Some Good Signs of the Times
by Regina St. Clare
Did you read and maybe remember this last paragraph in the NYYM September Spark?
“We have so much to learn from other traditions… and probably wisdom that we could share with them. How do we connect more frequently like this?”
I was immediately delighted and surprised and wondered how that question came about.
I emailed to ask Emily Provance, guest editor of that issue, The Life Cycle of Meetings. She said it was from an ecumenical exchange between Friends and Christians of other sects who knew much about the expiration or laying down of congregations/meetings.
Emily, not sure who said that ending paragraph, agreed that to her, it was more than Christian ecumenism; it was, as I hoped, universal. We also agreed that this was not giving up Quaker practice or mixing theologies. No one faith is necessarily the best faith. (Emily’s blog Turning Turning…Holy Experiments Among Friends, quakeremily.wordpress.com, is a testament to Quaker enrichment for Friends far and wide.)
To find out what other Friends thought about this, in answer to the worship sharing question at a recent gathering of Shrewsbury and Plainfield Half Yearly Meeting, “what would bring you joy in the future at meeting?” I quoted the paragraph. In a later chat, a couple of Friends thought the time had come to be more open and engaged in exchanges with other traditions. The next day I went to my home meeting, Shrewsbury, and was reminded that we had a local Monmouth Center for World Religions and Ethical Thought that I helped get going in the early days. They continue to offer an excellent evolving program. And universal ecumenism is growing by the day.
Georgina, my writing buddy in Wales, and I were grieving Queen Elizabeth’s recent death. She reminded me of the Bahá'í faith’s principle of the Unity of Religions: there is The Faith; not a particular faith, but all faiths. We are all of One Source, and we need to appreciate the full range of diversity and learn with and from each other. I think this gives hope to all those grieving losses—personal or political. We are more than any one religion….we have a huge family to love and learn with. I was amazed that Queen Elizabeth’s funeral was said to have attracted five billion viewers—60% of the world population. Talk about unity!
How can we learn from other traditions? As a tutor for Bahá'í Ruhi classes, and a docent for the Connecticut Asian Cultural Center, I have a dream of a Zoom hybrid gathering where Friends, Bahá'ís, and others share their experience—for what we have in common, how we are distinct, and even to work together to make the world more unified, intergenerationally.
Bahá'í Nancy Wetstein and I are working on finding a location and a selection of speakers, musicians, and a tech team for this gathering. We plan to have a gourmet vegetarian Chinese dinner from Taste of Tao. It’s to be in central New Jersey, hybrid over Zoom. If interested, please email me at [email protected].