The Practice of Memory — or Opening the Heart

Devotional for March 18, 2021 – FWCC Section of the Americas Meeting

Turning toward the Light from lamentation is like the seed moving simultaneously into roots & beyond the depths into green shoots.

Moving between lamentation & the Light is Spirit moving within us as well as between all beings throughout Creation.

Spirit’s movement gives rise to practices that open the heart through joy & also sorrow. As we grow in heart, constriction gives way to invitation & separateness to unity.

This direction is “the new & living way” of Jesus — the Living Path of Love.

Opening the heart is to honor what has come to pass:
thanking our Creator who is Love;
thanking our enemies for the chance to love;
& thanking the thousands of ancestors who have loved us into being, as named by author Linda Hogan of the Chickasaw Nation.

Fourth-generation Quaker Stanley Chagala Ngesa of the Margoli people in Kenya also names ancestors:

our own bodies, plants, soil, rivers, lakes, mountains, animals, creeping things, the sun, the moon, air, fire, wind, rain…

Friend Stanley continues, “… because without them we could not exist.”

Our Creator & our ancestors are inviting us to open our hearts that we may name how we’ve arrived to this “here and now”.

The pandemic is a call to the Living Path of Love. Are our hearts open to receive the call?

We are confronted by humanity’s history of harm alongside the possibility of healing Creation. Here I turn to Esther’s story in the Bible for listening to Spirit in a new way:

A man Haman abuses his power, translating hate into violence, thereby corrupting the law.

Esther is called upon by her uncle Mordecai to intervene in the impending genocide through messages carried by Hathach.

She calls upon her people to pray for her. Esther opens her heart to faithfulness, carefully discerning actions to save her people.

I’m reminded of a compelling quote from the 1943 Epistle of France Yearly Meeting during the Nazi occupation:

To Friends everywhere,
We do not ask that you pray that we be safe.
We ask that you pray that we be faithful.

In naming my ancestors as immigrants & indigenous peoples, the practice of memory teaches me to honor lamentations alongside songs of praise. 

I pray for hearts opening, for remembering the whole story of our “here & now”, for faithfulness to Spirit who calls us & moves us toward Right Relationship with all of Creation.

Psalm 42:4-6, New Revised Standard Version:

   These things I remember,
    as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng,
    and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
    a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my help 6 and my God.
My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.

May the Depths & our roots sustain us.
May the Light raise us up to be faithful.
May we Love fiercely & gently.


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