Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ode to Mary Dyer

ESR student Anna Woofenden recently posted this poem on her blog (http://annawoofenden.com) as part of her Pilgrimage Summer series. We share it here with her permission:


Mary, Oh Mary,
here your statue sits.
So calmly,
hands together in your lap,
upturned,
as if open to receive.

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Your head is bowed slightly,
face softened.

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Both feet planted firmly on the floor,
back straight on the bench.

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I wonder.
Maybe you’re sitting in
Quaker Worship,
waiting in silence for the Spirit to move.
You look so calm and peaceful.
Serene.
I wonder.
Is this how you looked when
they taunted you and tortured you?
Was your face full of such grace
when your fellow Christians
persecuted you
because your spirit-filled Quaker ways
didn’t fit their Puritan sensibilities?
Oh, Mary.
You loved as a martyr.
You kept showing up.
When they kicked you out of Boston,
when they jailed you,
persecuted you
When they hung you in the square.
You put liberty of truth above your life.
You moved from white martyr,
to green,
to red,
with your blood.
We look to you.
Your face that has become so familiar,
as it sits on campus back in Indiana,
in front of Stout Meeting house.
I’ve looked at your slightly lowered eyes
and lowered mine as I sit.
I’ve looked to you as a feminine example,
a faith leader to follow and emulate.
But Mary, Oh Mary.
Seeing you here in Boston,
flanking the State House,
across from the memorials,
I remember.
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You, Oh Mary,
you stood for truth and faith
in ways that I only want to read about
in history books.
When you were persecuted
by the moralistic fundamentalists
within your religious tradition–
you stood up.
You spoke.
When you were jailed and silenced,
you leaned into the silence,
gained strength and courage
and stood up
and spoke
again.
Your hands gently cupped to receive,
the same hands that grasped and fought for justice.

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Your eyes lowered,
The ones that flashed and sparkled
as you proclaimed uncomfortable truth.

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Your feed firmly planted,
stood your ground,
walked many miles,
kept showing up,
emerging from the Silence,
witness for the Light.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New student introduction - Angela Roesler

Our incoming class for the 2013-14 academic year is just beginning to take shape. We're excited to introduce to you some of our new students who will be joining us for the fall semester. Today's featured student is Angela Roesler, who is an MDiv Access student from Indianapolis, IN:



Hello!  My name is Angela (Nevitt) Roesler, and I'm thrilled to be starting graduate studies at ESR in the Fall.

In terms of religious tradition, I am essentially a "cradle Catholic" (although technically I was baptized Methodist... so the "cradle" truth is a tiny bit stretched there!)  In any case, my childhood religious formation occurred in the Catholic Church; it was there I had my first communion and confirmation, and it was in the context of Catholic Mass that I fell in love with the Gospel and the ritual of our liturgy.  As a pre-teen I became one of the first altar girls in a very conservative diocese in Illinois, and I was very proud of this!!  This step represented a small stride in terms of gender equality in Catholic tradition - an opportunity made possible by the work of generations before me (and a fantastic priest) - something I could not fully appreciate as a child, but for which I am very grateful now.

I have been long interested in theological study, and I've investigated several Catholic seminaries over the years but none have felt quite right to me.  Just this past Spring, a friend introduced me to ESR, and I simply fell in love.  While visiting campus, I sat in on an Intro to New Testament class (where the dynamic was fascinating), and I attended a prayer service where I was struck by the rhythm of the selected readings and hymns followed by the silence - it was powerful and lovely.  In the end, one of the reasons I chose ESR was to expose myself regularly to diversity of religious thought and spiritual tradition in an academic setting, and both the class and the prayer service validated a somewhat intangible experience I had been waiting for - the one that told me, "yep, this is the place."

I envision my primary emphasis being in Pastoral Care, with keen interest in connecting spirituality with holistic health-caring.  I currently work for the Sisters of St. Francis managing the Oldenburg Franciscan Center where my role is to help implement best business practices to grow and sustain a long-term retreat ministry.  I also help develop programs - including our Jungian psychology and compassionate companioning program (the latter being a new project in the works!), and I facilitate spiritual autobiography workshops and a Franciscan film & discussion series.

I am bilingual (Spanish), a poet, a pianist, and above all other things I am the privileged mother of a darling 7 year old son.  We both love nature, art, kid adventure movies (especially fantasy & sci-fi), singing, dancing, and I marvel every day at the way his mind develops!  

