

The dates that outside groups are using the Meetinghouse are posted on the Google calendar via the website, as well as the paper Meetinghouse calendar posted in the Gathering Room.                                                       

7.     Peace and Social Concerns — Ingrid Chalufour

        Clerk read the Peace and Social Concerns report. There were no action items.                  

8.     New Business — Leslie Manning

Wendy asked to bring a presentation from MEIRS of Lewiston on the fourth Sunday in February at the rise of meeting.

                The Meeting approved this event.

Request for concert — Peter Blood and Annie Patterson requested use of the Meetinghouse to host a concert at the end of April. A concern about masking was raised, given that their concerts are sing-alongs. Because it is important to be consistent about masking, the Meeting agreed that it is appropriate to ask concert-goers to be masked, but not Annie and Peter. Intergenerational special events group will take the lead on coordinating this.

                Meeting approved hosting the concert.

9.     Closing Worship

Clerk thanked everyone for hard, concerted work in listening to one another and lifting up concerns about our work together, and particularly hold M&C in the light as they prepare the State of Society Report. Hold one another tenderly, and listen together for God’s will for our community.

Clerk closed the meeting with moments of silent worship, and a reading Ezra’s letter of intent to become a member of Durham Friends Meeting.

Respectfully submitted,

Ellen Bennett, Recording Clerk

“It’s Time to Write a State of Society Report,” February 19, 2023

Worship at Durham Friends Meeting on February 19, 2023 focused on our annual practice of writing a ‘A State of Society’ report for this Meeting for 2022. You can find State of Society Reports from previous years at this link.

Tess Hartford gave a message about State of Society Reports that also carried a request for contributions tyo our annual report.

         What is the State of Society Report? According to our Faith and Practice we receive these words as the purpose and value of such a report. “At the end of the calendar year, Ministry and Counsel should appoint one or more of its members to prepare and present to its sessions a report on the state of the monthly meeting. The report when approved should be forwarded to the Monthly Meeting. When approved by the Monthly Meeting, it should be forwarded to the quarterly meeting and then on to the yearly meeting. The report should be a searching self examination by the meeting and its members of their spiritual strengths and weaknesses and of the efforts to foster growth in the spiritual life. Reports may cover the full range of interest and concerns and should emphasize those indicative of spiritual health of the meeting.”

        Things to consider are following:

           ` Quality of worship and spiritual ministry;

           `efforts to foster spiritual growth;

           ` stands taken on Friends’ principles;

           ` personal and family relations;

           ` relations with community and other religious groups;

           ` participation in general activities of Friends;

           ` significant activities, outreach, or concerns of the local meeting;

           ` youth of the meeting; and

           `the meeting community;

And to this list I would also add; encouragement of gifts and leadings among meeting members and attenders. So those of us who make up the M&C committee have before us the charge if you will to generate this State of Society report, but as co-clerk of Ministry and Counsel, along with Renee Cote, I am eager to hear form all of you since we are all carrying various thoughts, sentiments, hopes and fears, and concerns as individuals. We are all in this together .What do you think are some of our strengths and some of our weaknesses? How have we grown together this last year? What are some of the challenges we face and where do we need to place more of our attention? And what is important to each of us as we face this new year ahead?

           I will share with you some of my “burden” on my soul. When I use the word “burden” I don’t mean something that is distasteful or repulsive or something I am so weighed down by that I feel hopeless.IN this instance when I use the word”burden” I frame it as a hea in vy concern. Then, if I name it, I can share it and when I share it, it becomes lighter, and not so heavy. In the words of our great teacher Jesus of Nazareth, we are heartened when he said, “Come to me all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. I am gentle and humble in spirit. Accept my work and learn from me” My burden is light!!!! Let’s meditate on that for a moment- my burden is light. We are given the word light- we have been given the light in which we are covered, covered, so that might carry that yoke of light wherever we are. The opportunity to embrace this light is through our relationship with the living Christ within. The Christ light that asks us to gently surrender our small grievances, our fears of uncertainty, our sense of hopelessness and our deep woundedness. A collective woundedness that we all experience through loneliness, isolation and our sense of separateness from life and from each other.

