Announcement:  Worship & Spiritual Deepening, 18 Nov:  ‘A New Story’

After Meeting for Worship at 18:30, we invite Ffriends to sit down together (Zoomly of course) and describe how we see our society at this moment in time.  This is our current “story”.  Then, drawing on the invigorating TED Talk by George Monbiot, we will talk about how this “story” might be changed … changed in ways that are consistent with our Quaker values.  In other words:  our vision for the future.  Here is the link (we hope you will have a chance to watch it beforehand)    

We all have a private story and vision as well.  You might consider which of the following phrases speak especially to how you want to be: 

« Seigneur, fais de moi un instrument de ta paix.
Là où est la haine, que je mette l’amour.
Là où est l’offense, que je mette le pardon.
Là où est la discorde, que je mette l’union.
Là où est l’erreur, que je mette la vérité.
Là où est le doute, que je mette la foi.
Là où est le désespoir, que je mette l’espérance.
Là où sont les ténèbres, que je mette la lumière.
Là où est la tristesse, que je mette la joie.
Fais que je ne cherche pas tant
d’être consolé que de consoler,
d’être compris que de comprendre,
d’être aimé que d’aimer.
Parce que c’est en donnant que l’on reçoit,
c’est en s’oubliant qu’on se retrouve,
c’est en pardonnant qu’on obtient le pardon,
c’est en mourant que l’on ressuscite à l’éternelle vie. »

There are quite a number of resources coming forward which speak to the importance of the story we live in now and the story we want to see for the future.  For example, Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie presents a moving speech on how the stories we tell ourselves are almost invariably incomplete.  Here is the link:

Another – part of a series – illuminates the complexity of the American political story:

Obama, too, in doing the rounds with his new book, has been saying that he thinks the biggest danger to democracy right now is that we no longer have a shared framework for truth.  

Perhaps we are losing our common story as a natural result of modernization and urbanism, and conservatism just reflects our yearning for a time when we all had the same stories that religion gave us.  Perhaps we are really just people sitting around the fire waiting for a story to be told to us.  Perhaps it is not a thing to fear, but to observe and be curious about, recognizing that the collective is big enough to encompass our individual stories within it.  We just need to recognize and embrace it.  As Walt Whitman wrote,  

The past and present wilt—I have fill’d them, emptied them.

And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.

Do I contradict myself?

Very well then I contradict myself,

(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

(Commentary by WhitmanWeb, Univ. of Iowa:  For Whitman, the self is a continually evolving and expanding entity, and new experiences will always broaden and challenge and upset what a self believed earlier. We must learn to be grateful to arrive at contradictions and to cultivate a sense of a self, open and aware enough to “speak against” i.e. “contradict” the self that existed yesterday. As “Song of Myself” has demonstrated throughout, a self that does not change is a stunted identity, dead to the transforming stimuli of the multitudinous world around us, stimuli that include the transforming words of this poem.) 

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