The text below was prepared as ministry for the British Quakers’ Yearly Meeting Gathering event in 08/2011.
by Maud Grainger
Words such as connectedness, love, sharing, testimony – words are easy to say, words fly out of our mouths all the time. We speak, write, listen and think words. Its easy to say what we think is right. Are we speaking and never acting? Are we who we are or are we pretending to be who we think we should be?
For some years now I have thought that it is through people that I experience God, when I see people interacting positively with one another, with nature – this is God speaking to me, these moments, to me, are the glimmers of the grace of God.
What do these moments mean? Do they affect my behaviour, my habits – do they make me interact more positively in the world?
We all spend a lot of time looking at other peoples lives, but do we look at our own? Are we accountable for our actions or do we hope others will make the sacrifices so we won’t have to?
Let us be honest, let us own the things in our lives we are not proud of and embrace and celebrate that which we are able to do. Let us look into our lives and ask ourselves some serious questions about those areas in our lives where our actions don’t quite meet our values.
Every other year I try to go to Madagascar, I fly there because one of the communities I belong to is there, I fly there to see children who have to take love where they can find it – do they realize that all the hugs and love I can provide in one trip won’t protect them when there country is plagued with tornados, with drought, with food shortages. Do they realize that every minute I am in the air I am adding my own personal contribution to an unsustainable planet, where they, some of the poorest in the world will suffer the most – whilst I sit in my house inBirmingham. So what do I do with my words of love – do I try and explain that me being there makes the tornadoes worse, do I say, I do love you and that is why I can’t come over anymore, do I keep going until one day I stop because it’s too hard and I turn off the news because I can’t face what I have done?
So what do we do with the challenges we face, do we hide from the decision because it’s too hard to make? Do we seek guidance in the silent worship? Do we look to our community to help us? Can we live the reality of our decisions with our communities and with those who love us?
I imagine and I also hope that this week will be challenging for us. People and words will be everywhere and it will be our responsibility to take these interactions and these words home with us – let them wash over our lives and affect what they can.
The time of tough questions is here. Don’t sit there and think its not about you, this is about all of us, this is about living our values, this is about saying if I care, this is how I have to live.
Let’s be present, let’s be present in our communities, let’s speak up, let’s speak louder, let’s act and let’s act quicker. Do not go home and forget this week, don’t forget these people and don’t forget these words.