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.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

To Be Frith and Friends

Frith back on the shelf

This week I was cleaning my wee Trawler model, Frith. Oh, decades ago, I wanted to name a daughter Frith, Genie hated the name, and we never had kids anyway, so the name was carved onto the headboards of the Lowestoff Trawler I built in my second year of law school, to be sailed in Central Park... back before things got busy and I stopped hauling my boats up to that place.

I was thinking about the many concepts we seem to be loosing as our culture slips, as has been the pattern of all human cultures, from the complex to the simple. As we loose words we loose depth in linguistic concept. One root of our word Friend, dear fellow Quakers, is Frith.
By the alter in churches in the middle ages, was often found the Frithstool. A place of sanctuary for those in peril. What a dear idea, that we should be a sanctuary to each other.

The word Freedom, often found in the early expressions of our faith, also derives from Frith. Friends were advised to hold fast to our liberty. In order to be present to God, we needed to be free of the restraints of tyranny. We needed to put idols behind us, to not be distracted from God in each other -- for the sake of liberty, freedom.

A Frith was also a wooded enclosure, the opposite of a Fell... a refugee, as well as a narrow arm of the sea, as in the Frith of Forth. There is a sense of embracing in this use of the word.
Well, it is so late it has become early. So, I will leave thee with this small addition to the sense of the word Friend.


At 8:21 AM, Blogger ash said...

I'm very glad you've written this... All my OED disc says is:
'Frith- varient of FIRTH' then
'Firth- 1) a narrow inlet of the sea 2) an estury. [Middle English (originally Scots) from Old Norse fjörthr FJORD]

I love words :o) thanks,

At 5:45 PM, Blogger jez said...

more on those words:

The Firth of Forth is one of those Scottish phrases/words that provides delight to me, much as the famous dream scoreline in a football match

East Fife 5 Forfar 4 (see for example
wledge/story/0,13854,1485832,00.html in the archive section)

At 7:05 PM, Blogger Lorcan said...

I am bummed out, Jez... the link wont open for me, over at the Guardian... och, ah, weal...

At 10:39 PM, Blogger Laurie Kruczek said...

Dear Friend Lorcan,

Firstly, your Frith trawler is stunning! It must look lovely in the water, bobbing about. Maybe this spring you may find a relaxing day to sail her again. If so, will thee post a pic?

Secondly, all those Friends-a-blogging are my Frithstool, tis true. Great word!

Laurie (aka Laur)
which is interesting as I see you are also called Lor.

At 10:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Lor, she's exquisite, and from my coast too! There is a beautiful old wreck in my beloved Tollesbury creek in Essex, England, called the Pilot Jack, and she is a Lowestoft Drifter, sad and forlorn nowm but still shows her beautiful bone structure. Incidentally, for you Statesiders, if you want to pass yourselves off as a local in Lowestoft, the phonetic pronunciation is Loose-toft! Greg

At 10:49 AM, Blogger Lorcan said...

Hi Greg! I'd love to see her, one day before she is gone to the sands... it does not look like I will soon be wandering out tha way, so, if you are by Tollesbury Creek, do snap a photo!

All the best, friend


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