To contact the Newsletter Team please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
In October 2022, the Newsletter turns its attention to our Quaker community. As in all human groups, individuals disagree. And yet the essential Quaker experience of the divine filters through to each one of us in our worship groups. Here, we explore the experience of Friendship in our meeting, our commitment to deepen our connection to one another in the Light.
We are All Here by David Millar
Come regularly to meeting for worship even when you are angry, depressed, tired or spiritually cold. In the silence ask for and accept the prayerful support of others joined with you in worship. Try to find a spiritual wholeness which encompasses suffering as well as thankfulness and joy. Prayer, springing from a deep place in the heart, may bring healing and unity as nothing else can. Let meeting for worship nourish your whole life.
Advices and Queries UK, 10
Where is the Spirit Taking our Meeting?
By Janette Fraser, co-clerk of MMM
One Way or Another, photo by David Millar
At our most recent Meeting for Worship for Business in September, Friends decided to set aside the regular agenda of our next Meeting for Worship for Business on October 30. Instead, we will devote this time to discernment on the spiritual growth of our Meeting. We will consider what we want from our Meeting and what we can give to it.
This decision was taken after lengthy discernment sparked by the Nominating Committee’s difficulty in finding friends willing to take on roles in our Meeting. We were led us consider how our Meeting could encourage the Spirit to grow. Some concern was also expressed about divisions among us arising from the hybrid experience on Zoom and in presence.
In the Religious Society of Friends we are all equal. Roles are held for a limited period of time. We all have a responsibility to offer the service we are able to offer knowing that we are supported by the Meeting and that it is for a limited time.
I encourage all who have any interest in our Meeting to join in this consideration. It is OUR Meeting. We should be thinking about what we can bring to it. I pose the following questions to ponder on.
- What does the Spirit want from our Meeting?
- What do we want from our Meeting?
- How is the Spirit leading us into the future?
- How do we build community?
- Do I see MMM as MY meeting?
- If I see some action by my Meeting as important and necessary, what participation do I offer?
- Am I willing to lead it?
Concern has been expressed by one Friend that we keep future generations in mind as we build our present community. This attention to the future may affect our decisions, perspectives and commitments.
These are just some pointers for starting this consideration. You may have other things you would like talked about. If so please feel free to share them with co-clerks at email@example.com (Janette Fraser) and firstname.lastname@example.org (Jean-Louis Demers); or with Michael Pedruski, clerk to M&C, at email@example.com , before 30th October. If you are unable to join us on that day please send your ideas.
Quaker Visits from Kenya and New Hampshire
Quakers Judith Nandikove of Global Ministries in Kenya and Marian Baker of New Hampshire came to meet Congolese Quaker groups in Quebec in July. They took time out to meet with a few members of Montreal Meeting as well.
In a backyard discussion hosted by Claire Adamson in Montreal, Marian and Judith spoke about their efforts in Kenya to promote girls’ education, affordable housing, and the development of women’s leadership. In Kenya, a widow needs a special will to inherit her husband's estate in the event of his death. Judith and co-workers encourage women to consider such issues in their marriages, in order to secure the financial future of themselves and their children. Agricultural issues are discussed too. Kenyan women learn to store flood and rainwater for times of drought. Since gas costs $30 a gallon, they learn to use manure as fuel. Given the cost of travel, producing food locally is vital and women play a huge role in this process. In Kenya, going back to the farm is actually going forward. For more information, Judith's website is http://www.judynandikoveglobalministries.org/
Marian Baker, also known as the “Quaker Bonnet Lady,” has devoted her life to the wellbeing of African women. Besides her frequent visits to Kenya over decades, her activity at home reflects her Quaker values. Her home town in New Hampshire produces a re-enactment of a military event in the Civil War every year. Marian’s contribution to this event reflects Quaker pacifism. She has organized a comic book workshop based on a diary of a local soldier in the Civil War. Through this perspective, “glorious” battles take the background; the monotony of waiting and eating bad food seems to more accurately reflect the experience of war. Other activities organized by Marian focus on the Underground Railroad, stories by workers on the railroad and local mills, and Abenaki Indigenous history.
Thanks to these two remarkable women for their inspirational visit.
As well, thanks to Claire Adamson for her report and hospitality.
Visitors from Nova Scotia and Montreal
From left to right: Marilyn Manzer, Jean-Louis Demers, Wendy Sturton, Clara Grouazel, David Millar, Geoffreyjen Edwards. Absent in the photo but present in the Meeting: Sébastien Garant and Véronique Davisseau.
On October 2, our small Quaker group in Lévis was visited by Marilyn Manzer, clerk of Canadian Yearly Meeting. She was accompanied by Wendy Sturton and David Millar from Montreal Monthly Meeting, to which we are affiliated.
