A brief overview of how my experience of Quakerism has supported and informed my desire to work towards a simple lifestyle and a sustainable future.
My interest in the environment began when my only reference to Quakerism was Quaker Oats. I was lucky enough to grow up with free access to the fields around my home and it was the joy of playing outside and the limitless possibilities of my tree house that first made me aware of the importance of nature and our connection to it. However, discovering Quakerism in my late teens helped me to understand how I can live that belief more fully.
The Quaker values of equality, peace, truth, simplicity and stewardship for the earth have framed how I address issues of sustainability in my life and academic work. Inspired by the rich history of Quaker activism I feel the importance of letting the way I live speak for my beliefs. At the moment this mostly manifests itself in simple actions such as cycling to school or repairing my clothes. I don’t always succeed and there is always room for improvement.
Aside from attending meetings and hearing the ministry of Friends, the small red book, ‘Quaker Advices and Queries’ has been my main source for understanding the Quaker faith. I find aspects from the following entries of to be particularly inspiring:
A simple lifestyle freely chosen is a source of strength. – No.41
We do not own the world, and its riches are not ours to dispose of at will. Show a loving consideration for all creatures, and seek to maintain the beauty and variety of the world. Work to ensure that our increasing power over nature is used responsibly, with reverence for life. – No.42.
In many ways I feel more connected to the natural world than the idea of God. In my experience, the simplicity of Quaker meetings which are based on silence, gives space for the presence of nature. While sitting in meetings I usually watch how the sunlight moves across the room or focus on flowers on the central table. This is where I find my spiritual centre.
For me Quakerism is a balance of action and reflection which requires both love and gentleness with oneself, other humans and all living things.
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Photograph: Taken by me of Painswick Quaker Meeting House.