Friends General Conference

Nurturing faith and Quaker practice

"Messages of Guidance," Article Contributed to Faith Column of Northfield News by Betsy Lane-Getaz

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From the Judeo-Christian tradition the prophet Micah asks and answers “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Jesus distilled it to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

How do people of faith act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God in these times? Although this summer may be no more heart-wrenching or fear-filled for some, many more of us are awakening to the pain of racism and violence and wonder what to do. In July at an international gathering of Quakers I was guided by three very different people of faith:

A retired, British white man, a theologian; an African-American woman, civil rights attorney and activist; and an Italian-American white man, a massage therapist. Each said to look in a mirror, to listen within, for guidance.

First came the invitation to ‘Take heed, dear Friends, to the promptings of love and truth in your hearts. Trust them as the leadings of God, whose light shows us our darkness and brings us to new life.’ This is the beginning point of a practice described by early Quakers, recently revived by Rex Ambler, the speaker. Specifically, when facing a challenging situation, heed the inner promptings of love and truth and trust them to guide our action, rather than passively cast blame outwardly − if only “they” would do something different. If we really trust the promptings of love and truth as light from the divine, how might we address our part in conflict and inequities to bring new life?

Then came a message from Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP, former St. Thomas law professor and a woman of deep faith. One day after a police officer killed Philando Castile, she advised that we look in a mirror to see the racism and other inequities that are woven into the foundation of our institutions and our assumptions. Justice and love would then require that we do what it takes to eradicate all vestiges of racism. Friends were visibly moved by her words, her actions and her faith.

The third message came gently, each day in a workshop with John Calvi, who helps people release emotional and physical pain resulting from trauma. As my partner and I practiced techniques of body work and energy work to release weariness and pain he frequently reminded us to focus inwardly. “Gather more stillness, more calm, more peace … then make your gift.” From his faith and experience he encouraged us to trust an inner place of deep knowing for clarity about what to do and the courage to do it

From your faith (or non-faith) tradition, what are the imperatives of justice, love, truth, mercy and humility in 2016?

--This article originally appeared in the Northfield News "Faith Column" on August 26, 2016.

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