            I believe that in this examination of our lives as individuals and as a community of seekers, the burden of light requires us to pick up some of the lost threads, and to reach across the divides among us, to show up and submit to the light of God’s power and presence in order to heal our wounds. I believe that we must ask for the humility to see one another as true brothers and sisters, friends, and lean into each other with radical trust and openness. And so Friends, I ask each one of you to examine what is on your heart and to take a little time to write down what are your concerns, your sense of our strengths and weaknesses and to consider where the light is leading us for the good of the whole. What is important to you as a vital member of this community of the Society of Friends? We of M&C ask you to share your thoughts and hearts’ desires, so that we together can build on and continue to grow stronger. To become more forbearing, more loving, more vital and more compassionate with ourselves and the world..The body of Christ who pray and worship together, who work and joy together, who shine light in a world that sorely needs.it. Shining a light, respecting and appreciating our differences, siding on correctness of attitude and communicating our kindness to and with each other. Being a candle flame that can be felt and perceived even in the darkest of times. We have so much for which to be grateful.

At the beginning of Meeting, Leslie Manning (care of worship) read a letter from Sarah Gant (Clerk of the Meeting Accompaniment Group) and Noah Baker Merrill (General Secretary) of New England Yearly Meeting:

“It is that time of year when we gather in our local meetings to reflect on our collective condition as a faith community. This process is a chance to prayerfully reflect: What is our growing edge as a spiritual community? How is the Spirit moving among us? Where have we found sustenance and nurture? How have we sought to hold up and care for our meeting communities?

“The draft chapter on Ministry & Counsel (https://neym.org/engage-texts-currently-under-discussion) from the Faith and Practice Revision Committee offers some guidance on the State of Society process:

“Corporate discernment on its spiritual condition helps the community see how it has been led, how faithfully it has responded to challenges, and where it might need to focus its attention in the future. It helps bind the community and renew its sense of commitment.

“Reports may cover the full range of interests and concerns but typically emphasize those indicative of the spiritual health of the meeting—both that which is thriving and that which is challenging, changing, or needs strengthening, such as:

  • The quality of worship and vocal ministry
  • The strength of relationships and trust within the meeting community
  • Efforts to foster spiritual growth and evidence of growth
  • Possible hardships for the meeting, and how Friends are responding to those challenges
  • Significant events or activities in the meeting’s year together
  • Social or civic concerns of the meeting and stands taken on Friends’ religious principles
  • Service and relationship with Friends beyond the local meeting
  • Relations with the community and other religious groups

“It is important for us, as a gathered community of monthly meetings and worship groups across New England, to hear how Spirit is at work in our midst.

“from Sarah Gant, Clerk, Meeting Accompaniment Group and Noah Merrill, General Secretary, New England Yearly Meeting”

Craig Freshley to Offer Workshop at FWCC Section of the Americas Gathering, March 25, 2023

Durham Friends Meeting member Craig Freshley will offer a workshop at the upcoming meeting of Friends World Committee for Consultation/ Section of the Americas to be held March 23-26, 2023. Flyer here.

The Workshops at the gathering will be held on Saturday, March 25, from 1:30 to 5:00 pm. Here is how Craig’s workshop is described:

Craig Freshley

Together We Decide: Practical Tools for What the World Needs

Of course there are moral reasons for collaboration and inclusive decision making, yet in this dynamic and interactive workshop Craig will explain the practical benefits for helping all voices be heard. And he’s going to teach us how to do it. By telling stories and explaining techniques, Craig will equip you and inspire you to help your own group make decisions together so tensions resolve and way opens for peace and prosperity. Handouts and other resources provided.


The event will be held in North Carolina (in person registration here) and you can also attend via Zoom (online registration here). The gathering is offered on a pay-as-led basis.

Materials for Durham Friends Business Meeting, February 19, 2023

The materials for Durham Friends Meeting’s February 19, 2023 Meeting for Business for Worship are available at this link.

