Plain in the city

A plain Quaker folk singer with a Juris Doctorate in his back pocket, salt in his blood, and a set of currach oars in the closet, Ulleann Pipes under his arm, guitar on his back, Anglo Irish baggage, wandering through New York City ... in constant amaze. Statement of Faithfulness. As a member of the Quaker Bloggers Ad Hoc Committee I affirm that I will be faithful to the Book of Discipline of my Meeting 15th Street Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.

Monday, February 28, 2005

To find a discipline to stillness...

To find a discipline to stillness...

Sometimes dear Friend Carol.
Sometimes I find stillness through grace alone.
Sometimes God does not teach with a gentle hand.
I pray that God brings thee stillness, and stillness to all.
I was given other messages this week, one about stillness, the other about why stillness does not come easy to some.

If thee knows me, thee knows I was a sailor under sail more than power. So the metaphors of my life often come easy in terms of sailing and the sea. I often heard older sailors say that it is best to over ballast than to under ballast. The ship of my life has been ballasted very deeply. So deeply that at times I see only the rocks and sand, and not the small jewels brought aboard when I was not watching well.

What much of that ballast is, is personal and private. If thee knows me, feel free to ask in person if it helps thee to find light. I will tell thee that I did not take on this ballast by choice. Before I could reason, I was beaten, and suffered other terrible abuse. By grace I was sent a friend, a tutor who told me that I was not the cause of my abuse, the abuser was. So, as a young Friend, even before my convincement at eleven, I came to understand if not to fully know, that we are not what happens to us. If the worst happens to us, we are not that thing, if we do the worst we are not that thing. As for my abuser, Friends would not say this person is a rapist, but would say this person has raped. As such, I was able to forgive deeply in my soul. I did not become a victim. I became one to whom terrible things happened.

Inside we remain untouched and perfect.

But dear Friend, I am like thee, like all, open to the strife and struggle of life. I come up on rocks, other hurt friends, our hurts can open wounds in each other, and we are taught again, not by a gentle hand of God, but taught by the God of storms and volcanoes. Sure I would choose to be taught gently, God never intended that for me. I am often taught by fire and sharp rocks. I pray to be taught by the kind gentle hand of God... but, that hand is yet to come to me.

This year, among many huge rocks I have taken aboard as ballast, I have had to face the possibility that another piece of heavy weight has been snugged into the hold of my life's ship.

I had an extensive operation, just next to my vocal cords... and I am going through tests to see if my present throat problems are the return of the problem God graced me with before. Grace, yes, because we are sometimes taught with awful pain. Pain reminds us to take our hand out of the fire. One of these tests caused me mortal fear, and I am not ashamed to say, the lessons of that test came with tears and horror.

But thee likely missed messages I gave on stillness in this storm, only a small part I have shared with thee. As I was flayed and every nerve laid raw, stillness also came. At 9:30, I gave such a message.

It comes of a true story from New York Harbor, which in my pain and challenge, I remembered and saw as a metaphor for God's grace.

Look past the messenger, past the light even. That light within is not God in full. God in full is beyond our greatest dream. God is not the light, but the harbor.

Before the turn of the old century, my dear Friends, and dear dear Carol, on Robbins Reef, that rock thee sees as the comes near to Staten Island from Manhattan, towards New Jersey there was a couple who tended the Robbins' Reef Light.

The husband died, and Kitty, his wife. went on, tending the light. On several occasions, in the teeth of a storm, she lowered her boat into dangerous waters to save mariners clinging to the rocks of Robbins Reef. Her bravery renamed the light, Kitty's Light.

A wee song from me to the light house keeper, and the harbor that gives her to us.

Kitty's Light.

I was alone in the water, the blackness all around,
I could not find dry land, till thy beacon I found
It sprang forth from thy tower, and shattered the night
And I swam towards the warmth of thy soul saving light

Chorus: Oh I know thee is faithful, n' er yealding to fright
As thee tends to thy beacon, my Kitty o' the light.

As I cling to the sharp rocks, waves break o'er me...
so many of my ship mates are lost in the sea
but I can see thy shadow, as thee climbs to the light
and I know thee will find me as thee watches in the night

Every inch of my being, on this reef has been flayed
Each hope in my bosom, the seas torment has now frayed
Still I call out thy name, though I know thee can't hear,
Oh kitty launch thy small boat, oh kitty come near

My voice weak from salt water, my soul nearly fled
the hands that still anchor me, are but dead things of lead
But I know thee will look down, from thy tower above
And save this poor mariner, dear angel sweet dove

Now my body is slipping, deeper into the wave
My blood streams down the rocks, there's but little left to save
But I feel thy strong hands as thee lifts me from my fate
Oh Kitty, my dear Kitty, I knew thee'd not come late

When life's troubles engulf me, and my voyage seems unfair
I look to thy light house, and picture thee there
Oh Kitty, dear Kitty, thy strength and God's might
Will ever burn brightly, my Kitty in thy light
Will e' re sooth my heart break, my Kitty o' the light

(Kitty's verse)
Don't look to the light keeper, or focus on the light
I but point to a safer channel in the dark of thy night
When adrift on dark waters, and thy hopes all take flight
I but point to the harbor, thy Kitty of the light.

Slan a chara,
sin e

is mise



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