This meeting was most enjoyable. After initial words of welcome, we had the opportunity to introduce ourselves to each other in more depth. Then, Marilyn explained Canadian Yearly Meeting, an institution many of us knew very little about. She also took the time to listen to the hopes and aspirations of our small group, the only francophone Quaker group in Canada.
Personally, I was happy to note in Marilyn the same welcome, support and friendship offered to us by members of Montreal Monthly Meeting. The additional presence of David and Wendy was very important to us, just as the visit a few months ago by Michael, Wendy, Victoria and David Summerhays. Marilyn’s visit meant a lot to us: it gave us recognition and encouragement from Canadian Yearly Meeting to join with them in divine Light, and to carry out works inspired in us by this light. For a small group like ours (which includes monthly Zoom participation by some very special people in distant locations), this recognition and encouragement were extremely important.
A warm thanks to Marilyn, Wendy and David for their company on October 2!
The Quaker meeting allows me to share in a deep spiritual connection without unnecessary trappings and the Quaker community allows me to share in trying to make things better without hurting others.
Quaker Community Past, Present, All Around
Last summer Leigh Smit spent time at the Quaker family Camp NeeKauNis on Sturgeon Bay with her uncle and cousin, revisiting this important place in her father’s past. She recounts her powerful connection to Quaker Community through this experience below.
I sat at the top of the meeting hill, on one of the wooden benches. I ran my fingertips gently across its surface, focusing on my sense of the quality of the wood and the labour put into it, and I realized that the bench had been made with me and my experience of this exact moment in mind. I’m not sure how long that bench had been waiting for me to enjoy it, but I figure it must have been quite a long time. I wondered who else it had waited for. I felt great satisfaction in knowing it would continue to exist and wait for whoever else was intended for. I sat on this bench, I meditated, I worshiped. I felt overwhelming peace, more than I ever had. This feeling brought with it some understanding that I now had a responsibility to this place and to the people who keep it. My experience here led me to decide that I ought to apply for a clearness committee to decide on membership. Here I saw Quaker life and community in action, and everything I felt here made me want to learn to act in the same way.
In the building behind me, I found pictures of my young father. I wondered if he had sat in the same spot before me and what wisdom he might have acquired there, and I imagined hundreds before us and hundreds after sitting in worship. I hypothesized, at the very least, we’d walked on at least one shared path. It was a gift to be able to share something with my ancestors in a way that made me feel as though I am still in direct contact with them. When I came, I was with my cousin Julianne and my uncle Jack. What a joy to see Jack in his element! It was the first time I’d been on a trip with them. At the time I felt very blessed to be in this space with them.
Although I had met the Friends who were present for the first time at camp, it felt like I’d known everyone for a long time. I was met with unconditional friendliness by everyone there. The atmosphere Friends provided made me feel as though I could walk with ease and sit silently (outside of worship) near them. In other words, Friends themselves were themselves the peacefulness that I could gently abide in. On the other hand, they indulged me when I wanted to hear more about them. I was in awe of the deep sense of service in underlying Friend’s life and work. “I want to be just like them when I grow up,” is more or less what I decided.
We stood together for worship, holding hands, before some of the meals. We did dishes for each other (and no one was upset when I forgot it was my time to do them!), we ate meals together. At one lunch, a lively red squirrel decided he’d like to join us, jumping up and then jumping down from beside various people… I had the impression he was looking for the ideal companion to sit by (alas, he never settled and eventually left). We discussed careers, sensitive topics, the beauty of the nature around us, and the awesome deserts. People told stories, and laughed and cried. Some people sang about aardvarks and others about lonely volcanos. No matter what we did at camp, it was all for the benefit of each other.
To learn more about the camp visit https://www.neekaunis.org
Botanical Garden Walk by Janette Fraser
Gardens Group by Janette Fraser
Almost every Friday a group of Friends, of varying number, meet at Montreal Botanical Gardens for a gentle walk. Some of us have done this throughout the year regardless of the weather, although the heat has beaten us on some occasions. Here are a few pictures of what we have watched happening.
Anyone is welcome to join us. We normally meet at either 10.30 or 11 o’clock. Sometimes people arrive at varying times and make contact on arrival and then meet up. It is a very flexible arrangement but seems to work and we enjoy socializing and getting to know each other better. In the good weather we tend to bring a picnic lunch. We have made use of the restaurant sometimes. As I say, a very flexible arrangement.
If you are interested in joining us, as a one off or on a more permanent basis, get in touch with
Kristin – firstname.lastname@example.org
Janette - email@example.com
Or anyone in the photo if you recognize us!
The Quaker community has become family to me, in the best sense of the word. When struggling with life’s deepest difficulties, it is to Friends I turn, knowing that their care is steady and their advice will be heartfelt and anchored in Spirit. As the saying goes, “You can’t choose your family: thank God for your [F]riends.”