Proposed Agenda for Meeting for Worship for the Conduct of Business, February 19, 2023

Opening Reading and worship

Website Tour

Minutes of Previous Meeting (available here)

Finance Committee Report

  — Request for Threshing Session

  — Charity Fund Request

Ministry and Counsel Report

  — Meeting Care Coordinator

  — Membership Recommendation

Trustees Report

Peace and Social Concerns Report

New Business

  — Request for Concert

  — MEIR info session

Closing Worship

Maine Quaker Visitors to Cuba

Left to right: Hannah Colbert, Sue Nelson, Fritz Weiss, and Kim Bolshaw are traveling to the NEYM “Puente de Amor” (“Bridge of Friends”) from February 15 through February 27. May we join with them spiritually, through prayer with light and love. They will visit our sister Meeting, Velasco Friends Meeting.

“Can Sophie Change the World?” by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

The February 12 message at Durham Friends Meeting was “Can Sophie Change the World?” a children’s book by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace and illustrated by Aura Lewis.

Ingrid Chalufour, clerk of our Peace and Social Concerns Committee read the book this morning. It is one of the books being distributed to school teachers in this area through our Social Justice Enrichment Project.

Here’s the Publisher’s Weekly summary of the book: “When Sophie asks Grandpop what he wants for his birthday, he gives her a tall order: for the week leading up to his birthday, he asks Sophie to change the world via kind deeds, or mitzvahs. Dubious about the impact she can make, she approaches the week with a new level of attentiveness and intentionality, and Lewis’s delicate mixed-media vignettes show Sophie modeling consideration and thoughtfulness in her day-to-day. Though Sophie continues to believe that “I didn’t change the world,” Grandpop begs to differ; as Wallace writes, Sophie has helped make it a “more giving, sharing, blooming, caring place,” and the pink-skinned, Jewish-cued family celebrates by crafting a flower-like record of her good deeds. Some readers may wish for a clearer explanation of mitzvah, including connection to the Jewish tradition, but the story effectively shows how every kind act creates its own momentum of good. Ages 3–5.”

The book was also reviewed in the Friends Journal issue of December 1, 2022.

“Yes to the Troops, No to the Wars,” by Wayne Finegar, Quaker House, Fayetteville North Carolina

The message at Durham Friends Meeting on February 5 was “Yes to the Troops, No to the Wars,” by Wayne Finegar, the Executive Director of Friends House in North Carolina. He spoke about the ministry of Friends House, about his own role in being its leader — a ministry of service he called it — and about his preparation (also doubts) for doing this work. He grew up in Sandy Spring Friends Meeting where he is still a member, went to Swarthmore College, earned a law degree, worked for a time as an attorney, married and became a stay-at-home dad, then worked for Baltimore Yearly Meeting (Associate General Secretary, then Acting General Secretary), before coming to Quaker House a year ago — just as the war in Ukraine began. He shared with us this description of Quaker House (“a place of peace in a place of war” that “works to end wars and militarism”):

What is Quaker House?

Quaker House is a manifestation of the Friends’ (or Quaker) Peace Testimony. Based in Fayetteville, NC, home of Ft. Bragg, Quaker House provides counseling and support to service members who are questioning their role in or treatment by the military; educates them, their families, and the public about military issues; and advocates for a more peaceful world.

Quaker House began in 1969 when Dean Holland, a Vietnam era soldier seeking CO (conscientious objector) discharge, hitch-hiked from Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina to Chapel Hill Friends Meeting to request their help. Once there, he said to the Meeting, “Quakers should be in Fayetteville.”

The response of Chapel Hill Friends was the founding of Quaker House. The work was soon joined by Durham and Raleigh Friends Meetings, and then by other meetings and supportive individuals. By July 1969, the Board named the first director, Wood Bouldin, and rented a house near downtown Fayetteville.

In the 50+ years then, Quaker House has evolved in a variety of ways, in response U.S. wars and their harmful effects on our service members, their families, the Fayetteville community, and the nation.

Our founding support for active military participants has become the GI Rights Hotline. Along with other groups, Quaker House’s counselors handle several thousand calls per year, from military members stationed anywhere over the world. The counselors advise on issues of conscientious objection, AWOL, forms of discrimination, harassment, and other related issues.

