Wednesdays are my Sabbath days. This is a rhythm that learned from my family, that we would practice together. The day of the week changed with the seasons, and sometimes it was just a half day, or a few hours, but we would set aside time to rest. The guiding principle for this day that my parents passed on to me is this: do what brings life.
Today, Wednesdays are an oasis in the middle of my week. I don’t do any work, and the people in my life know that I spend the day resting. Some weeks I come to Sabbath broken and tired, in need of a good night’s sleep and a day in bed. Other days, I arrive energized and have time and peace to create and process. I try not to make too many rules for myself, and abandon the lie of constant productivity.
"We do not want you to copy or imitate us. We want to be like a ship that has crossed the ocean, leaving a wake of foam which soon fades away. We want you to follow the Spirit, which we have sought to follow, but which must be sought anew in every generation." —Extracts from the Writings of Friends, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Faith & Practice
A phrase that keeps coming to mind is "a new Quakerism," and oddly enough, I've been hearing other Friends unknowingly echo this phrase back to me. It seems to me that many Friends, even those who consider themselves "convinced," are hungry for more than what the Society has to offer. We keep coming back to the same point: we desperately need to re-imagine Quakerism.
Charismatic movements throughout Church history have identified water-baptism as a charismatic experience, an awakening or activating experience that stirs up the gift of God within and enables a believer to walk in the power of Christ’s ministry.
Quakerism has never practiced water-baptism. From the beginning, baptism was seen as an inward work of God. Water-baptism was seen as empty ritualism that gave a false sense of spiritual security to those in the corrupt established churches. But even though Friends do not practice water-baptism, the Friends view of baptism shares some dimensions with that of Charismatics.
Isaac Penington wrote, “The promise of receiving the Spirit is upon believing, and it extendeth to every one that believeth. ‘He that believeth on me,’ as the scripture hath said, ‘out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water;’ but this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive…but every one received so much of the Spirit as to make him a son, and to cry Abba, Father, and to wash him.
Not long ago I was wearing an Arab Catholic Scout uniform and marching all over Jerusalem with the Palestinian Christian community to celebrate Palm Sunday.
Between Easter and then I traveled home, contracted a cold virus, spent too many hours awake, and made pilgrimage to Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, for my Easter break traditions with my bestfriend (hi, Hannah, I love you).
I struggle with knowing how to talk about two places that are so diametrically opposed.
I don't know how to be happy in each place when my heart just really wishes a tectonic shift would make Chicago and Bethlehem neighbors. (It would have saved me a couple bucks, too.) Honestly, coming home often feels really empty.
So on Easter, as I put on lipstick and wedges and sang hymns that my Grandma loved; I was also thinking a lot about those I love who celebrate Easter by playing bagpipes and celebrating holy fire miracles and making special cookies. Coming home often feels really empty.
At the Christian college I attended, giving up sugar for Lent (and replacing it with Splenda) was one of the ways we entered into that suffering. Some of us gave up Facebook. One year, I fasted. One year, I took on vegetarianism (something I stuck to for five years). Once, I was almost convinced to give up sarcasm. Almost.
I was choosing suffering in small doses, hoping that the slight ache of missing – sugar, Facebook, hamburgers – might remind me of a greater suffering.
Another way of thinking about Lent is that Jesus submitted himself to this world, and he suffered for it. This means that Lent is a time to remember: life is suffering.