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Readings for Reflection: August 2013
from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel

A Joyful Spirit

My grandmother was a life-long, committed Quaker, a farm woman who worked long days and reared five children; all were educated in the one-room school house up the lane. She made sure that integritysimplicity, and compassion were qualities that each child understood and practiced. But the quality I remember best, and loved, about my grandmother was her sense of humor and joy in life. I think she would have appreciated Thomas Kelly's view immensely.                                    – Nancy Taylor

The possibility of (the) experience of Divine Presence, as a repeatedly realized and present fact, and its transforming and transfiguring effect upon all life – this is the central message of Friends.  Once discover this glorious secret, this new dimension of life, and we no longer live merely in time but we live also in the Eternal. ……

But, fluctuating in predominance though the two levels be, such a discovery of an Eternal Life and Love breaking in … makes life glorious and new. And one sings inexpressibly sweet songs within oneself, and one tries to keep one’s inner hilarity and exuberance within bounds lest, like the men of Pentecost, we be mistaken for men filled with new wine. Traditional Quaker decorum and this burning experience of a Living Presence are only with the greatest difficulty held together! I’d rather be jolly Saint Francis hymning his canticle to the sun than a dour old sobersides Quaker whose diet would appear to have been spiritual persimmons.


Thomas R. Kelly, A Testament of Devotion, pp. 67-8 in the HarperCollins edition of 1992

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