Although I'll be an Access student (from Indianapolis), I look forward to meeting the rest of you and hope to frequently participate in the ESR community in person.  I thank the many students and staff who have already reached out to be supportive and welcoming to me!  That's been invaluable!  I'll see you in the Fall!  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Theology of a Quaker Logger


Below is a message delivered by ESR student Martin Melville at Williamsburg Friends on Sunday, April 14, 2013:



On several occasions, F/friends have expressed surprise when I told them I am a logger and that I find logging to be deeply spiritual work. How, they ask, can it possibly be spiritual when you’re out there raping and pillaging Creation? The question itself belies a limited understanding of resource management.  The fact that they can ask such a question earnestly has led to introspection on my part to try to understand specifically what it is about this work that is so deeply spiritual, and how I might try to explain. Perhaps equally important is the fact that the decisions of landowners, the public, and my peers in the forest products industry can all have either positive or negative influences on the environment. Our current social fabric encourages us to pick a position based on whatever information we have gleaned from sources we deem credible. For whatever reason, we tend not to seek opinions or positions or people that don’t agree with what we have established as our worldview. One result is that many well intentioned positions actually degrade the environment. Ignorance is no excuse. For example, opposition to clearcuts (gasp!) results in subtle (or not so subtle) changes in the species of trees that grow in the forest, which affects the animals that can live there (no food or shelter, no animals). Oops.

This work is stewardship. A steward is one who cares for and is responsible someone or something. Practiced correctly, and I must emphasize correctly, logging is the implementation of forestry, essentially where the rubber meets the road in stewardship of God’s creation. It is a weighty commission. Forestry is driven by silviculture, analogous to agriculture for farming, but more complex because of the many amenity values forests provide compared to crop fields. Its essence, though, is to mimic what occurs naturally in nature. Water stays clean. Animals have food and shelter. Carbon is sequestered and oxygen is produced. Trees die and let light in to the forest floor. Sometimes storms blow down large swaths of forest. Seeds germinate and grow into trees. Through management it is possible to more or less double the amount of merchantable wood on a plot of ground over a given amount of time. Out of all of this, it is possible to garner, to harvest, some amount of both timber and non-timber products which we as a society need and use in increasing quantities every day.

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Work is a great way to experience the Presence. Consider Brother Lawrence, a 7th century monk who found it easiest to be aware of the presence of God while performing “menial” tasks. Among his favorite places was the monastery kitchen, doing the dishes. Brother Lawrence’s experience lacked the intense physical exertion which can be a great framework for deep meditation. Anything that requires concentration can serve to bring us into awareness of God near us: kayaking, mountain biking, working out at the gym, running…logging. One could refer to it as intensely physical meditation. 

Any kind of work where the product of your work can be seen at the end of the day gives a sense of accomplishment, gratitude and thanks. The typical logging job is large enough that it won’t be completed in a day, or even a week. You come to understand that those trees will still be there in the morning, waiting for you. Forestry works on an even longer time frame: often what you do today will not be yours to complete. Trees grow, but a tree planted today may take 80 years to be harvestable, I’ll not be around to see it.
It becomes apparent that what is important is the outcome, not so much how it was arrived at. I often say that if I learned nothing else from Geometry in school, I learned that there is more than one way to prove a theorem. The same is true for work. As long as safety and care for the environment are observed, I allow employees (almost) complete freedom in how they perform a task. In general, it is also helpful if each person tries to make the work the next will perform, a little easier. For example, there is usually a range of about ninety degrees in the direction a tree can be felled. The feller should choose the direction that will facilitate taking the tree to where it can be picked up by the truck, while minimizing damage to trees that will remain. Job descriptions are fluid. Ultimately they all boil down to the same one: in Pennsylvania-speak “if it needs done, do it.” To extrapolate to life, a range of solutions is usually available for any given problem. In most cases, we can be intentional in making our actions so that they make the life of those who follow, a little easier. If you see a place you can help, part of being faithful is acting instead of just watching.

