Viewpoint from Lynn Meale for 2nd August 2013
Member of Yarmouth Quaker Meeting
of the Religious Society of Friends.
As a stranger to you perhaps you question why I address you thus.
The answer is simple, Jesus asks us to ‘love one another’; to nurture our common humanity, to value and respect others, a difficult task which requires tolerance. Jesus does not ask the impossible; for us to like everybody, he knows our frailties.
As a Quaker I am encouraged to ‘seek that of God in everyone’ which I understand to mean that as all people possess a divine spark (which I choose to call my soul) then the option where to exercise tolerance vanishes. This divine spark I believe to be God given and the tool to which we can respond to God and mankind.
It is easy to practise tolerance with those who are like us but much more difficult with others of a different faith or culture.
The British Quaker manner of worship is to sit together silently trying to discern God’s will. Sharing ministry only when we think it may be of benefit to others. This may seem strange to you.
As Quakers come from a variety of cultural and religious backgrounds, they hold diverse beliefs. The unifying bonds which bind Quakers together are our Social Testimonies for instance the Peace Testimony. I cannot presume to speak for other Quakers.
I believe if we look for our similarities instead of our differences then we can all work together to achieve common goals.
Surely we all strive to become the best person we can be, following God’s will as we understand it, struggling together to create a more wholesome world for everybody.
Somebody once said to me ‘Quakerism is more of a way of life than a religion.’ I regarded this as a great compliment. I would be overjoyed to think that all of my life and self is lived in such harmony with God’s will that my existence would be a living homage to God. Sadly I fall short of this ideal; being all too human.
I would like to share this story with you.
A man named George died and went to Heaven, where he met St Peter at Heaven’s gate. George held in his hand a large crystal. St Peter said ‘Welcome George. What is that you are holding’? George replied ‘This crystal contains the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth regarding the path to follow to reach Heaven in death. I wish to give it to you as a gift’. As he stretched out his arm to give it away it fell from his hand to earth; shattering into many shards. George’s face fell in dismay. St Peter said consolingly ‘Never mind George you don’t need it now as you have already reached Heaven.’ George replied ‘What is worrying me, is that all those who find one shard may think they have the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, the only path to Heaven, when they just have a piece of it’.