from the Quaker Advices and Queries

1. Take heed, dear Friends, to the promptings of love and truth in your hearts. Trust them as the leadings of God whose Light shows us our darkness and brings us to new life.

I’ve mulled those two sentence over for a couple of days. I want to say something but am hesitant to detract in my attempt to expound. All the same, here’s my sort of midrash; the way I “Take heed.”

I often think about my heart. Like Jonah, I try to make sense of it. I want an image: pumping organ, electric muscle. But more often all I sense is a presence amorphic, inscrutable, clear as mud. (As you see, even my adjectives want to be anchored to a body of earth.)

There is a line in the liturgy…the priest sings: “Lift up your hearts,” and the people respond: “We lift them up to the Lord.” I sometimes see my heart in my hands. It is small and not strong. A little withered and dark. But it is what I have to offer and so I hold it up. What comes back to me has shape and strength. In the place of my impenetrable self are the whole bodies of people I have been given to love, who love me far better.

New life is never a solitary endeavor. The lexicons we use take us only so far. Love, God, Light—the words themselves are bodies leading us to better encounter each other. “Be kind,” an unknown source (maybe Philo of Alexandria) once said, “for everyone is fighting a great battle.” My friend E in New Mexico knows that. She called me this week. My sisters in Kansas, my mother and father do. I feel the prayers of my godmother. The presence of dear ones near and physically far from me. They are the leadings. They are light. “Take heed, dear Friends…”

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