Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Reflections from Pendle Hill, the heart and soul of Quakerism

I arrived last night at Pendle Hill, the Quaker center for study and contemplation near Philadelphia which I last visited in the fall of 2010. Last time I was here, I took part in Paul Lacy's poetry class and had a delightful "vacation in poetry land." See

I sometimes describe PH as the heart and soul of Quakerism--it's where Friends of all types come to recharge their spiritual batteries and reconnect with their Inward Light.

It's a modest place, with old stone houses and lots of trees. Friends meet in an old barn to worship and share insights and ideas. The ambience is peaceful, simple and Quakerly, which is not to say that conflicts don't ever arise here. They do, often, since people often come here when their lives are in crisis, but somehow Friends learn how to muddle through, and grow spiritually. It was here that I met my wife of blessed memory twenty-five years ago and spent a year deepening my understanding of Quakerism. I have frequently returned and regard PH as my spiritual home.

One of the joys of coming to PH is that one always encounters old friends, often unexpectedly. During this recent visit I have seen John de Valcourt (Santa Cruz MM), Elaine Emily, George and Eleanor Owen, John Myers, Linda Goldstein, Darlene Walker, Carol Sexton, Lloyd Guindon, Beck Birtha, and many others in passing. It's like a family reunion, a gathering place for the tribe of Friendly seekers.

I am here today to meet with Doug Gwyn and Shirley Dodson about the Brinton symposium I am helping to organize in June of this year. I have written a book about the Brintons, who were early directors of PH and played a major role in shaping 20th century Quakersim. You can find out more at

This morning was wet and foggy, perfect weather for writing, so I hunkered down with my laptop in the library and composed a blog entry entitled "Are blogs Quakerly? And how do they help Universalism?" See

Tonight I am looking forward to taking part in a student presentation involving creative play and acting, organized by a live wire by the name of Beth Popelka (the "creativity coordinator" at PH). I don't know exactly what it will be about, but I'm sure it will be fun and expand my spiritual horizon!

Tomorrow I plan to go to the annual session of FWCC as the Pacific YM rep. I am looking forward to learning more about the Quaker Youth Pilgrimage on whose committee I have been asked to serve.

The sun has just poked through the clouds, so I may have a chance to explore the lovely grounds here, where trees of all types abound since this place used to be an arboretum.

Such is life here at Pendle Hill, the haven/heaven of Quaker peace activists....

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