Quaker meditation

Quaker meditation by Isaac Pennington, 1828

Taped up on one of our kitchen cabinets is a postcard I once received from the Friends organization, acknowledging a memorial contribution I had made.

I look at it because it quells my contentious spirit.  Like everyone else, I sometimes find it difficult to let go of my point of view.  But it’s good to let go, because then I can connect with other people more fully, go through the days more peaceably.

I look at the children’s faces: at the shyness, fear, and uncertainty they express, along with a simple innocence and beauty.  The viewer looks into their faces, at their strange garb, their powerless hands.  And they look back at us, neither party at all sure of the situation.

As for the words, I like them because they are not an injunction.  They are a simple assertion about the nature of life, about what life should be about, about our human duty.  And that purpose—to love and help one another while withholding judgment—is expressed in just a few, clear, calm lines.

Looking at the Quaker meditation in the wake of the Boston marathon bombing comforts me.  How different this world would be if we tried to live in the manner Isaac Penington suggests.  The murderous rage pulsing through everyday life calls us to renew our quest for peace in our hearts and in the world.

May the souls of those killed in Boston by an unknown assailant rest in peace.

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