As we send this February newsletter, I’m reflecting on hospitality.
This past month, as some in power have called for walls and bans—and many more have raised voices and hands to oppose them—our faith’s commitment to welcoming the sacred through welcoming the stranger feels more important than ever. In my home meeting in Putney, Vermont Friends often recall the deep commitment of our departed Friend Hattie Reeves-Forsythe: hospitality is the basis of spirituality.
Participating in the women’s marches, supporting Islamic prayers in Copley Square in Boston, reaching out to refugees locally and participating in demonstrations at airports across our region, our wider community of faith has been living this truth, affirming life-giving relationship in the face of fear and all that would divide us as Children of Earth.
When we affirm relationships with our neighbors, our ways of seeing and acting change. We come to feel the harm done to even those who might seem far removed from us affecting us more profoundly as well. We come to see a little more clearly the ways we are all connected—not just in principle, but in the particularity of practice. The reality of the divine Life present in each one ministers to us, and is transmitted through us. Many of us know from experience how this can lead us to act for justice and healing in courageous and concrete ways, and sustain us for the path ahead.
This month’s issue of the email newsletter makes visible some of the ways the Spirit is leading Friends to share this core truth.
In November, I was blessed to join a group of six New England Friends who were welcomed as guests at the water protector camps on the Missouri River in North Dakota. Standing at the sacred fire; carrying a banner, minutes and letters from New England; we spoke about how paying attention to the faithful witness of one community can stir the conscience and the hearts of another. I believe the spiritual power expressed by the Native communities leading the nonviolent resistance at Standing Rock and beyond offers to teach us as Quakers something profound about aligning our lives with the imperatives of justice and wholeness at this time in history.
In these tumultuous days, may we continue to turn toward our neighbors, toward one another, and so toward God. May our faith be renewed through radical acts of spiritual hospitality. May we challenge one another daily to open our hearts, our meeting communities, and our lives to embrace a wider welcome for all, even as we are welcomed home by the Spirit against which walls and bans will never ultimately stand. May we stay humble, love fiercely, and keep our hearts teachable.
Please keep sharing your news of how Truth prospers among us.
In faith and service,
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends
P.S.: Speaking of Friends serving Love through opening ourselves to deeper relationship, here’s a late-breaking report from one traveling Friend on last weekend’s Vassalboro Quarterly Meeting in Maine.