It has been six months since the Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) World Plenary conference in Peru with the theme “Living the Transformation.” I have experienced that transformation.
I have learned that transformation surprises us. It happens when we are still.
The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—all of which can be experienced during transformation.
To be transformed, one must go through a process of change.
At this year’s conference, a speaker from Kenya told us a story about a time when silence played a role in saving lives.
A militant group al-Shabaab killed 140 Christian students from a university in Northern Kenya. The dead included students from Quaker families. This took place after members of the group had separated the students by religion. They shot the Christians. Later in that year, the same group stopped a bus full of passengers. The attackers asked the Muslims to identify themselves, but one passenger responded, “Shoot us all or none at all.” The rest were silent. No one was killed
How powerful silence can be! How uniting it can be! And how transforming it can be!
This was my second world conference, and at both, I saw that worshiping in song was a challenge to some while worshiping in silence was a challenge to others.
The programmed Quakers learned that there are other Quakers who worship silently. They witnessed and practiced and realized, “We keep talking to God, but we do not listen. We need to be still and to listen.” The unprogrammed Friends enjoyed the music but some referred to songs as “noise.” What they call “noise” is made up of words, powerful words. We also must listen.
It is in gatherings such as these that we learn to appreciate each other, to be patient with one another, to love each other. It is a truly transforming experience. We need to talk to each other, we need to listen to each other, we need to work together. We are different, but together we might shine in the world. And the world might be transformed.
The experience of sharing with Friends in Peru widened my network of Friends. I am refreshed. Having been born and brought up as an Evangelical Quaker and having been introduced to unprogrammed Friends, I feel blessed to be able to relate to both cultures and practices. I feel like a child of two worlds.
And I want to really “live the transformation.” Because transformation isn’t just something that has happened. Transformation has a past, a present, and a future. I am experiencing this transformation.