A third, multifaceted, way logging is spiritual is the direct experience, the immanence of God. I believe, and experience that God is everywhere. I take the perhaps old fashioned approach that we are to worship the Creator, not the creation, (Romans) though I have come to understand that this is perhaps a narrower interpretation of the Presence than other religions, for example most eastern wisdom traditions and many aboriginal ones as well. One aspect of this approach is that God is accessible at all times. You could call it God wifi. Answers are just a prayer away. If we choose to be aware of it, we are constantly bathed in grace.
I became aware of that omnipresent grace at least in part because of the inherently hazardous nature of the work. Even a piece of branch 2 feet long and 2-3 inches in diameter has enough force to kill a person when it falls from a sufficient height. Every day, every action, every night you get to go home, all of life becomes a gift. Life in the woods is dangerous. I once provided some OSHA inspectors with felling instruction. They commented that all the branches and vines and other tripping hazards wouldn’t be tolerated on a factory floor, but out here they’re part of the job. You can get clobbered by a springpole,  a small tree bent into a tight arc packs a tremendous amount of energy. If you cut it off and you’re in the wrong place, it’s boom boom. Out go the lights. Trees can roll. They can sling debris back toward the stump as they brush past other trees on their way to the ground. If you can imagine it, it can probably happen. 

One of the early safety workshops I participated in used an analogy to drive home the point of risk and grace. “I have a bottle of 300 pills. Thirty of them will make you sick. Would you take one?” The instructor asked. The guys hemmed and hawed. “Yeah, maybe,” someone ventured. “OK” said the instructor. “I have the same bottle of 300 pills, only one of them will kill you. Do you still want one?” He asked the fellow who had volunteered earlier. “No way!” was the response. The 300 represent the number of close calls where there is no injury. The thirty represent the chances that the close call will result in an injury (1:10). And the one represents the chances that the close call will be your last. God tries to get our attention. He tries to get us to change our ways. If close calls don’t do it, sometimes an accident will wake us up. We are given many opportunities to see what is in front of us. If we’re faithful, attentive, (some would call it lucky), we recognize that tap on the shoulder and have an ah-ha moment.

Another place I became aware of grace is in recognizing just how frail, how ephemeral our earthly bodies are. As mentioned above, we can be killed by a small piece of falling branch. If you’re hit, you just crumple onto the ground in a heap, like the wicked witch of the west when Dorothy throws water on her. Then there is the dawning of the knowledge of how physically weak we are. That is the extent of the earthly power we possess.  I can maybe lift 150-200 pounds. In the power of the Lord, I can move mountains. All things are possible in the presence of God’s grace. 

If you spend time in nature, you know that it is easy to see God at work in the order of things and all around you, the essence of transcendence. It ranges from the intricate beauty of a Queen Anne’s lace plant to bird songs to…anything you see, smell, hear, touch, the presence is all around you. It is revealing to me to observe the difference between human notions of order and God’s order, the way nature looks before we’ve interfered. The woods is neat. So is the thicket. Every twig has its place. On the one hand, God is immanent: present at this very moment. On the other hand, God is transcendent, over-arching, one might say detached.
In his book The Company of Strangers, Parker Palmer states “Faith is a venture into the unknown, into the realms of mystery, away from the safe and comfortable and secure.”  That is the basis of this way of life. In this business model you don’t know what a load of logs is worth until the check comes in the mail. We pay for the trees before we know if they are solid or rotten. We live in a world where work can be suspended for as much as several weeks while the frost comes out of the ground. Equipment is cranky. Employees and managers are human. We are, even as the children of God, flawed individuals. All we can do is our best. Sometimes things don’t work out the way we had planned. We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, get our bearings and go for plan “B.” Uncertainty and change are the only things you can count on. You learn the risks and hazards. Part of life with this bottle of pills is learning to recognize which ones will make you sick (injured) and what to do about it. What is the antidote? You very actively and intentionally problem solve, and if you’re smart (faithful), you invite God into the process. If you’re lucky, you survive unscathed to practice on your own another day. You learn to live on faith that way will open, that you’ll come home at the end of the day, that the bills will be paid, that there’ll be a roof over your head and food on the table. 

