Below are the links to the audio from Jeff Dudiak’s Quaker Bible Study from Canadian Yearly Meeting annual gathering in 2012.
George Fox and other early Friends “opened up” the Christianity of their day in an ambiguous way. Was their revelation a renewal of something old or the introduction of something new, a deepening or a departing? The tensions among our current, diverse “branches” of Friends hang, to some large degree, on which interpretation we prefer. But is this a forced, and false, choice? These studies are an attempt to trace out a dynamic that runs through the Bible to earlier Friends and into our own times that, far from trying to resolve this tension, requires it as essential to the “radicalizing spirit” that is Quakerism at its best.
Here are the five lectures. Click to play, or right-click and save file as… to save to your computer.
I notice that, as I write about Sunday at CYM this year, it is already Tuesday morning. As can be common at CYM, reconnecting with f/Friends, events, new reasons to meet for conversation begin to fill the time available, and I’m reminded of the caution that we don’t have to do everything while we’re here, that choices for self-care will be important. I’m grateful that I rose early this morning and have some quiet time to write – we were warned yesterday that the water in the residence building will be shut off from 7:00 – 8:00 am, so an early shower seemed advisable.
Sunday morning, I was blessed to be able to be with those who are at CYM in session for the first time. I felt grateful too, for those seasoned Friends who showed up to sit with us. More hearts and minds to answer questions…more faces to be familiar, more Friends to connect with during the rest of the week. In addition to answering ‘burning questions’ that first-timers offered, we spent some time untangling the sometimes confusing web that is CYM. It was the first chance I had to try out a ‘big picture’ I’ve been working with. (You can check it out here for yourself)
Later that morning, when we all gathered for the first time in Worship, and I settled in, calling up images of those Friends who are not here this year, I was aware again of the capacity we now have to share this week with Friends across Canada through the ‘interwebs’. I’m looking forward to the quiet times when I’ll be able to do this with words, photos, and perhaps video, and in offering Friends elsewhere this glimpse, I feel closer to them…to you.
During Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business when, as is our custom through Quaker history, we heard of births, marriages, deaths, new members, – I noticed how long was the list of those who had died and was again aware that our numbers are not growing and that we are an aging community. I trust that the energy of the young adult Friends and young Friends who are here this week will nudge, prod and encourage us all , as we experience again that intense week that is CYM in session – so many possibilities for Spirit to move among us.
You can find some of Bruce Dienes’ first photos of the week here.
As more and more Friends arrived, we gathered on Saturday evening and were welcomed to Quaker Stew. Grouping ourselves by region we were invited to gather the ‘ingredients’ that make our region unique – those gifts that make us the peculiar Atlantic, Central, Prairie and BC Quakers that we are. Once we identified them, each region in turn created an organic ‘contraption’ (mix) which represented their ingredients, naming them and adding them one by one.
BC brought balancing, prison work (AVP), a home for retiring Friends, environmental concerns and activism (Greenpeace), Vibrant WHYM, young Friends to CYM, multigenerational Quaker families, Argenta Quaker traditions, being open to new paths
BC Stew Ingredients
Atlantic Friends (though few) brought travel over great distances (prairie Friends laughed), closeness by land and by sea, multi-generational Quaker families, a strong sense of community, environmental concerns, opportunities to live simply.
Atlantic Stew Ingredients
Central Canadian Friends brought bilingualism, Quaker history, Rogers $$$$, Quaker input into many peace and justice groups, Camp NeeKauNis, CFSC and CYM offices, Quaker burial grounds, the archives, old Meeting Houses, Quaker Book Service, arts and music support, Friends House
Central (Ontario and Quebec) Stew Ingredients
The Prairies brought travel over really great distances, creativity and the arts, radical views and actions, more land area per Qapita, resilience, invisible Quakers, and resurrection (meetings have come and gone and come again)…and Tom Findley!!
Prairie Stew Ingredients
When the ingredients were assembled, we opened the windows for some perceptions that Friends have of other regions. What is appreciated…what puzzles are there? Friends were encouraged to be brief, tender and respectful. It was a gift to see ourselves as others see us
Finally we were ready to add the spices, as some of the elements that bring us all together. The testimonies were ‘posted’ around the room. We were invited to move, in silence to the one that was most unifying for us right now. As you can see, Friends took some time to discern and still didn’t always find clearness.
Discerning the Testimonies
Once gathered, in small groups, we created a tableau (drama ‘still life’) that represented for us that testimony.
And finally, we were invited to turn to another person there and offer them a blessing or a wish for our coming time in community before heading off for the evening’s refreshments. Thank you, Friends!!!!
Margaret Slavin arrived early for the pre-gathering retreat after many tiring hours of travel. Over lunch on Sunday, she shared with me reflections on her experience of the silent retreat:
“To be plunged into profound silence became quickly very challenging. There was little instruction, but some excellent quotations provided. They underlined for me that this is the core of the Quaker experience – just plunge into it.
I came away with the reminder that there is a silent place beyond what you think is your silent space. It was also a reminder that it isn’t necessarily a comfortable place.
I’ve had the experience before where, when I slowed down, lots of creativity bubbled up, an idea for a poem or a story – and I thought that was great. Instead this time, I felt just emptiness. I realized I was much more tired than I had thought or felt I was, and others said the same thing. I did sleep then, for a long time.
I wonder how often we are overriding our true leading, if we’re not taking care of ourselves, we wind up not being able to respond to leadings.
The task we were given was profoundly counter-intuitive. We were asked to be silent, though Friends we hadn’t seen for a long time were arriving from all over the country. What was in my heart was different that what I was being asked to do. This has not been my usual experience with Friends. Usually they flow together – the heart and the task. It was suggested that it was OK for us to talk with others, only if we could say that which would deepen the silence.
I understood that we were being reminded of an essential Quaker discipline and I did get reminded of that, and that’s good.
This challenge made me aware that I had nothing to say that would deepen the silence. I was feeling alarmed and empty towards the end. I had nothing to say. The bare table in front of us seemed to represent that emptiness. I needed an image. I took my blue scarf, wound it around two bright red copies of Advices and Queries, added some dried, curled up leaves and a dried rose I had found in with the leaves.
When I sat again and looked at it, the rose stood out for me. It had been discarded where I found it, not in its natural setting. Looking at it, I knew that Spirit for me manifests most unmistakably in my relationship to people. I needed the image to see that.”