by Gail Rogers
During my 35 years as a Friend, I have heard various people say “I don’t fit in because I am a Christian,” or “I don’t feel welcome because I am not Christian,” or “I feel connected to nature in my spirituality but I don’t talk about it because Friends will think I am strange., ” On occasion I have asked myself whether I am really a Quaker; do I qualify, and by whose standard?
My vision for Quaker universalism is that of a “free space” where we can feel safe to speak our truth, ask hard questions and explore in safety – where we all belong. A lack of trust inhibits our worship, our verbal sharing, and our own spiritual growth as we develop and test our leadings in community. If we believe that the Light is within all of us, why do so many of us hide our Light from each other? How many of us are worried about feeling accepted and our own unique spirituality respected?
The Quaker Universalist Fellowship can foster a safe forum for sharing, exploring and experimentation among our own participants. This already happens in the QUF Yahoo group, and we have the opportunity to have expanded discussion on this blog. What steps can we take to foster dialog?
We can also encourage a dialog between Friends with diverse paths within Quakerism. I suspect that most, if not all Friends who participate with Quaker Universalists are part of the more liberal, unprogrammed branches of Friends. We can take the lead fostering sharing among Friends from the many branches of the Quaker tree. How can we be more inclusive?
Quaker Universalism includes participation with denominations and religions outside of Quakerism. Quakers frequently participate in interfaith efforts and projects based on common values. How can we, as Quaker Universalists, foster interfaith dialog in a free space with peace, safety, and deep listening?
As I consider this vision of fostering a “free space” for dialog regarding our spiritual journeys, I am wondering how those of you who read this blog feel about this matter. Do you share my feelings about the need for this? Do you share my vision for fostering dialog as a role for QUF? What other thoughts arise on this topic as you read this?