Surprises are rarely good in this business, or at least what we usually call good. You learn to listen to that still, small voice. Take the best shot. The outcome isn’t good or bad, it just is. Now, what’s your next move? I’ve said it’s like being parachuted onto a desert isle, or into the jungle. You are here. You have 2 matches and a piece of rope….how will you adapt? How will you use what is present to accomplish your ends? Can you see parallels with the Kingdom? How will you use your life and work for the glory of God? As with ministry, it often takes time to be able to see the real effects. Thirty few years ago I was hit by a tree. I got a cracked cheekbone and a dislocated hip out of the deal. The same day, another fellow cutting firewood (I was logging, which is different) was killed, not too far down the same mountain I was working on. It was a very similar accident. The hip is becoming arthritic. I could wish I hadn’t had the accident, but it had a huge effect on who I became and the direction of my career. To say it was bad, I think would be wrong. It was interactive, like reality. Which of us was lucky and which was unlucky is not ours to judge. Every choice we make opens new ones and eliminates others. In the end we must learn patience and forbearance. As a friend told me, “In retrospect, life is a series of serendipitous events. When we are in the thick of it, we lack perspective.” In the end we will see clearly.

Further evidence of the immanence of God is experienced through experimentation and revelation. In order for them to be effective, openness to new, different, unconsidered or unconventional answers to prayers is necessary. It has been my observation that all prayers are answered, it’s just that sometimes the answer isn’t what we expect or want. The result sometimes is that we miss it completely. Moses questioned God. Jacob wrestled with Him. God is patient. Part of the continuing dialogue with Her is this ever present  “why?” I could think that I am to Her like a 2-year old to a parent. We stray. We try, but frequently don’t succeed on our first try. Sometimes we disobey and get in trouble, but like the prodigal son, we are always allowed to return to the safety of the Parent. Sometimes I think there is an expectation of being questioned, that If I’m not asking why, perhaps something is wrong. Certainly, as mentioned above, I have observed growth resulting from events at least initially judged by me as either good or bad. I’ve learned to suspend judgment. The reaction is more like “well now Lord, that’s not quite what I had in mind, but OK. I can work with that. Ours is to do, to be, not to judge. Leave the judging to God. My job is to live faithfully. That is the essence of righteousness. It is important not to get hung up on form, as the elders at Balby noted in 1656. If the goal is to “git ‘er done” in the words of Ron White, we find that in the Kingdom the shortest way there is the long way around. Shortest can be understood as “best,” but best in the Kingdom is often directly opposed to best as perceived by humankind. Much of life in the Presence is, or appears to be, counterintuitive from the our perspective. To paraphrase, the riches of heaven are different from what is portrayed as earthly riches.

Around 1990, I read Fox’s Journal. In it, he says often “this I knew experimentally.” So I decided to try various aspects of exploring faith experimentally. It is important to understand that whether I am felling (cutting down) a tree or driving a log skidder or forwarding logs out of the woods, there are times when intense attention to the matters immediately at hand is essential. That intensity made it relatively easy to practice living in the moment. What has happened is in the past and is immaterial. What will happen isn’t here yet. It’s all about NOW! However, such times are interspersed with relatively long periods where nothing much is going on: I’m sawing or driving. Lots of noise, not much action. Among the first things I tried was to live Paul’s injunction to pray without ceasing. During those “quiet” times of sawing or driving I could pray. At first I was skeptical, but I kept at it. I found that the idea of centering and worshiping wasn’t limited to Sunday morning, and ministry wasn’t only something spoken from a pulpit. The practice of enlisting God’s help and direction didn’t need to be, and in fact shouldn’t be limited to meeting for business. It was available to me as I lived and worked.  I learned to live integrity. Not only was the business a ministry, the concept expanded to include every area of my life. I came to understand my work and the way I ran my business to be a witness to my faith, and that it bore visible fruit. I came to understand that chainsaws and machines and the petty aggravations of life are outward noise and need not necessarily interfere with the audibility of the inward Teacher. At times the lessons were fleeting. At others they lasted for several months. I sought to learn to listen and be given an understanding of others’ perspectives. That took about six months. I sought patience. I sought the ability to forgive as Jesus instructed we should. I practiced lectio divina on the Lord’s prayer. “Thy will…” I rolled it over and over on my tongue. In my mind. Thy will, not mine, be done. Submit. Acknowledge who’s in charge here. Give praise in ALL things to the creator, for the praise is His. The work my hands do is His work. My strength is finite. His is not. In every one of these cases my prayer, my conversation with God was answered. There were times when the answer was “not now,” or “that is not for you to know.” I knew when to quit pushing; I had faith that if I was to know, it would be revealed.
I do not wish to pretend that this philosophy is the norm for my peers. It is my hope that this short epistle has given you a glimpse into the ways logging can be (and is for me) a deeply spiritual way to care for God’s creation, earn a living, and witness to His glory.

