Saturday, March 02, 2013

Listening to the Light

Quakers are often thought of as being a withdrawn or closed group of people. Some even think that we have died out. We haven’t. We are still here, and still leavening the world around us...
Quakerism is a part of the European Christian mystical tradition which combines spirituality with the practical life, and its particular insights give it a universal appeal with is particularly relevant to today’s world. As a specific movement it started around the mid-seventeenth century. It arose out of the searching by many people for a religious voice that was true to the Holy Spirit... The famous Quaker historian, Rufus Jones, has shown that Quakerism was a part of the stream of mysticism which started with Dionysius and included Jacob Boehme, St Francis of Assisi, Meister Eckhart and the Friends of God... In reality, the founder of the Quaker movement was - and is, for it has to be discovered anew in each generation—the Holy Spirit...
Light is a very important Universal symbol. It is not limited to Quakers, but we use it in a very specific way, as another name for Christ, the divine within all creation... Sometimes the light is seen as a peaceful symbol, gently showing the way ahead, or filling us with wisdom and healing, and sometimes it is the fire which burns up all the old self, to allow the Divine to manifest... 
Jim Pym, Listening to the Light
Light. It was my very first experience of Christ, when I sat down in an old ruined walled garden at the age of 31, and at last admitted that I was to be a Christian. It is still my experience of him—at times an almost physical light, beating through my closed eyes like sudden sunlight, a totally real and immediate experience of what Paul wrote in Romans 8.9, “you... are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.”

There is an old Quaker phrase, itself borrowed from the Collegiant Will Ames, “Mind the Light.” It has come to have an increasing resonance for me. It means, of course, to turn one’s mind to the light, and not to what it may (spiritually) illuminate—but is also means “look out for the light!”—for that light will burn, and it is hard sometimes to sit still under it, as I now know to my (actually blessed) cost!

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