What Is Worship?

Prologue

What follows was originally intended to be shared with a small circle of fellow Quakers. But as the writing unfolded, it took on a more general relevance, which is why it’s now appearing here. An earlier post, Two Roads, traces the ongoing influence of my Quaker family background. Another post, Medicine Wheels for Story Orphans, explores the evocative similarities between the lives of George Fox (who founded the Religious Society of Friends), J.R.R. Tolkien (who wrote The Lord of the Rings), and Carl Jung (whose Red Book is discussed below).

For those unfamiliar with Quaker ways, and especially with the unprogrammed branch of the Quaker family tree, meetings for worship last about an hour and are mostly silent. Now and then a Friend may offer a brief inspirational message. These sharings are often called vocal ministry.

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The Lofty Chronicles: 8

This continues an ongoing series of posts about a young girl growing up
and pursuing child-led learning at Light Morning. The series begins here

with an introduction. Links to the other posts in the series are here.

A few notes about the following journal entries: Lauren has asked everyone to call her Lofty. In my journal I sometimes use one name and sometimes the other, and she herself sometimes goes back and forth between the two. / We’re a common table community, meaning that we take all our meals together in the community shelter. / We’re also off-grid, so we heat and cook with wood and use kerosene lamps for light.

Tracing Gender Lines

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The Lofty Chronicles: 7

This continues an ongoing series of posts about a young girl growing up
and pursuing child-led learning at Light Morning. The series begins here

with an introduction. Links to the other posts in the series are here.

One of Lofty’s drawings

The Old Paths

Bedtime Stories (Friday, 7 February 1992) Last April (here) I listed the books that Joyce, Lauren, and I had been reading aloud as bedtime stories. Here’s what we’ve read together since then.

Gifts of Unknown Things, Watson
Star Wars, Lucas
The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas et al
The Return of the Jedi, ibid
A Wizard of Earthsea, LeGuinn
The Tombs of Atuan, ibid
The Farthest Shore, ibid
Treasure Island, Stevenson
The Adventures of Robin Hood
Afternoon of the Elves, Lisle
George Washington Carver, Holt
Carver’s George, Means
Oversoul Seven and the Museum of Time, Roberts
A Swiftly Tilting Planet, L’Engle

Continue reading The Lofty Chronicles: 7

The Lofty Chronicles: 6

This continues an ongoing series of posts about a young girl growing up
and pursuing child-led learning at Light Morning. The series begins here

with an introduction. Links to the other posts in the series are here.

On Loan From the Universe

Our neighbors Doris and Harry

A New Kind of Family (Thursday, 5 December 1991) A passing impression this evening of life in the emerging Light Morning form of family. After supper, Joyce went to a village meeting at the Institute for Sustainable Living and Marlene went to a weekly gathering at our neighbors Harry and Doris. The rest of us are sitting around our off-grid community shelter which is lit by kerosene lamps.

Adam’s in the kitchen reading the current issue of Harrowsmith. Ron’s by the wood-stove studying a book about dreams. I’m on the couch with an old issue of Whole Earth Review. Lauren is sitting on Tom’s lap in the rocking chair, listening to stories about his youth, for which she seems to have an insatiable appetite and which Tom loves to share. Everything’s warm and cozy and family.

Continue reading The Lofty Chronicles: 6

The Lofty Chronicles: 5

This continues an ongoing series of posts about a young girl growing up
and pursuing child-led learning at Light Morning. The series begins here

with an introduction. Links to the other posts in the series are here.

The Irony of Pinocchio

Sage and Lauren with marigolds

You Can’t Just Say No (Monday, 2 September 1991) Our new grain grinder has just arrived. It’s an expensive machine whose large flywheel should make it much easier for us to convert wheat berries into whole wheat flour. Even seven-year-old Lauren can crank the handle with no trouble. She’s thrilled to finally be able to grind flour with the rest of us.

Unfortunately, the output is far below both our expectations and the claims of the manufacturer. After seeing how little flour it seems to produce, we use a timer and a measuring cup to run some trials between our older, harder to crank machine and the new one. The results clearly show that the new grinder will have to be returned.

Our daughter, however, has not been included in this decision-making process. Lauren’s eyes fill with tears when she learns that we’re going to ship back the beautiful new machine she’s been using to help make flour. All our reasons and statistics are meaningless to her. We who value making communal decisions by consensus have acted as though consensus is for adults only, thereby disenfranchising the littlest member of our community. We have, in effect, become a bunch of neighborhood bullies.

Continue reading The Lofty Chronicles: 5

An Unintended Leave of Absence

Bob Dylan, 1964

After having posted here each Wednesday for 56 weeks, my well-established habit unraveled. I lay the blame for this lapse squarely at the feet of Bob Dylan. Having recently completed “A Sword In My Side,” the synchronicity-laced account of my first 10-day Vipassana meditation course (which begins here), I turned to “The Lofty Chronicles,” a series of stories about child-led learning in the early pioneering days of Light Morning (which begins here).

In April, however, I was seduced by a treacherous impulse. In one of those predawn moments of seeming lucidity, I was given the title for another post: “Practicing Vipassana at the Gates of Eden.” It was to be a deeper exploration of why I sit for meditation each day and would utilize lyrics from “Gates of Eden,” a surreal song Bob Dylan wrote in 1964. Instead, the impulse led me down a rabbit hole of hallucinatory lyrics, multiple drafts, and missed deadlines.

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The Lofty Chronicles: 4

This continues an ongoing series of posts about a young girl growing up
and pursuing child-led learning at Light Morning. The series begins here.

Gifts and Abilities

Lauren, Claire, Myra

A Small Space (Friday, 12 July 1991) It’s close to suppertime and we’re nearing the end of a long day. As we pick up the community shelter’s living room, Lauren’s in a rambunctious mood. Joyce finally says, “This is too small a space for hopscotch or for jump-rope…”

“Or for sermons!” Lauren adds, deftly finishing Joyce’s sentence for her.

We all laugh. Even Joyce has the grace to grin.

Continue reading The Lofty Chronicles: 4

The Lofty Chronicles: 3

This continues an ongoing series of posts about a young girl growing up
and pursuing child-led learning at Light Morning. The series begins here.

Lofty Brown

Lauren at the treadle sewing machine

Lauren’s Stories (Monday, 1 April 1991) It occurs to me to list the books we’ve been reading aloud in the evenings before bedtime over the past several years. Joyce and I have enjoyed this ritual for most of our married life, but the following books are the ones we’ve shared with Lauren since she first started paying attention to the stories when she was three. Now she’s about to turn seven.

Humans have an innate need for stories. Radio and television meet much of this need currently. But since Joyce and I have never had a TV, we resorted to the intermediate technology of books. Prior to literacy was the long and arguably richer oral tradition of storytelling.

Continue reading The Lofty Chronicles: 3