The recognition of the effects of trauma on the military and their families led to the development of the Quaker House Counseling Service. We provide confidential counseling for participants and families experiencing domestic abuse, moral injury, and substance abuse.

Quaker House is deeply rooted in the traditions and practices of the Religious Society of Friends. After more than fifty years, we remain steadfast in our motto: “Yes to the Troops. No to the Wars.” This means advocacy for peace and against militarism in our schools, our homes, and our society.

The counseling provided through the GH Rights Hotline and the Counseling Service is free to everyone. Quaker House depends on the support of donations to continue our work.

For more information: Wayne Finegar, Quaker House Executive Director

quakerhouse.org                  910-323-3912                       execdirector@quakerhouse.org

GI Rights Hotline       24/7

GIRightsHotline.org              877-447-4487

NEYM Living Faith Gathering, April 1 in Portland

We are excited to announce a next chapter in the ongoing experiment of daylong opportunities for spiritual nurture and intergenerational relationship, what we have called “Living Faith.” On April 1, 2023, after a four-year absence, we are looking forward to greeting Friends again in Portland, Maine. More details and registration info is coming soon. In the meantime, please mark your calendars!

A refresher on Living Faith: the Living Faith gathering is an opportunity for Friends new and old (and the Quaker-curious) to get to know one another, hold multigenerational worship together, participate in interactive workshops, eat tasty food, share the different ways we experience and live our faith, and build community. Age-appropriate youth programming and childcare will be available, in addition to some parts of Living Faith programming being intergenerational, like worship. More about a teen-specific offering below.

Workshops sought for Living Faith

We are now seeking workshop proposals for the April 1st Living Faith gathering in Portland, ME. Our 90-minute workshops provide an opportunity for adult and teen Friends to explore their Quaker faith, connect around an area of interest, and make meaningful connections through activities, conversations, or worship. Do you have a workshop idea? Experienced and emerging facilitators alike are invited to submit a workshop proposal by February 5th. Details here.

Living Faith teen retreat

New this year is a weekend retreat for teens built around participating in Living Faith together. Youth age 13-18 are invited to arrive on Friday evening, sleep over on site on Friday and Saturday nights, and participate alongside adults and families at Living Faith on Saturday. There will be time on Friday and Saturday nights for teens to connect with one another, share what the experience was like for them, and have fun with their peers, with support from a few adult staffers. Contact Maggie Fiori (Teen Ministries Coordinator) for more info.

All Maine Gathering, May 6, 2023 — Save the Date


Quakers in Maine gather every other year on the First Saturday in May.

There may be an opportunity to join a contra dance of Friday evening and then be part of a Friday retreat experience.  The All Maine gathering is an opportunity to celebrate our communities as Quakers in Maine, to build relationships and to share and support our ministries. There are some very exciting possibilities being explored.  We will have a rich and wonderful time together.


More details to follow

With love from the All Maine Gathering Planning Team.

Woman’s Society Zoom Meeting Minutes, January 16, 2023

January 16, 2023

Susan Gilbert, Secretary 

Present: Dorothy Curtis, President, Susan Gilbert, Secretary, Kim Bolshaw

Dorothy quoted for Martin Luther King Day his statement that “hate doesn’t get rid of hate, love does.”

Card Ministry: Kim will send cards to Friends. She will obtain a copy of The Advocate, which lists names and birthdays of Quaker missionaries and make cards to them available for Durham Friends to sign after Meeting.

Program and Devotions: Kim brought the program using the Pendle Hill publication “Quaker Life” on the subject of gentleness by Melissa Snyder. Gentleness as our response should not be thought a sign of weakness. The Lord asks that our gentleness be an action, not just a response. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to say, “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” We can emulate Christ by using positive communication and patience in interactions such as teachers advocating for children with their parents. We can listen and allow ourselves to hear the still small voice of God.

Treasurer’s Report: Since November we received $5 in dues and $100 in memory of Helen Clarkson, Charlotte Anne Curtis and Margaret Wentworth. We paid $38.13 for Blueprints publication and have a balance of $111.05 in the general account. We have $2023.67 available for triennial expenses.

Minutes: Susan read the minutes of the 12/19/22 meeting.

