Illumination

We started our worship this morning with the well-loved hymn, “Tell Me the Story of Jesus.” It is a fitting beginning to our Advent season, I think, reminding us of the awe-inspiring reality of God’s love and continual presence with us. The first verse says, Tell me the story of Jesus, write on my heart […]

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A Blessed and Blessing People

The thankful season is upon us, as we make our shopping lists and get ready to cook the Thanksgiving feasts that are traditional for our families. Along with our favorite holidays come a big set of familiar expectations. We know who likes cranberry sauce and who doesn’t; who prefers apple pie to pumpkin; which grandchild […]

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From All Limits, Free

In looking through some files this morning (trying to find something for a training I need to facilitate tomorrow), I ran across this reflection written a while back for a memorable hospice patient. This post is dedicated to a gentle Japanese man who was seemingly alone in the world, with no family, no friends, and language and […]

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A Common Bond

Early last week I cleaned my 29-gallon aquarium, draining roughly half the water, using a razor blade to scrape the algae off the sides of the tank, replanting the plants that my Plecostomus—who is 17 years old and 10 inches long—continually uproots. I refilled the tank with clean water and scrubbed the filter, repositioned the […]

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The Way of Quaker Saints

I hope you had an enjoyable Halloween and celebrated it in the way that felt right to you. Some people in recent years have stopped passing out candy—it’s expensive and with COVID there was a chance you could pass along more than Snickers bars. I have never been a big Halloween person myself, but I […]

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Remaking the World

Have you ever noticed how many different versions of the world there seem to be? There was the world you left behind for a little while when you slipped off to sleep last night. And the world you woke up to this morning as you stretched and opened your eyes. There’s the world we experience […]

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Made of Clay

Two weeks ago, on a Thursday evening, I did something I’ve never done before; something I’ve always wanted to do. I went to my first pottery class. I wasn’t sure what to expect and I was prepared to look and feel a little silly, because I was a complete beginner. I didn’t know how to […]

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The Measure of Love

“That is how life can work, as God created it. We all fit together in a great and beloved community where one person’s gift fits another’s need and so there is no lack, no hunger, no division, no jealousy, no hate… It’s not such a far-fetched idea: all the trees around us are doing it right now. When we let God’s love inspire our actions in the world, our true and soulful colors will begin to show through. Our world can—even now–be transformed.”

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Patterns of Light

The idea for our message this week came when I was having a conversation with a friend at hospice about family patterns. As we talked, all of a sudden I understood some things in my own life differently. It was like someone had flipped a light switch: I thought of the way I was at […]

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God-with-Us: Stories of Faith

It’s so good to have you all with us on World Quaker Day! All over the world just now, on different continents and in different time zones, Quakers are gathering together and celebrating and sharing the essence of the growing faith that animates and unfolds our lives. If you are new to Quakerism, you might […]

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A Present Good

Do you have any kind of gratitude practice in your life? Some people make it a point, just before they drift off to sleep at night, to name three things that happened during the day they feel thankful for. Others keep a running gratitude list or they may just simply do their best to be […]

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Overruling Fear

Today is a sad and somber day, and it probably always will be. The 9-11 Memorial services are going on now, as family members read the names of the loved ones they’ve lost and continue to grieve, and firefighters ring the bell commemorating each precious life. Every September 11th I feel echoes of the sadness, […]

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Cleanliness and Godliness

Sometimes our messages are inspired by lofty moments—a breathtaking sunrise, a deeply kind gesture, a moment of peace that is so perfect it simply must be God. Today’s message is not one of those. Today’s message comes to you courtesy of Mike’s Car Wash. This week I noticed that my car was carrying much of […]

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The Thing about Grace

Do you remember a time as a kid when you thought you were going to get in Big Trouble for something—maybe a bad grade or a broken window or accidentally causing your little sister to trip and fall—but instead of anger and punishment, you were met with understanding? Or perhaps there was a time when […]

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The Power of the Word

Did you know that we speak an average of 16,000 words per day? Men and women alike, we use words for everything: we say good morning, we order coffee, we talk to the clerk at the store, we explain to the librarian what we’re looking for. We talk to each other, we talk to strangers, […]

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Let Your Light Shine

When you think back over the last week, how much of God’s light do you think you shared with others? How often did you feel it yourself? We rarely think of looking at life that way or gauging the success of our days based on how often we smiled, how many times we were kind, […]

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Quaker Morning Dawns (again)