From left to right: Marius, Guillaume and Céline from l’Assemblée de Nantes followed by Geoffreyjen, Sébastien, Jean-Louis and Elaine. Absent: Cassandre de l’Assemblée de Nantes.
This summer our small worship group at Lévis was delighted to welcome a young Quaker family from Nantes. During their trip to Québec they acted on a friendly impulse to take part in our worship at Café La Mosaïque. This was a beautiful moment for us. Silence, conversation and a shared meal forged a friendship which we hope could be extended to the “twinning” of our two meetings. More to follow…
I don't know why I'm doing this. One morning after rising, waking up in this unfamiliar city, in the silence of the hot morning, one thing becomes obvious: I must organize a Meeting of friends here in Lyon. Not in my living room, not on zoom. In a specific room, to rally isolated friends and have a place of shared silence, waiting patiently.
I'm almost a Quaker. I have never taken the step of becoming a member, simply because for the few years that I have been practicing, I have a certainty that one is in the process of becoming a Quaker all one’s life, and that fixing my identity as a Quaker would definitively close the openness to all that is possible, an openness dear to George Fox – an openness that has attracted me all these years in contact with friends.
Because it was in silence and open practice that I discovered the grace and friendship of my friends in Montreal. Our private lives barely mixed, our characters or our lifestyles never similar. An outpouring of the spirit, which infused an effortless encounter with its presence. Every week, learning by looking and posture, making the gesture that reveals. The intimacy of a group, in a common, gentle and generous faith.
I wanted to feel all that. Off camera. In space. In breathing distance. Against a background of external sounds, with all the small phenomena of unfolded living. So on a whim: find a place to assemble Quakers here. Lyon is a spiritual, mystical city, a pinnacle of the invisible in Europe that rivals Prague in the spiritual domain. A city besieged by a struggle for freedom, where fascism and Christian dogmas impose themselves without nuances.
I didn't know how to do it but it seems to me I was guided. I wrote letters to centers to find a room - hopeless. These letters were very serious - I had the impression I was speaking on behalf of the friends, without really knowing what it meant, or how to say it - i learnt in the process of being much more discrete. I recalled the books I had read, the moments shared in silence, the gathered meetings, all the vocal ministry and the processes of business meetings. Simple letters, in which I revealed, I think, a determination I did not know I had.
And one day an answer came. Positive. A proposal to come look at a meeting room. They asked me about the statutes of the Quaker association. I realized that I was actually going through with it, without actually knowing anything at all about procedures. And I had forewarned only the Montreal Meeting, no one here in France. I sat down and waited, a few days. Time to discern. To understand. To feel. Because I can think when I feel. Am I legitimate? In the inner light, is there an echo of my illusions, of my pretensions? Is this sincerity still full of ego?
The answer came simply. This Sunday: a list of contacts in Occitania, a random name chosen for a first step. A telephone discussion with England. Reaching the right person: copied in the email, friends from France and contacts at the French Meeting. Everything progressed in 24 hours. Scattered friends met and encouraged. A zoom meeting in the sun, where I discover new faces. Tender people. And now, in my hands, the choice to take this decisive last step, to gather friends and to be silent. And to let the Spirit do the rest.
The Quaker community is a source of inspiration for me. I admire this community for its philosophy, values and activism. I love the universailty of the message telling us about “that of God in everyone.” As well, I like the silent worship which allows a group to sense the Light together (although this experience has not happened to me in a group.) I like the variety of people and openness to various religious currents and beliefs. I cherish the integrity and kindness of Quakers. I like their involvement in various issues where people are suffering, and their commitment to the establishment and maintenance of peace. All these values are dear to me, and inspire me.
My father-in-law and I on his arrival in an interim residence.
Recently, my partner and I (she, especially) have been deeply involved in the placement of her father who, after a fall, is no longer able to maintain his apartment. This is a terribly difficult stage of life for him. To support him, she and her sister have strayed into the administrative labyrinth around the system of aid and housing for seniors who have lost their autonomy. Fans might relate our struggles to the search of Astérix for the A-38 permit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TM9xZSJO4is
I ask myself the question: What happens to those without family, without friends, without a supportive community? Hopeless drifting, and ultimately, negligence, likely await them. This question brought home to me the extent to which community support is essential, whether it be familial, spiritual, social or even completely informal. Community is all that is left when it’s time to let go of it all.
How Can We Sing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land?
