I’ve heard that there’s nothing new under the sun, and that’s certainly true of Minding the Light. Our Collective Journal is a recent offshoot from a river of Light that Quakers have drawn from and written about for centuries. Here’s what I know of the story.
When I came to West Hills over 20 years ago, my faith in God was based largely on personal experience, and I was thrilled to hear the story of George Fox’s journey. I, too, had experienced a religious crisis. I, too, had found little comfort in theology and “priestly” answers to my questions. I, too, had experienced Christ as Present Teacher. But I had never heard the beautiful Quaker testimony that God communicates with everyone, and I didn’t know that “mystical” experience is common among Quakers.
Years later, I cried for joy as I read John Woolman’s journal for the first time, so thankful for the gift of his stories. It was edifying to read about his discernment process. And it was thrilling to learn that he followed the Light in dreams and experienced the Light as a “motion of love.”
In the Light reflected from John Woolman’s journal, I saw that stories of others’ interactions with God are a priceless source of knowledge about God and one another.
Once I had recognized the importance of God stories, I felt a deep sense of loss that the Quaker practice of journaling had been abandoned. In the present, the Light from our personal stories was hidden under a bushel. I rarely shared my God stories with others, and others rarely shared theirs with me. I wondered how many beautiful stories had been lost to us.
Friend Julie had been nudging me to start doing a newsletter again, and one night I dreamed: Julie and I were walking somewhere, and she asked me about stories I’d written. I said, “My stories are still in my mind, floating around like flotsam and jetsam.” The next morning, I saw Julie at the Craft Faire, and she asked me again about doing the newsletter. These two events connected the dots between the newsletter and the stories under the bushel, and a vision began to form.
When I talked to Mike about the idea of a collective journal, he loved it. Way opened, and a new offshoot from the river of Light began to flow.
Our vision for Minding the Light reflects John Woolman’s vision for his visit to the Indians in 1759. “Love was the first motion, and then a concern arose to spend some time with the Indians, that I might feel and understand their life and the spirit they live in, if haply I might receive some instruction from them, or they be in any degree helped forward by my following the leadings of Truth among them.”
May we listen humbly and expectantly for the Light reflected in others’ God stories, so that we might understand the spirit they live in and receive instruction from them and follow the leadings of Truth in them. As John Woolman’s stories have been carried to us on the river of Light, may our stories be carried to others who hunger for news of God’s presence in the world. – Sally Gillette