Good morning, Friends! I felt inspired to begin posting brief daily reflections on our Quaker Morning page again yesterday and just wanted to let you all know. There isn’t really a game plan for these mini-podcasts; I simply want to share the ideas that bubble up during my quiet time at the start of the […]

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A Peace That Lasts

I’d like to start off this morning with a kind of informal survey. Raise your hand if you are able, perhaps fairly regularly, to have a completely peaceful day. Okay, leave your hand up if you are able to experience peace two or three days in a row. How about a week? Is there anyone […]

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Food Is Love

I went to the State Fair yesterday with my son Christopher and daughter-in-law Ashley. It was an absolutely beautiful morning for it. We enjoyed all the animals and the displays—and discovered a big white ribbon on my son’s photography entry, which made us all happy. And of course, there was the food: I had a […]

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Rest and Restoration

Sitting here just now, do you feel rested this morning? For much of our lives, many of us have a fairly complicated relationship with the idea of rest. When we are young, we don’t really want to rest. There’s too much to do, too many games to play, fireflies to catch, baseballs to throw, friends […]

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The House Forgiveness Builds

Have you ever thought about how we create things in our lives? We create from the inside, out. Everything begins with an idea…maybe something we want to make, like chocolate chip cookies; or build, like a new shelf. The idea pops into our head and we think, “Huh, that sounds interesting, I wonder if I […]

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Waiting on God

Isn’t it hard to wait for an answer to prayer? Especially when it’s an answer you really, really need. Maybe you’ve got a big decision to make and you aren’t sure which way to go. Or you are worried about someone you love and need to know—the sooner, the better—that things will be okay. It’s […]

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The Gifts of Failing

Have you ever really failed at something? Like really failed. Took a chance, tried something new, fell completely on your face? The small private things we fail at—maybe several of those every week, things like sticking to a diet or giving up almost immediately on something new we said we’d do—those are hard enough. But […]

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Christ Along the Way

Scholarship Sunday, June 26, 2022 Our Old Testament reading for today is a welcome reminder that no matter how things might look in a given moment, God is always about the work of restoration and renewal: “See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making […]

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Ways to Pray

When you were little, did you say prayers when you went to bed each night? Maybe your mom or dad said them with you, or you might have prayed by yourself in the quiet of your room. Every night I prayed that little prayer we probably all know by heart: Now I lay me down […]

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Joyful Murmurations

Last Monday on my way to the hospital, against the soft blue and gold of the morning sky, I saw two different murmurations. Seemed like a miracle—or a message. So beautiful! And mysterious. In case you don’t remember what a murmuration is, it is a big, flowing flock of birds—starlings, scientists say, in groups sometimes […]

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The Other Side of Grievance

Today’s message is about forgiveness and how the lack of it can limit us, blind us, maybe even make us sick. How grievances, large and small, held and nourished maybe silently in our hearts, keep us from growing closer to God and to one another. The good news is that God has provided, does provide, […]

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Taming the Wild

Yesterday afternoon, when it had warmed up enough for gardening, I spent a good long while carefully combing through a flower bed out back, trying to pull the wild strawberry plants out of the Dianthus. I don’t begrudge the strawberries their exuberance—they have lovely green leaves, sunny yellow flowers, and bright red berries—but they are […]

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For One Another

This week I’ve been thinking about why we do the things we do, personally and collectively. There are lots of reasons, of course, lots of motivations, many causes—seen and unseen—that contribute to us being the people we are, making the choices we make, and creating the lives we live. But there’s also something more than […]

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Restful Moments

How long did it take you to learn how to rest? Resting is something I was never very good at—even as a little girl, I would stay outside playing as long as there was a tiny bit of light in the sky. I remember a few times in elementary school being so worn out after […]

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The Mothering Spirit

What is your favorite memory of your mom? Maybe it had something to do with baking cookies, or nighttime prayers, or a time you really made her laugh. One of my sweetest, happiest memories with my mom is just a little snapshot in my mind, as she and I walked together in downtown Indianapolis one […]

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Love’s Everyday Miracles

How many kindnesses did you experience this week? Did someone let you go first in line when your arms were full of groceries? Or give you the right of way in traffic when you didn’t really deserve it? Or maybe a kindly person bought you coffee or lunch or sent you a card or otherwise […]

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Signs and Wonders

Last week, on Easter Sunday, we heard the miraculous story of the women’s encounter with the angels at the tomb—how these mysterious men dressed in clothes that gleamed like lightning told them, “He is not here! He has risen, just as he said!” We heard how the women hurried excitedly back to where the disciples […]

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Rise and Shine!