Next Meeting: February 20 at 7 PM. 

Prayers: For Friends healing and safety in travel.

Tedford Meal: Team B’s meal for January 2 was roast beef, potatoes, green bean casserole, salad, brownies, oranges, ice cream and cookies. Next meal will be prepared by Team C, with Sarah Sprogell team leader. Tedford Meal Teams would appreciate contributions of food or donations toward the meal.  Teams with each leader’s name and phone number are posted at the Meeting House.

New Business: Dorothy Curtis will be traveling to Africa and Kim Bolshaw will be traveling to Cuba in 2023, and both will record their experience in photos. Dorothy will contact Marian Baker, who is also going to Africa for the Friends United Meeting, United Society of Friends Women International Triennial, to be held in Nakuru, Kenya, in July, 2023. Kim, with three Portland Friends, will visit our Sister Meeting in Velasco, Cuba from February 15-27. The trip will include a visit to Cuba Yearly Meeting, which is from February 16 to 20.

Dorothy ended the meeting with a quote she found in the book “Wonder of Comfort”:

“God shall be my hope, my stay, my guide and lantern to my feet.”

—William Shakespeare

Respectfully submitted, Susan Gilbert

Falmouth Quarterly Meeting Minutes, January 28, 2023


Brunswick: Marian Dalton, Christine Holden

Durham: Kim Bolshaw, Wendy Schlotterbeck, Leslie Manning, Susan Gilbert (Regrets, Mey Hasbrook)

Portland: Fritz Weiss, Sue Reilly, Ann Dodd-Collins, Sydney McDowell, Andy Grannell, Dorothy Grannell, Wayne Cobb

Southern Maine: Louise Sandmeyer

Windham: Julianne Moore, Janice Beattie (pastor), Penny Loura (clerk), Nancy Dolittle, Betty Davis

Theme: These are challenging times; what is before us is difficult.  Our focus is paying attention to what is exercising us, what we are feeling passionate about or called to. 

Song:  Lift Every Voice and Sing, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEjUVV4_-2w

Wendy Schlotterbeck led us into open, waiting worship with a passage from John Lewis’ memoir, Walking With the Wind, in which he wrote about a childhood memory and Beloved Community.

Following open worship we chose one of four breakout rooms and had almost 50 minutes to read or view the prompt and share our reflections.

ROOM 1 Sailing in the Fog- read and share reflections https://docs.google.com/document/d/1XxHmfEExRvFbFc8oftgSV9MDUKaCMbml/edit

ROOM 2 Praying with clay or markers https://docs.google.com/document/d/1uauG2caHYlyAepKyXlckLiyou7_pgL_DXcj6CYmMvhQ/edit#

ROOM 3 Praying with Poetry https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Dx708p_HjFprmScXl1P96cdw7A8rWX81lmgwTfslyAw/edi

ROOM 4 Movement as prayer- Parable of the trapeze https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWvV5N4hOGc

Following a short break, Wayne Cobb introduced the proposed “FQM Minute on the Inherent Right of Tribal Sovereignty of the Wabanaki”.  (Attached)   A similar minute has already been approved by Vassalboro Quarter.  Several questions and concerns were raised.  It was pointed out that this minute does not support a specific bill; it acknowledges and supports the sovereignty of the Wabanaki Tribes and Nations within Maine and supports bills that will come before the Maine Legislature that would recognize and implement tribal sovereignty.  More information is available on the Wabanaki Alliance website, https://wabanakialliance.com/, and Wayne is willing to answer questions, wcobb2@gmail.com.


Recognizing that by doing so we are also committing to further action as opportunities arise.

Wayne Cobb will send the updates on Wabanaki issues that he currently sends to Portland Friends Meeting to all the meetings in Falmouth Quarter.

We closed with a period of worship, expecting to gather again at the All Maine Gathering on May 6, 2023.

Minute on the Inherent Right of Tribal Sovereignty Of the Wabanaki People and the Support for Bills before the Maine State Legislature that would Recognize and Implement Tribal Sovereignty

Woman’s Society Hybrid Meeting Minutes, December 19, 2022

Present: Dorothy Curtis, President, Susan Gilbert, Secretary, Kim Bolshaw

Card Ministry: Kim will send cards.

