The Practice of Hope — or Being Rooted

For the Spanish translation, visit here.

Devotional for March 17, 2021 – FWCC Section of the Americas Meeting

Lamentations 3:21-24
from the New Revised Standard Version:

21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

We’re called upon at this section meeting “to turn from lamentations to the Light.” It’s a movement that spans the reach between our faith & our practice. It is such a movement of Spirit that birthed Quakerism, & at a time like our own — during upheavals in the world.

The Religious Society of Friends perhaps is like a tree that has a taproot. Such is the White Pine, the state tree of Maine & to where I moved in October, during Fall. A taproot grows deeply from its seed, creating points that anchor & stabilize a tree from being blown over by the wind.

From Quaker roots & surrounded by White Pines, Rufus Jones was born in the state of Maine; the US Civil War was coming to an end. He survived a lengthy, deadly infection as a child. As a young man, he survived the death of his first wife; a few years later, that of his first-born child.

When the US entered World War I, the Summer of 1914, Rufus held fast to his roots. He focused on: “how to keep our faith in God & in the coming Kingdom; how to interpret our ideals of love & peace.” That Winter, he fell on the ice, & suffered a head-injury.

Seeking recovery on a trip, his ship sailed into a hurricane. This experience broke him, & led to exhaustion. By Summer, Rufus sought recovery on Mt. Desert Island of Maine. The quiet of nature was a balm, & a turning point arrived. Although very discouraged, Rufus accepted an invitation to preach. It was his first sermon after the injury, & he was renewed by Spirit.

Rufus lived faithfully another 30 years. He added his Light in many ways that grew into the Friends World Committee for Consultation. He also witnessed the reuniting of New England Yearly Meeting after a century of division among its own body.

In preparing today’s devotional, Spirit moved me to bring forward this story of our beloved Friend Rufus Jones. At first, I weighed how the practice of gratitude — or giving thanks — gives rise to hope.

And I was reminded how we are grown from the same Seed Christ as that of the First Friends, & experienced by the first followers of Jesus; how the Quaker tree is held by a taproot — the Inner Teacher to whom we listen.

Dear Quaker family, let us listen deeply. Let us invite the balm of nature & the White Pine.  Spirit is here to minister to us, to move us from lamentations to the Light.

Great is thy faithfulness, dear God.
You do not change.
Your compassion does not fail.

Summer, Winter, Spring & Fall
join with all nature in manifold witness
to thy great faithfulness, mercy, & love.

Your dear presence is hope itself.
You are our taproot, giving strength for today
& bright hope for tomorrow.


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