Under the Wings Climate March 2022 by David Millar
In recent weeks I have visited Quaker meetings in four different locations, in three different languages and cultures. I have heard “the singing of the Lord’s song” in English, French and Swahili; in silence; and in dance and in song. In Quebec City we gathered in a small room imperfectly sound-proofed from a larger café, where a children’s book launch was happily and noisily underway; a small room which was also the only passage to the toilet and cloakroom, therefore vulnerable to many knocks, apologies and transits! And yet, our worship was silent and deeply connected. In Ottawa we gathered in the formality of a room at Friends House, where silence and vocal ministry were ordered and inspired. In Lachine we gathered in the basement of a Catholic Church, with cavernous empty rooms on either side of us, in a brightly lit room filled with the joyous music, preaching, and dance of multi-generational Congolese Quakers. Finally, I worshiped in the familiar gathering of my own Meeting, muffled by the electronic box which is Zoom, but with joy at seeing beloved faces.
What do these Quaker communities have in common? What is identifiably Quaker in all this silence, discernment, questioning, singing, and dancing? There were many obvious differences of opinion and process in these various groups. We live in a splintered, polarized world.
This is what I saw. In each of these places Quakers centred themselves in their communities and sought the Spirit together. In the Religious Society of Friends, we reach towards the Light together and listen for the revelations that come with that search. Too often humans band together in desperation, for self-defence or to prepare our aggressions against one another. The Quaker gathering brings openness, acceptance, gentleness, humility, insight, love, and the desire to listen to one another on our spiritual journeys. Whatever the future holds for Quakers, may this divine friendship remain.
“Âmes animales”, José Rodrigues dos Santos, 2022, Éditions Hervé Chopin
Lisbon. A scientist is found dead, floating in the orca tank of the Oceanário. Everything seems to incriminate Maria Flor, who was working on a secret project with her husband, Tomás Noronha, a renowned specialist in animal intelligence.
To prove the innocence of his wife, the famous cryptologist will have to uncover the true perpetrator of the crime. In the process, he is confronted with the interests of an ancient brotherhood from the past and with one of nature's most mysterious secrets: the intelligence, emotions, and consciousness of animals.
HC Éditions (publicity extract)
Review by Jean-Michel Pionetti
A before and an after. Before, if I was a little aware of it, I didn't really care. After...
My mind changed after reading Âmes animales, a thriller written by one of the masters of the genre, a novel that places its plot at the heart of the animal world. The novel endows animals with intelligence, sensitivity and profound consciousness, attributes that have long remained if not entirely unknown to us, at least very tentative.
Similarly, not so long ago, for both individual and collective and health reasons, evidence gathered against the unhealthy, even deadly effects of tobacco use; but only gradually did mobilization against it gather strength as a real social issue.
Âmes animales, in its real-world application, provides an introduction to ethology. The novel couples this introduction with a call for reflection and mobilization to stem the planetary scourge of climate change. In the plot, events focus on the designated culprit and a socio-political solution is presented as the appropriate response: we must limit or even abandon our abusive consumption of fossil fuels. But would this response really be an adequate solution to the climate threat? The investigator leads us to discover that this approach is far from the panacea that would eliminate the specter of global warming. In fact, the investigation shows that our waste of fossil fuels is just "the tip of the iceberg" among the causes that generate planetary disruption. The disruption should be examined as the outcome of our far-ranging behavior. Therefore, the investigation continues. The truth is revealed, and the verdict delivered... around a table on the menu of a restaurant. This is a verdict that will suit everyone, in soul and conscience, both to hear and to validate.
Âmes animales ….An inspiring read that opens the cognitive horizon. A reflection that should become part of a collective destiny... that of all sentient beings, of all beings endowed with consciousness, of all beings possessing the common right to live.
Meet Author Geoffreyjen Edwards, Friend Attending our Quebec City Meeting
Time: On November 4, between 12h30 and 13h00
Where: The Holiday Book Fair, Atrium of the McConnell Building, Concordia University, Paragraph Books Kiosk
Activity: Book signing of Geoffreyjen’s recently published book The First Book of Deo, recently published by Untimely Books of Longmont, Colorado.
The Novel: First volume of a science fiction trilogy set in the distant future. Themes of interest to Quakers: relationship of the individual and sex/gender; mental health. Descriptive summary:
"Vanu Francoeur is a gender-neutral novice in the Kinship of the Suffering God, whose mandate is to seed new stars within a stellar nursery, where jonahs (living ships descended from the whales of Old Earth) roam wild. An intimate encounter with an exotic outsider stirs up a storm of conflicts within the usually quiet religious order, and triggers an awakening in Vanu that forever changes hir relationship with hir community and hir sibs. In rebellion against the Kinship’s heavy-handed sanctions, zhe hurtles towards a resolution—touched by a haunting mystery—deep within the fires of a star."
Geoffreyjen will be attending the conference on November 4 and 5; if you want a signing appointment with them other than the official time, write us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will forward your request.
Special Thanks to:
Roberta de la Torre
To contact the Newsletter Team please email us at email@example.com