You can learn more about Martin and his work here: www.melforserv.com.
 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Trust: It’s a Daily Practice


Bethany Theological Seminary and Earlham School of Religion's Seminaries Librarian Jane Pinzino delivered the following message in ESR worship on Thursday, May 2: 

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a week-long colloquy at the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion.  It was something that I applied for although I was unsure what exactly I had signed up for.  Fourteen theological librarians from across the nation, including myself, descended on Crawfordsville, Indiana for a week of  dialogue and envisioning together, generously supported by the Lilly Endowment.  What immediately impacted me on one level was the quality of material comforts, the accommodations, the healthy and delicious meals, the fine wine, chocolates, the recreational outings, the freebies showered upon us, and then at a deeper level--the warmth and delight that our presence generated for the hosts and which they expressed to each of us and to all of us. Early in the week, I mentioned to the Center director Paul how much I appreciated the superbly gracious hospitality and his response was this, “We know that theological librarians dwell in a culture of scarcity and we want you, if only for one week, to experience abundance.”

I was quite touched by this and did my part to absorb all the abundance I could during that week.  Working together was so much fun, and we laughed and played and made jokes like, “What happens at Wabash, stays at Wabash.” The hospitality extended to us created a remarkably high-trust gathering.  Now, back home and at work I have reflected on how I might stand firm in the experience and I welcome this chance to share with you how I am approaching it.  
One of the distinctions I find is between persevering during times of scarcity versus perpetuating a culture of scarcity.  There is no doubt that we exist in a time of economic scarcity that affects all of us every day and perhaps more than we let on.  We require health insurance, we seek employment and hope to avoid under-employment, we strive to pay off student loans, credit cards, hardship is real. There is no Lilly Endowment to solve these pressing realities.  There exist significant budget shortfalls and my idea is not to develop a prosperity consciousness so as to magically dissolve these realities. Rather, an enduring abundance is from within, with my friends, my family, my colleagues. My people are my wealth. Wendell Berry writes, “Do you want an economy of grace based on generosity, or an economy of scarcity based on acquisition?” 
I seek to challenge and revoke in myself a mindset of scarcity and replace it with abundance, and I find trust at the foundation of my search.  Benjamin Franklin who came from humble circumstances said, “While we may not be able to control all that happens to us, we can control what happens inside us.”  Centuries later, Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor also said, “Everything can be taken from a person but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” I hear abundance calling us, put away your distrust. Come to life’s banquet.
Trust proves to be an entire life choice, as I see it, a daily practice.  To establish trust, to extend trust, to inspire trust, to restore trust.  Trust is the form that abundance takes in recreating ourselves from the inside out.  Trust is a daily practice, that begins and ends with trust in life itself.  Life has invested trust in us, and stands firm in its covenant as we move into trusting it. It works, and can only work, both ways. The comfort in Psalm 23 is the gift of trust available to each of us and to all of us, spoken in the language of the heart.  Faith is trust in life. We are trustees in creation. 
There are three channels for trust in life that I meditate upon, trust in self, trust in another, and trust in the community. Trusting in ourselves is listening within and being honest with ourselves even if we choose not to admit to others, at this time, what we know to be true about ourselves. We start by not lying to ourselves and by making and then by keeping commitments to ourselves. When I fail to keep the commitments I make to myself, I sign up for scarcity mindset, for an inward and profound sense of lack. When scarcity culture dwells within me, I am disconnected and alienated.  Why do I take commitments to myself more lightly than commitments to others?  Is it because there is no human witness?
Indeed, life is our witness. Commitments to ourselves can be small or large but even breaking the small ones has the effect of eroding trust in ourselves. So I am learning not to set the alarm clock for much earlier than I will likely get up.  Trusting myself means being who I am, and that is to listen to the human person directly entrusted to my care. Self-discovery is a move towards trust in life. When I am sick, I am responsible to my health, I am not responsible for my sickness, but I am responsible to it in an open-hearted way that invites abundance to dwell within.  Each of us has pain within, and to trust life is to become friends with that pain. A Buddhist thinker shares this insight, “Becoming intimate with pain is the key to trusting at the core of our being - staying open to everything we experience." [adapted from Pema Chodron,]  The paradox here is that our wealth lies in our vulnerability.
It is from a place of self-trust that relationship trust becomes possible, trust in another, trust in others. In the gripping words of Martin Buber, “Each of us wishes to be confirmed in our being by another, and we wish to have a presence in the being of the other . . . secretly and bashfully we watch for a YES which allows us to be, and which can come to us only from one human person to another.” And a recent thinker goes on, “The irony is that when we are standing across from someone who is hidden or shielded by masks and armor, we feel frustrated and disconnected.  That is the paradox: vulnerability is the last thing I want you to see in me, but the first thing I look for in you (BrenĂ© Brown).” 

