Ministry with Portfolio

 Pilgrimage  Comments Off on Ministry with Portfolio
Jun 132012

It’s an odd heading, and the content may be equally odd for those who are not Quakers.  If you google “Quaker Ministry” you may find helpful sites.

My concern is that, at least in the Meeting I usually go to, there is an insistence that it is not appropriate to turn up at Sunday Meeting for Worship with Ministry you have prepared earlier.  The idea is that Quakers should speak ‘from the heart’, being led by the Spirit to speak.  There is a suspicion that coming prepared is a sign of not speaking in the Spirit.

But a consequence of being strict about this would be that we have no chance to hear carefully prepared thoughts and we are less likely to hear complicated thoughts.

Now it is true that Quakers have a commitment to living simply.  But if we are to let our lives speak in the real world we must take account of the fact that the real world is devilishly complicated.  (I am using words carefully here.)  Sometimes a truly spiritual response to that worldly complication will only be possible after some careful preparation.

The insistence on spontaneous ministry seems to deny the possibility that the Spirit may be leading us during our detailed preparations, and not just as we deliver our ministry to a gathered Meeting.

Let’s keep it as simple as possible, but sometimes we need Ministry with Portfolio.

 Posted by at 14:30

The Baggage

 Pilgrimage  Comments Off on The Baggage
Jun 132012

What sort of baggage do we have?

  • Old injuries and resentments which should have been forgiven and forgotten.
  • Old triumphs and delights which should have been used to establish new triumphs, not just as laurels to rest on.
  • Cosmetics to prepare a face to meet the faces that I meet.  Gloss and glitter to avoid the world seeing how little there really is.
  • Tools – for example, in my case, the skill to do project planning – things that may be useful to me or to others.
  • Essentials such as a few vital relationships, my health and solvency.
 Posted by at 01:48

A Handbag!!??

 Pilgrimage  Comments Off on A Handbag!!??
Jun 132012

I remember a boss I once had whose idea of a team meeting was to lecture us for a solid two hours with no opportunities for replies or comments.  As I was leaving one of these sessions one of the team spoke to me.

“You know what his problem is, Robin?  He has a mind like a woman’s handbag.”

“A handbag?” I asked, like Lady Bracknell.

“Yes, a handbag.  It’s always with him.  It’s full of a load of old crud: lots of dust and scraps of paper, a few bits of colourful fluff.  It contains a few pieces really valuable jewellery and some useful items like keys.  But 95 percent of it is cosmetics.”

That cheered me up.  For a 1.729 seconds at least.

 Posted by at 01:42

A Pilgrimage

 Pilgrimage  Comments Off on A Pilgrimage
Jun 132012

I have decided to go on a pilgrimage.  However, because I am a cumbersome and physically lazy man, I intend to go on a virtual pilgimage.  It takes less effort than walking to Rome on bare feet and it is less risky than going to Jerusalem.

But I do intend to make an effort.

I think the pilgrimage will have four stages.

1 – HERMIT the FROG.  One of my besetting sins is my tendency to be alone, not to seek help or fellowship.  I understand the processes that led me to this state.  I’m alone and isolated.  But I’ve had many years to get used to isolation.  It has its comforts.  I like it.

2 – THE STATIC PILGRIM.  At first I will be a pilgrim who isn’t changing very much.  He’s just trying to work out what changes might be needed, or desirable.  He also needs to decide what to pack for the journey.  (See “Baggage”.)

3 – THE EX-STATIC PILGRIM.  Once I’ve worked out some basics and got a sense of direction I can get moving and change.  I will no longer be static, I’ll be ex-static.

4 – THE ECSTATIC PILGRIM.  Then, as I start to make progress, I will become stronger and more capable.  Eventually I will reach the holy place I search for, or at least get near to it.  And that will be ecstasy.

 Posted by at 01:33

Planning is bad for the soul

 Work  Comments Off on Planning is bad for the soul
Jan 132012

When I started the sixth form (senior high school in the States?) we had an initial pep-talk from the Headmaster.  (He was a good, but rather formidable man called Mr Orchard.)  He told us how to gain from the greater freedom of senior school.

One of his points has stayed with me for fifty years: “Some pupils make detailed plans for their work and revision.  The rest just get on and do it.”

It has often struck me since that planning – something I am good at – can easily get in the way of productivity.  As deadlines loom there is a temptation to devise an even better plan, to cope with the shrinking time available.  I would spend a couple of days producing a beautiful plan, with colour charts and diagrams.  But once that is over, time seems even shorter, so an even more urgent plan becomes necessary.

I exaggerate, of course, but it can become a habit and a good way of avoiding real work.

 Posted by at 16:39