Well, Friends, God has surprised us yet again. Just when we thought all was lost, the world was falling apart, all the goodness we had hoped for and counted on was nailed to a cross; just when everything looked dark and all our best efforts came to nothing, God surprised us. Just when we were […]

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Song of a New Day

One early morning this week, while it was still dark, I went outside to fill the birder feeders and was met with what I can only describe as “riotous” song. I couldn’t believe how loud the birds were! And there were so many different melodies. And they all—hundreds of them—sounded so close and so clear […]

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The Rest of the Story

Over the last decade or so, I’ve gotten fairly used to the idea that some people are glad to see the chaplain coming and some aren’t. Sometimes I show up on the scene and people look at me with a combination of fear and horror, as though my arrival means things are worse than they […]

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Temptation’s Antidote

If you had to take a guess, what would you think are the three biggest temptations people struggle with on a regular basis? If you’re not sure, or you have trouble of thinking of what might qualify as a temptation in your own life, think about something you regularly chastise yourself for; something you seem […]

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The Growing Season

We had at least two beautiful, sunny, 70-degree days this week and all of nature—at least here in central Indiana—seemed to respond. The grass in my backyard is already greening up. Mornings are full of birdsong. There are buds on the maple tree. The tulip and daffodil shoots in the front garden—which is on the […]

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Wholehearted

When you think of the word wholehearted what comes to mind? Maybe children playing on a beautiful summer day, or an orchestra in full song, an athlete competing, striving for first place, or maybe a person deep in prayer. Wholehearted—whatever we may be doing when we feel that way—has something to do with being “all […]

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A Force for Good

Do you remember that hopeful quote from George Fox where he says he saw an ocean of darkness that was swept over by an infinite ocean of light? We’re just about ready for that big wave of goodness to sweep over our world, aren’t we? This week has been harrowing, with the unprovoked attack by […]

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Friendly Reflections for Lent

Good morning! We wanted to share with you our 2022 Friendly Reflections Calendar for Lent. We invite you to reflect daily with us on these Quaker quotes in the context of world peace. How might each of these seed ideas, planted in our hearts and blossoming in right action, contribute to peace in our lives […]

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What to Do with Silence

This week brings Ash Wednesday in the wider Christian world. It’s a day of prayer and fasting, a day to reflect honestly on our relationship with God, to admit—to ourselves and to God–what we see as sins and shortcomings, and to take inventory of our spiritual lives, to see where we still have work to […]

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Sowing and Reaping

We have been on a rollercoaster of Indiana weather. We had an almost 60-degree day early in the week and that followed 8 inches of snow that had arrived just a few days before that. And almost before we got time to enjoy it, the warm and sunny day was followed by plummeting temperatures, freezing […]

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A Healing Grace

Almost 78 million people in the United States have had COVID since it first appeared in early 2020. More than 918,000 people have died from it in this country alone. Statistically, there’s an average of five people who grieve the loss of each person, which means that on top of that staggering number of deaths, […]

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Yes and No

In a fast-moving world that is full to bursting with opinions and marketing spin, isn’t it a relief to get a clear, yes-or-no answer to a question we care about? The “simple, unvarnished truth”—even if it is something we’d rather not hear—rings true and something within us relaxes when we get the answer. Our hearts […]

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The Song of God

Many years ago, my then 8th’grade son and I drove a frosty four hours north to Kalamazoo, Michigan for an evening of live music. We were both excited about the event; he had received two tickets to hear Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Jazz Center Orchestra live as they made stops across the country on […]

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Two Kinds of Wisdom

In a confusing time, in an overstimulating world, it is no wonder that we often yearn for life to be easier, our path to be clearer, our decisions more obvious. We can feel like there’s so much struggle, we try so hard, we make so much effort, and all that effort may or may not […]

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Consider It Pure Joy

Last week as our Call to Worship I read something William Penn wrote in 1693, and that passage has really stuck with me this week, popping into my head, first thing in the morning, and reminding me to choose moments of peace in the middle of my day. I tried following his simple instructions and […]

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“Aha!” Moments

You may know that Thursday of this past week was what’s known on the Christian calendar as Epiphany, celebrated as the day the Magi arrived to bring their gifts to the infant Jesus. In our New Testament reading today we heard the story. Matthew gives us only a few general ideas about who these men […]

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