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Faith and Practice

Pacific Yearly Meeting

of the

Religious Society of Friends

a guide to quaker discipline in the experience of pacific yearly meeting of the religious society of friends.
published 2001

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iii: testimony and experience of friends

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Living Our Faith

pym in context
quaker faith & spiritual practice
testimony & experience of friends
organization of the society
activities & organization of the YM
sources of quotations
index of sources
subject index

We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of Friends who have permitted us to use material for this Faith and Practice.



84 There was a care on my mind so to pass my time that nothing might hinder me from the most steady attention to the voice of the true shepherd.

john woolman

85 True simplicity consists not in the use of particular forms, but in foregoing over-indulgence, in maintaining humility of spirit, and in keeping the material surroundings of our lives directly serviceable to necessary ends, even though these surroundings may properly be characterized by grace, symmetry, and beauty.

philadelphia yearly meeting, 1927

86 We especially admonish our younger members against college societies whose proceedings are hedged with secrecy. … The Society of Friends is opposed to ceremonialism … and the exclusiveness of secret societies gives to the fellowship which they promote a flavor of selfishness.

new england yearly meeting, 1930

87 Most of us need from time to time the experience of something spacious or space-making, when Time ceases to be the enemy, goad-inhand, and becomes our friend. To read good literature, gaze on natural beauty, to follow cultivated pursuits until our spirits are refreshed and expanded, will not unfit us for the ups and downs of life, whether of personal or church affairs. Rather will it help us to separate the essential from the unessential, to know where we are really needed and get a sense of proportion. We shall find ourselves giving the effect of leisure even in the midst of a full and busy life. People do not pour their joys or sorrows into the ears of those with an eye on the clock.

caroline graveson, 1937

88 I wish I might emphasize how a life becomes simplified when dominated by faithfulness to a few concerns. Too many of us have too many irons in the fire. … And we learn to say No as well as Yes by attending to the guidance of inner responsibility. Quaker simplicity needs to be expressed not merely in dress and architecture and the height of tombstones but also in the structure of a relatively simplified and coordinated life-program of social responsibilities.

thomas r. kelly, 1941

89 … over the margins of life comes a whisper, a faint call, a premonition of richer living which we know we are passing by. Strained by the very mad pace of our daily outer burdens, we are further strained by an inward uneasiness, because we have hints that there is a way of life vastly richer and deeper than all this hurried existence, a life of unhurried serenity and peace and power. If only we could slip over into that Center! … There is a divine Abyss within us all, a holy Infinite Center, a Heart, a Life who speaks in us and through us to the world.

thomas r. kelly, 1941

90 Why with all our labor-saving devices and fast transport, are we so short of time? Is it because we are greedy of experience for its own sake?— to see more, go farther, earn more, learn more, than is feasible in one short lifetime? The human soul needs time, needs to take time, unless experience is to become mere accumulation, bearing bad fruit, like any other kind of ambition.

mildred binns young, 1966

91 One of the signs of spiritual growth is the simplification of life. This does not mean that daily routines cease, although inconsequential items do become less insistent.What counts is not so much concerned with outer complexities as with the inner conglomeration of desires, thoughts and aspirations that confuse and irritate the mind. When the center of consciousness becomes well established, this welter of mental distraction living our faith testimony and experience diminishes. The wayward themes seem to become harmonized; impulses relate themselves to a total pattern. … When the Inner Light shines brightly nothing can intercept that steady beam. It is not necessary to adjust the vision. It just happens.

josephine whitney duveneck