Discipline thy self to courage, because it takes great courage to turn from sin.
Sin. You don't often hear a Friend speak of sin. What is sin to a Quaker. Well, I have learned from the few times we have spoken the word, it is to turn away from unity. We see that so often in business meetings. Friends need their narrative of life so strongly that they break the unity in so many ways. I takes courage to look deep inside and find that truth, deep truth within.
Where to begin to find courage and why. Have I written here about the Lacota friend of mine, Steve King, the grand son of Matt King, the translator for Black Elk, the famous Lacota pipe carrier, about the night he explained the universe of a Lacota? Well, if I did, forgive me to restate it. To understand the why of courage, thee must know the why of the world a little.
We were sitting by a fire, on a reservation in western CT. Steve drew a ring for me in the earth.
"This is the circle of the self. It must be whole and unbroken, balanced. If it is..."
he drew another circle...
"it wont break the circle of the family..."
"the centered family centers the tribe"
another, the nation of humans, then the nations of animals, then the nation of living things, then the nation of things, rocks and earth, water, the whole of the earth, the universe beyond.
He broke the first circle then the rest... the broken family breaks the tribe which breaks the nation of men, you waist animals, kill all the wolves, too many deer, they destroy trees, erosion, rocks break... the universe is set off center.
Damn, but that is a good way to speak of sin. Not the sin of breast beating and pain, the sin which is healed by looking within and healing, because thy unbalance breaks the family, thy family, and that broken family breaks the meeting, the tribe, the world eventually.
Courage to so many things, truth.
What is truth what is lie?
There are no liars among Friends. When we stray from the truth, we are not the lie, we are the perfection within, yet we must seek to return to that place.
When I was younger, and I try not to do this today, I lived my stories. These stories took on a life of their own and I had to fit my reality to the stories I lived. People could become objects in my story. When they fit, it was good, when they did not, it was the beginning of a break in the circle.
Stories are not always lies. They can come from the best sources. We Friends often caution each other not to read too much philosophy, especially older Friends used to tell me this. Why? Because we are anti intellectual? No, because we don't learn our faith like a catechism. Other people's words can contain great truth, but when we take them into our hearts and make the story, they lead us away from OUR truth. I have seen members of Ministry and Worship pass out endless tracts with quotes from the past to heal our meeting, when all they needed to do was look inside, and find the courage to love and speak directly the truth. That truth is described in books, but is found in the heart. Maybe we should read, a little and seek a lot... listen to the voice within that dwells in love.
Without courage all, all, all is fear. Fear of what if the people around us don't fit our narrative. We try to change the narrative, fix the past to fit our present to gain our future. Fear keeps us from that perfect love which is open and free.
Anger follows fear. So often, I see anger, pain, hardness flow from fear. We Quakers need to regain the gentleness with which we love each other to heal our meetings and our families. It takes courage to put anger aside. When we do we fly.
Next to her death bed, my dear friend Sally Scott jotted down the poem by Apolinare (excuse the spelling) and the following is from memory so my apologies to the poet.
You said come to the edge
I said I am frightened
You said come to the edge
I can't I said I am frightened
I came to the edge and you pushed me
and I flew.