Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Plain dress November - Lasst Licht Hinin

In 1909, a book of Carl Larsson’s pictures was published. He was a Swedish artist who painted beautiful interiors and portraits – a record of his family life at home and on his farm. He was a remarkable artist.

The book was entitled Lasst Licht Hinin – which means ‘let the light come in’.

I have seen pictures from the book, but never held a copy; it is our of print now. But though I like the pictures, and admire his work very much, what has stayed with me particularly is that title.

Lasst Licht Hinin.

This morning, now that Badger is on two weeks holiday from work, we were able to spend time lying in bed and just chatting at the beginning of the day – and we were talking about his own spiritual journey in connection with Franciscan spirituality. He said that something about the Franciscans he finds very helpful is their emphasis on practice rather than doctrine. The first objective of the Anglican Third Order of St Francis is ‘to make Jesus known and loved everywhere’. They go about fulfilling that by gentleness and kindness and understanding, and by living a discipline of humble simplicity and faithful prayer.

Unlike many of the Christian groups we have come across, their minds are not taken up with orthodoxy and heresy, rectitude and error, but with the outliving of a way of simple obedience to Jesus’ command to love one another. They are Christian believers, but it is upon the lifestyle rather than the creed that they lay emphasis.

Our conversation then rambled on to the Quakers. It is with the Quakers that I feel most at home. I have one place where my thoughts do not wholly concur with Quaker beliefs, and that is regarding the Eucharist. I believe the Eucharist has great power. However, I do not believe that the Eucharist needs to be celebrated by a special priestly caste, or even restricted in its expression to a ritualized liturgical meal. I believe the Eucharist happens wherever a human life touches what Jesus was doing at the Last Supper – gathering, breaking, sharing; and making connections between his torn and broken body, the torn and broken body that is His church, the vulnerability of human life as events tear and break it, and the redemptive transformation we find as we gather in our vulnerability, and consent to touch Christ risen in the sharing, the breaking and the Peace. Gosh, that was a long sentence.

I could keep you here all day telling you things I love about the Quakers, but to pick out a couple of things: I love it that they believe there is ‘that of God in everyone.’ I love it that they look to find in the silence ‘evil weakened and the good raised up.’ And I love it that they refer to the Divine presence in terms of the Light – so describing God experientially rather than analytically.

I love their testimonies – to peace, simplicity, truth and integrity, equality and community and the wellbeing of the Earth. I love their understanding that God’s voice is heard in silence. It rests my soul that no-one speaks because they are scheduled or ordained or employed to do so – but only because they have something to say; and, most of the time, when they’ve said it, they stop.

It was in reading the website of Quaker Jane that I first came across the phrase (George Fox I think) that ‘Christ has come to teach His people Himself’. And that speaks to me so powerfully that it sets my soul alight. The whole of my life I have been thinking about the way of faith; and having been on Earth for 53 years now, I have concluded that the touchstone of abundant life is a living personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Without it, even the most beautiful form of religion is basically window-dressing. With it, hierarchies and dogmas and institutions become optional paraphernalia.

Lasst Licht Hinin. Let the light come in.

Today, that is what the Spirit is saying to me.


Julie B. said...

Beautifully said. Bringing my raggedy Bapticostal self here to your blog has nearly always resulted in my learning something new.

I have never known any Quakers and I know how impoverished that makes me. I hope to meet a Quaker someday. :) Here in the great frozen north 80 per cent of believers are Lutheran.

Enjoy your holiday time, Ember!

Ganeida said...

What drew me to the Quakers was exactly that it was experiential; to wait, to listen, to receive. I have issues with some of what my more liberal brothers & sisters believe & I do think communion was a command ~ but these are minor things as the very nature of Quaker belief allows for differences in belief & practice. The core is *the light within* ~ the comforter whom Christ himself sent to teach us of Himself, to light our path & show us the way in which we are to walk.

Must be something in the water this morning. Seeking posted on a similar theme.

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Julie - hi Ganeida!
Must check out what Seeking said...

Julia Bolton Holloway said...

I love Teilhard de Chardin in China, where he was in the remotest of mountains without bread, celebrating the 'Mass on the World'. That is Quaker Eucharist.

seekingmyLord said...

I may be a closet Quaker or on the fringe of it. Ember, I enjoy your posts so much. Being from Ohio, I admired how Quakers were involved in the underground railroad for slaves in nonviolent ways, with homes even built with secret hiding places and tunnels. But, I also know that I could not do justice to one big part of Quakerism: I am just not a pacifist.

I wish I lived in a world where I could be with a clear conscious, but when I think of what some lawless, oppressive, wicked leaders could have done, would have done, unchecked without violent opposition at times...no, sorry. (I also believe in self-defense. See what a bad Quaker I would make?)

I do strongly believe in balance though and I believe in everything there is a season. There are times we should be peaceful and times when we should not. I believe that we need people who so believe in peace that they would willing give their lives without violence if it came to that and those who believe it is worth giving their lives in protecting those who cannot (or will not) defend themselves from violence (as contrary as that may sound to you). Both to me are equally noble and honored.

Pen Wilcock said...

Thank you, Julia - I must read that.

Hi seekingmyLord: I know what you mean! But bringing violence to meet violence makes violence ubiquitous and victorious. It is not the flower and fruit of violence but the roots that must be addressed if it is to be eradicated: and than cannot be done by the application of violence. But I understand and respect your view, and I think I will make a bad Quaker too, because I have a fine temper, and take very unkindly to cruelty and injustice, especially when it is done to those who are helpless.

Buzzfloyd said...

I think there may also sometimes be a problem with the application of the term 'violence'. If someone attacked my child, you can bet I would do everything in my power to stop them, probably starting with the use of physical force, which goes against true pacifism. But I don't think it would be appropriate to describe a mother's defence of her child as 'violence'.

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Buzz! This is such a complex issue, isn't it! I would take the view that a mother must defend her child. But I can see that there are non-violent routes one might take to do that. For example, I remember an incident where a teacher was mean to a child at a school where your dad worked. The child went home & told the parent, who came up to the school in a rage ready to hit the teacher, in defence of the child. Because the teacher was an antagonistic type, likely to inflame the situation by provoking the parent, ending in actual physical confrontation, your dad was asked to step in and deal with things. He spoke courteously and gently to the angry parent, and asked to hear their point of view. He sorted the matter out fairly, and they parted good friends. No-one got hit.
What I'm saying is that the defence of a child, or any other potentially violent situation, might be defused, avoided, or negotiated, with physical force as a last resort.
Knowing myself, whatever IO may think about pacifism I suspect that like you I would use force to defend a child. But hand in hand with that I would seek to change society by addressing the roots of violence. Violent people arise from violent contexts, and seeking to stop them by violence, even in defence of a child, may both solve the short-term problem and compound the longterm one.