Program and Devotions: Dorothy read the illustrated children’s book “Three Wise Women,” by Mary Hoffman, a retelling of the story of Jesus’ birth.  Three women are drawn to follow star and moon light, meet each other on the road to the manger, and bring gifts to the child.

Treasurer’s Report: No report this month.

Minutes: Susan read the minutes from our November 21 meeting.

Next Meeting: January 15, 2023 at 7:00 p.m.

Prayers: For Friends.

Tedford Meal: Team A provided mac and cheese with ham, salad greens, rolls, cookies and ice cream.  Team B will bring the meal January 2, 2023. Tedford Meal Teams would appreciate contributions of food or donations toward the meal.  Tedford Teams and their leader’s name and phone number will be posted at the Meeting House.

Other Business: We hope that the Woman’s Society will meet regularly at the Meeting House. We would like to continue the tradition of the Christmas gift exchange, and revive the tradition of sending birthday cards to missionaries in the field.  We remembered the passing around of Margaret Wentworth’s purple clipboard after meetings with cards to be signed.

Respectfully submitted, Susan Gilbert, Secretary

“Peace Is an Inside Job,” by Craig Freshley

World peace is a nice idea, but when news of conflicts from around the world are so abundant on my screens I can find myself drowning in despair.

I’ve learned some simple tricks to help me foster peace in a battle-torn world. First of all, the world is not my responsibility. Of course people are suffering, yet just because I know about it doesn’t mean I should do something about it. I have choices.

Someone once told me, “Detachment is the key to peace.” When I read a headline about homeless people in the cold I have two choices: do something about it or let it go. Fretting about “what needs be done” or lashing out at someone else with blame are generally not good choices; they just foster, well, fretting and blame.

The trick is to foster peace in my head rather than in the world. What can I do to foster peace at home, peace with myself? My trick: I draw a line between what I can change and what I can’t. I can’t change you, for instance. And I can’t change Congress. But I can be nice to you. And I can write to Congress.

Another trick? I read historical novels and learn about the struggles of those who have gone before me. I get to see that right now, it’s not so bad. It could be worse. I develop gratitude for the current plight when I see it in the context of historical plights.

Here’s a third trick: I try to help someone else. If you want to feel good about yourself, do good things. Not think good things or post good things, but actually do good things. It brings me peace to look back on my day and take stock of what I gave, not what I got. When I try to make a ledger of what I received, it often turns into a list of “what I should have received.” For some crazy reason — maybe because I’m human — I tend to focus on the deficits. Gotta fix that. Gotta remember: I am owed nothing.

I’m not good at these tricks. Actually, right now, I’m writing this to myself. I’m reminding myself of what works to bring me peace. I’m vowing to do better.

There is no truer statement than “peace begins at home.” Doing things to make yourself more peaceful is not selfish, it’s practical. Because here’s the thing, when I’m at peace with myself it’s contagious and people nearby might catch it.

Friends United Meeting E-News, January 25, 2023

Friends United Meeting sends out a weekly e-mail newsletter (FUM Weekly E-News) that contains information about news, events and opportunities across Quakerism that may be of interest to FUM-inclined Friends.

The January 25, 2023 issue is here.

You can subscribe to the FUM Weekly E-News here.

New England Yearly Meeting is a member organization of Friends United Meeting, and Durham Friends Meeting is in turn a member of New England Yearly Meeting. New England Yearly Meeting is also a a member of Friends General Conference.

Most Quaker Yearly Meetings are affiliated with either FUM or FGC. New England Yearly Meeting, along with New York Yearly Meeting and Baltimore Yearly Meeting is unusual in being affiliated with both FUM and FGC.

“Who Against Hope Believed in Hope,” by Fritz Weiss

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, January 22, 2023

Romans 4:18: In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations; as he had been told, “So shall your descendants be.”

Last Wednesday I learned that the theme of the upcoming Yearly Meeting session in Cuba this February has a theme drawn from Romans 4: 18.  I realized that this is in fact an accurate summary of the theme of this message and it is one more example of the mysterious working of the Spirit.

