Is there enough silence for the Word to be heard?
September 2023
(Vol. XXXVI, No. 8)
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Dear Friends ~ It always seems to me that September invites us to things new. My grandchildren have been back at school for two weeks now, but when I was their age, September, just after Labor Day weekend in the U.S, announced the “New Year”: new books, new teachers, a world of new ideas. All leading hopefully to learning, understanding, and perhaps gaining some clarity. I’m still drawn to that search for clarity — not in math or science — but in life amidst this cosmos.

After all, even the angle of the September sun speaks of clarity. Quakers call the process of discernment “Seeking Clearness.” In a context of transparency, bringing the Light to shine on an issue or decision can bring clarity. With September’s sun translucent at my window, I invite you, dear readers, to consider this realm of clarity with me in the hope we may all, if we are lucky, see waiting wonders in snippets and voices, illuminating our homes, our hearts, and our needy world. Take heart, as true clarity may prove itself a life work as fleeting as September’s butterflies, ready to gracefully swoop in again and again calling us to see things in a different light.
~ Mary Ann
Happily we bask in this September sun which illuminates all creatures.

Another fall, another turned page: was something of jubilee in that autumnal beginning as if last year’s mistakes had been wiped clean by summer?

~ Wallace Stegner in ANGLE OF REPOSE
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Lift up your eyes upon
This day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.

~ Maya Angelou from “On The Pulse of Morning” in ON THE PULSE OF MORNING
Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.

~ Walt Whitman in LEAVES OF GRASS
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Out here in the woods I can think of nothing except God. It is not so much that I think of [God] as I am aware of [God] as I am of the sun and the clouds and the blue sky and the thin cedar trees…engulfed in the simple and lucid actuality of the afternoon — I mean God’s afternoon — this sacramental moment of time when the shadows will get longer and longer and one small bird sings quietly in the cedars, one car goes by in the remote distance, and the oak leaves move in the wind.  

High up in the summer sky I watch the silent flight of a vulture, and the day goes by in prayer. This solitude confirms my call to solitude. The more I'm in it, the more I love it. 

Clearness doesn't always mean that things will be easy or comfortable. Sometimes we're given clearness to do hard or painful or scary things. But underneath the discovery of clearness on difficult questions is always the promise of Christ: I will be with you always.

~ from “What is Clearness” on the West Richmond Friends Meeting webpage
When the clerk calls for silence, I allow myself to get centered. I take a breath. Then I’m able to focus. What’s the real issue? What’s the real conflict? Am I upset about something? Is there a defect in reasoning somewhere? … It allows me to wait, maybe even for someone else who may feel a little more clear to speak which is often the most shocking and interesting to me…It’s like Wow, we’re making progress. It’s an exercise in togetherness. 

Let each one be receptive to the
Spirit that inspires
Allowing the will to respond 
with action;
And may all judgments and denials
Be released
That our souls are freed to
Serve the Light with joy!
Thus will we recognize oneness with
The Divine Spark dwelling
Within our hearts,
Fanning it to illuminate the way.

~ Nan Merrill from her interpretation of Psalm 144 in PSALMS FOR PRAYING
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I, the Rock, I the River, 
I the Tree
I am yours—
your passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, 
you have a piercing need
For this bright morning 
dawning for you.
~ Maya Angelou from “On the Pulse of Morning” in ON THE PULSE OF MORNING
On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.
And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets into you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green
and azure blue,
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.
When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

~ John O’Donohue, “Beannacht: For Josie” in TO BLESS THE SPACE BETWEEN US
People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within. 

~ Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in ON DEATH AND DYING
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How far that little candle throws its beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.

~ William Shakespeare in THE MERCHANT OF VENICE

When the day comes, we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid.
The new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light, 
If only we’re brave enough to see it.  

~ Amanda Gorman from “The Hill We Climb” in THE HILL WE CLIMB
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