The Flame in the Heart

This is a post which I put onto our local Quaker Meeting site a couple of months ago but which seems very apt for today, Easter Sunday.My thoughts, recently, have been with the three close friends who have died or are dying at this time.  Thinking of how to comfort them and the bereaved has concentrated my thoughts on the ideas and images that the established churches use for comfort: heaven, afterlife, “walking with Jesus”, etc.  I found the following very helpful: (Quaker Faith & Practice 21.57 Jenifer Faulkener, 1982) “I still fight the conventional words of “resurrection and life everlasting” but I know that after Jesus died the overwhelming certainty of his presence released his disciples from fear. I believe eternal life is in each moment of life, here and now; the real tragedy is not how or when we die but if we do not live the life we are given to our full potential.

Early Quakers had conceived “that of God” within everyone; the teacher had come to teach his people himself.  Many saw this concept as referring to the second coming, promised by Jesus; and there were many broken bones and skulls amongst Friends who suggested that at the time  Now it is a much more generally accepted concept.  I find it helpful to envisage “that of God” as a flame – think candle flame, a flame that lives in, and lights, our Spirit.  A flame in the heart.

When we experience and give love, sympathy, empathy, care and concern, and when we see the beauty of landscapes, music, poetry; these experiences bring oxygen to the flame and it grows. There are some people who demonstrate how the flame can become more like a cosy fire glowing in the hearth, so that when you come in from the cold they provide warmth and comfort.  It is amazing to recognise that glow of Godly light even in people in the most difficult of circumstances, in the rubble of Palestine or Syria and the dusty villages of drought inflicted Africa.  However some people are denied love, feel no sympathy or empathy, have no one showing care or concern and their flame is starved of oxygen until it becomes the weakest glow stuttering on an otherwise stinking wick.

War and terror cannot solve problems, they only exacerbate them.  Our Quaker belief in “that of God”  in everyone is extended to accept that killing, maiming, terrorising, depriving anyone does that to “that of God”.   The Quaker testimonies of peace, equality, simplicity and honesty are not nice sounding targets to aim for, rather they are the only way that we can relate to “that of God” in everyone.

What’s it all about, Alfie?

It’s Collette O’Neil’s fault.  Colette has published a blog for quite a long time about the 3 acre site that is her home and her obsession.  She bought a marshy square of wasteland and, mainly by planting trees and working the land using the permaculture  way, turned it into a highly productive ecology which supplies all her needs.  I have received her blog via an RSS link into my inbox for well over 3 years.  It does my soul good!  However, it was difficult to comment on her blog because that demanded a Worpress account, and the user name and password for my site was never recognised by WordPress on her site.  Colette has just opened a new, private blog, and, as I wanted to interact with that blog too, I needed a new account.  So here it is. It seems a good idea to develop this as a blog and learn a lot more about blogging and about creating the site than I knew before.

We already have a site to promote our holiday cottage in the beautiful Elan Valley, but this blog will explore some of my other interests including political comment, spirituality and art.