This message is a personal reflection coming from the challenge I have felt in recent years to live in an attitude of hope.

I have struggled to continue to hold on to hope during the past years. It is not a new insight that one can lose hope in this world of brokenness and  troubles. And it is also true that living in the awareness of God’s presence should be a source for hope.  That hope is one of the fruits of faith and an essential attitude to be, in fact, the light of God in the world.

In the prayer attributed to St, Francis, there is a list of paired attitudes including “Where there is despair, let me find hope.”  To be honest, in the face of climate change I feel despair, in the face of the politics in the country, I feel despair, in the face of entrenched and persistent structural racism and inequality, I feel despair.  And then there is the pandemic which has separated me from community that has often connected me to the joy of God’s presence in my life.  

My meditation on hope begins with recognizing that hope often is attached to specific outcomes – hope as a form of intercessory prayer.  I hope (and pray) for peace I hope (and pray) for integrity in our politics, I hope (and pray) for healing, for the safety of my children, for relief for the captive and good news for the poor, for the climate, for justice.  

I recognize this kind of hope has an unspoken assumption of both power and privilege – these are outcomes I deserve and over which I expect to have influence. Hope is an expression of autonomy and that this is a part of the reason that faith has a hard time holding on to this hope – that that system of power and privilege is what we are called from not what we are called to. We are called to a different relationship with the world,  I am reminded that in a message that Francisco Burgos brought to Durham a couple of years ago he said “Hope attached to outcome is privilege”

And I recognize that when the outcomes I hope for do not happen, there is an invitation to despair. This kind of hope opens the door to being broken hearted.

Walter Wink, when talking about Christian non-violence as taught by Jesus, illustrated that Jesus was not talking about a binary choice between war or  peace.  Jesus  was talking about a third way – about empowered non-violent resistance – about what early Friends called the “Lambs War”.  That the binary choice was a false choice.  That faith opened unexpected doors to unexpected ways of being powerful in the world without being violent.

The Hope of Faith is different than the Hope of desire.

I would like to share a few threads of what I found over the past few months, and in which I have found a way to be hopeful while feeling despair. 

Veronice Miles on the BTS podcast “climate changed” in the episode “If I can’t make a difference than what do I do”, talked about hope as an “inward yearning for the kingdom – (the beloved community (MLK)”  – this yearning requires imagination to yearn for something that we have never experienced, something extraordinary, something barely known- what Brueggemann called a Prophetic imagination. It seems to me that this inward yearning is our part of seeking the inward light. 

Peterson Toscano talks about “Embodied hope”  – hope that comes not from our mind but that is felt in our bodies – the lift in one’s heart, one’s body when we are surprised by beauty or grace.  This is the hope of our hands and our back – the hope expressed in what we do.

Jen Wilkin in an essay on the Sermon on the Mount, talks about Jesus teaching us to obey – and knowing that we can obey and through this obedience therein lies hope.   And Jesus  is clear that obedience is to love.

The prayer Jesus taught begins with two elements – first “thy kingdom come, thy will be done”  It begins with our embracing of God’s will.  What matters is not our hoping or thinking or desiring but obedience and then the prayer continues with “Give us this day our daily bread, Forgive us our trespasses, Lead us from evil”. These are demands – we are taught to both embrace God’s will, and to demand our daily bread.

In the face of broken heartedness as an outcome of the Hope of Desire, I am trying to embrace the  Hope of Faith.  A Hope not attached to outcomes but to doing, hope not attached to wishing but to demanding,  not to knowing, but imagining, and not to thinking but feeling. Hope not as the opposite of despair, but a third way of empowered prophetic surrender.  Hope not as a choice but as the path.  

Finally Wendell Berry in one of his Sabbath Poems says “ What I fear most is despair for the world and for us; [despair which results in] forever less of beauty, silence, open air, gratitude, unbidden happiness, affection, unegotistical desire.”   Finding a way of living in that faithful stance of hope is also finding a way to experience “forever more of beauty, silence, open air, gratitude, unbidden happiness, affection, unegotistical desire.”