It has been six months since the FWCC World Plenary conference in Peru, with the theme “Living the Transformation.” I have shared this message with my Palo Alto Meeting, College Park Quarterly Meeting and Pacific yearly Meeting and with friends and family. I have also been in coordination with the other two Pacific YM representatives Anthony Manousos and Jan Tunner, as well as others who went as “open delegates,” Sharon Shen of Berkeley and Janet Leslie of Chico. At Quarterly and Pacific Yearly presentations Jim Anderson’s guitar playing skills moved us with songs from our world gathering. I am grateful to all.
Transformation finds us where we do not expect. It happens when we are still. It mostly has a past, present and future.
The fruits of the spirit are love, joy peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith. (Galatians 5:22). These are experienced during transformation.
To be transformed one must go through the process of change.
One speaker at the Peru gathering likened spiritual transformation to a heart transplant. When transformed, we are given the heart of Jesus and so have the ability to live a Christ-like life.
A speaker from Kenya told us a story which indicated that silence played a role in saving lives.
Sometime last year a Muslim extremist group Al Shabab killed 140 Christian students from a university in Northern Kenya. The dead included students from Quaker families. This took place after they had separated the students by asking them which religion they belonged to. They later shot the Christians. Later in the year, the same group stopped a bus full of passengers. During this bus incident, the attackers asked the Muslims to identify themselves and they refused. One passenger said, “Shoot us all or none at all.” The rest were silent. No one was killed
How powerful silence can be! How uniting it can be! and how transforming it can be!
The Peru trip was the second world conference I attended and at both I saw the issue of worshiping in song and worship in silence as a challenge to the participants on either side.
The programmed Quakers learned that there are other Quakers who worship silently. They get a chance to witness and practice and realize, “Aha! We keep talking to God but do not listen to God talking to us and hence we need to be still and listen to God talking to us.” Vice versa, the unprogrammed Friends enjoyed the music but some referred to songs as “noise.” As someone raised among programmed Friends who now worships with unprogrammed Friends, I tell you what you call “noise” is real worship through song. Just listen to the words and you will realize that they are powerful.
World conferences are venues where we are stretched. We are broken open. We learn to appreciate each other, we learn to be patient, we learn to love each other unconditionally. It is a truly transforming experience for those that are ready to go an extra mile. We need to talk to each other, we need to listen to each other, we need to work together with each other. We are all branches of the same tree, the Religious Society of Friends. Like the colors of the rainbow, we are different but together we can shine and illuminate the world.
The care for our Mother Earth came up again in this world gathering of Quakers and action was called for to sustain our earth. We have to work together to save the earth. Since Quaker gatherings involve travelling which takes a toll on our environment, it was proposed we meet after a longer period of time. We therefore will need to be in touch with each other in other ways so FWCC Travelling Ministry Corp will train ministers to reach out to Friends around the world. Those called to the travelling ministry can visit FWCC website for detailed. Applications are being accepted and the deadline will be September 30.
The experience of sharing with Friends in Peru widened my network of Friends. My spiritual pool is refreshed and nourished. Having been born and brought up as an Evangelical Quaker and having been introduced to unprogrammed meeting in my long stay in the United States, I feel truly blessed that I can relate to both cultures and practices. I feel like a child of two worlds.
Looking at my life eight years ago when I was faced with life challenges I am so thankful that I now feel at peace. I experience and try to offer unconditional love and try to really “live the transformation.” I am very grateful to the Palo Alto Meeting that has seen me through my tough times, to the Pacific yearly Meeting for sending me to the World conferences and to the Quaker community at large.
Be blessed to bless.