Dear Friends near and far,
The weekend of January 27-29 2017, 175 Friends representing 28 meetings gathered at the Pearlstone Center to reflect on the theme of “Quaker Wisdom: Echoes In Our Souls."
Out of gathered silence on Saturday morning, our plenary singer Paulette Meier shared the words of Quaker thinkers, set to music. Paulette reminded us that a deep and thoughtful exploration of Quaker spiritual roots can strengthen us collectively and individually. Particularly resonant this weekend in light of political developments were these words from James Naylor:
"Art thou in darkness?
Mind it not, for if thou dost it will feed thee more.
But stand still, and act not, and wait in patience
Till Light arises out of Darkness and leads thee."
We were grateful for Paulette's strong voice-- and for the chance to add ours when we joined her in song.
As morning workshops began, we gathered to write, celebrate, knit, heal, and process the election. How warm it is to hold the Light to each other when we all need it. We reflected on radical simplicity and how to heal in a post-truth world.
In small groups, in worship sharing, we felt wisdom transfer between the old and the young. It is powerful to be near the deep anchors of our elders, and inspiring to hear wisdom come from the younger members of our body. Many of us turned to the Light and waited faithfully in it. This Experiment with Light drew 90 of us together in a new way.
In the afternoon, workshops continue as a source of thought and reflection. Many Friends joined in worship sharing and discussions about the Women's March on Washington earlier this month, and how Quakers are led to respond and act. Some of us participated in chanting, welcoming the mysteries that opened in our hearts. For those who needed a chance to stretch, walks on the Pearlstone grounds past the pond and signs noting flora and fauna were rejuvenating.
At dinner on Saturday, Young Friends and Young Adult Friends discussed how we can carry these communities with us to our adult years. We marveled at how Friends can learn from each other across age lines, and planted seeds of thought on how to do so more intentionally in the future. our conversation sparked many ideas, including walking worship sharing groups, and Young Friends announced interest in helping plan the next retreat alongside whichever meeting(s) take on planning for next year.
Other groups gathered in the lounges and in front of the fireplace to read books from the book swap and knit pink pussyhats. We were reminded how joyful it can be to gather for the purpose of action when times are uncertain.
After dinner, over 100 women gathered in three circles for Sacred Circle Dancing led by Maggie moon. We danced to great spiritual traditions from around the world and ended with a chant, created by Marcelle Martin and Besty Krome at Pendle Hill: "Abide In Me."
The joy continued in an evening talent show, now called "meeting for Worship with a Concern for Performance." We started laughing and guffawing as the show began. We basked in original song and stories. Friends noted a strong presence of...ukuleles! And as Mary Campbell noted, "You will all be able to get to bed by Quaker midnight."
Amid the levity, we feel a somber tone weigh in on our conversations as a new Administration takes office in D.C. Fatigue and grief mix in with the joy of seeing one another. We are troubled to hear that the "Muslim ban" has become a reality. We each struggle to balance the need for outward action with the need for inward renewal. And we take heart in our unity together as we return to homes and actions led by the Spirit.
In Love and Light,
Baltimore Yearly Meeting Women's Retreat
[Epistle Committee: Young Adult Friend Anna McCormally and Young Adult Friend Johanna Jackson]
Morning and afternoon workshops are being given by Marcelle Martin, the author of the recently published Our Life is Love.
Paulette Meier is joining us this year as our plenary speaker-- and singer!
Her strong alto voice and the music she writes have stirred hearts and opened minds for over 30 years in the pursuit of a peaceful, just and sustainable world.
An active Quaker, Paulette was moved to set quotations from texts of early Quaker leaders to song and record them in chant-like, a cappella style. The resulting CD, Timeless Quaker Wisdom in Plainsong, serves both as an educative tool in the roots of Quaker spirituality and as a meditative focus in spiritual practice.
Her work as a peace educator led to her award winning CD, Come Join the Circle, LessonSongs for Peacemaking, which is used in classrooms and families around the country to inspire children and help them learn the ways of non-violence.