   

So how does trust live between persons, or among a group of people? “We may be deceived if we trust too much, but we live in torment if we do not trust enough (adapted from Frank Crane).” I am reading a book for a team-building initiative entitled, “The Speed of Trust,” by Stephen Covey.  And although the book is geared towards operating a successful business, it is useful for other organizations as well including the interpersonal organization of one-on-one relationships. And Covey offers guidelines which I have edited and pass on to you in the form of ten commandments for building a trusting relationship: listen first; talk from the heart; demonstrate respect; right wrongs; show loyalty; improve behavior;  practice accountability; clarify expectations; keep commitments; extend trust.
Relationship trust is all about consistent behavior, something that the children in my life have taught me. A child subject to much inconsistent behavior is an insecure child. A while back I taught high school for a couple of years. I did my part for the youth of America, an experience unlike any other. That first year, the students walked all over me, complained about everything, were so ungrateful, hated my class, and I was utterly exhausted and finally late in the year I took a couple of days off on personal leave and left worksheets with the substitute.  I was running on empty, deep in scarcity mindset.  When I returned to school the following week, I heard a voice in the hallways, “Ms. P is back.” with enthusiasm? Huh? And some students came into my homeroom, as though happy to see me, and demanding “Were you sick? What was wrong with you? I know you must have been really sick because you never miss school.” To my great surprise, my absence had been felt. Somewhere along the way, that difficult year, I had earned a degree of their trust although I had not known it, and they were counting on me in ways I did not even perceive. “To be trusted, I learned, is a greater compliment than to be liked (adapted from George MacDonald).”


The third type of trust which I meditate upon, a community’s trust is something as a historian of Christianity that I have long researched in the life of Joan of Arc, the medieval warrior. A 17-year-old girl managed to run away from home in a farming village, earn the trust of the king and his top military brass to the great extent that they gave her a horse and allowed her to lead an army into battle against invaders who had refused peace negotiations.  And Joan won this abundance of trust in a very short span of time, a matter of months. It would be as if one of our Earlham College students went to Washington, gained a personal audience with the President and then proceeded to resolve the crisis in the Middle East, which some of our students in fact would be prepared to do. So this is what I understand about community trust from Earlham and from Joan of Arc. Joan of Arc full of herself even though she was fully herself; she did not self-aggrandize or attribute victory to herself, in the frame of medieval piety--she fasted, prayed and confessed her wrongdoings.  She heard the sufferings of her people and longed to serve them, and in her service, she led, calling attention to the goodness in others including her enemies, and she delivered hope for a better day.  Her generosity was her vocation and her vulnerability was that of a non-combatant in battle. The city of Orleans was under siege, on the brink of starvation, deep in despair and together with Joan, the city was liberated and they rejoiced. They rejoice in that event down to the present day. Scarcity was replaced by abundance, and trust and hope show themselves to be closely knit sisters.

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The community itself took a chance on Joan; and extending trust always does involves risk, for misplaced trust and especially broken trust hit at the core of our vulnerability. And Joan was a person of trustworthy and truthful words, her words were like passwords to the heart of her community.  More importantly about her words, they were chosen from listening, listening within and listening without.
Moreover then, what I have learned in my brief time here as member of a Quaker community is how trust is built by listening with the intent to understand, rather than the intent to reply. This is truly a daily practice. Life speaks to us on its own terms, in a language we all understand, it is the same language within each of us, calling us to the abundance of trust within ourselves and throughout our lives.  “Living is meeting,” as Buber put it.  Faith then is placing trust in God, or in other words, living into trusteeship for the life placed in us.
Today is a new day.
I vow to let go of my fear of lack
I vow to let go of comparing and contrasting.
I vow to let go
 to find the freedom and abundance
That already exist in my heart. (adapted from Buddhist teaching)