Report from Cadiz
Sunday, July 2, 2006 at 01:49PM
Marshall Massey in A Long Listen, Appointed Meetings

The route from Pendleton to Cadiz (pronounced “CAD-iz”) was a pleasant passage through rural Indiana scenery not particularly different from that which I’d already seen.

At Markleville, more or less the mid-point of the day, I found a place and attempted walking, but quickly found my ankles had taken a turn for the worse since the day before (perhaps I’d overdone it the day before!), and was forced to limit my walking to a mile or so. Another lesson in not getting impatient to walk again!

The Friends church in Cadiz is a wooden structure somewhat more than a century old, with an added meeting/dining room in back. The Friends there had set up a pop-up camper trailer in the back for me to stay in that night (which I was quite touched by), and had arranged for me to meet jointly that night with their own members and the members of New Castle First Friends, a few more miles down the road. After a very nourishing potluck we gathered in a circle, and I was impressed to find sixteen Friends present and ready to join in the discernment process — ten from Cadiz Friends Church and the other six from New Castle.

As usual, I began by speaking briefly about the corporate discernment process and described the two questions I hoped Friends could help me discern answers to.

One Friend began by stating, with some feeling, that we’re using the planet up, and need to take simplicity seriously. We need to look at our own lives.

A Friend said that we can do little things in our own lives to help. His own family, he said, mulches their newspapers, burns junk mail in the stove, drives Geos that get fifty miles per gallon, have solar panels on the house, and uses no pesticides.

A Friend stated that, insofar as Friends are divided on environmental issues, it’s not so much about what to do as why. We shouldn’t be looking to do things because science tells us to. Whenever Friends have divorced a testimony from the Spirit of Christ, the Presence of the living Christ, their efforts have failed.

It was noted that some Friends believe we are living in the End Times, and therefore the environment isn’t important, because God will give us a new Heaven and a new Earth. A Friend commented that while he believes we’re in the End Times, the Bible is still a blueprint for how to take care of the Creation.

A Friend suggested that maybe greenhouse warming is not because of human activities but because the Earth is wobbling on its axis and the poles are shifting.

A Friend declared that “You have to be willing to bear witness (to what’s right). We’re supposed to be stewards of this planet. The protesting we did against the building of a nuclear power plant was something we did in order to be good stewards.”

A Friend cited the first two chapters of the book of Ezekiel, in which God says to the prophet, “I’m sending you to a rebellious people who will not listen.” Looking at our numbers, the Friend said, there’s probably not enough of us (Friends) to make a big difference in the world. But Ezekiel goes on to say that whether or not the rebellious people listen is not the prophet’s concern. Sometimes we have to concentrate on being faithful, not on being successful.

A Friend observed that people may know what’s right and still not do it. They may see it modeled and still not do it. We’re kidding ourselves if we think we can reach everyone.

A Friend stated that the testimony we’re called to is to be stewards. We each have an individual responsibility.

A Friend spoke of the common grounds on which Friends can unite. There are a lot of pathways into such a common ground, he said. For example, one path is the call to serve God, not Mammon — not using the environment for commercial gain. Another path is finding that of God in everyone, which leads us to consider who is harmed by the mistreatment of the environment.

A Friend suggested that we might do better if we get beyond science and ask what harmony with the Creation means at other levels.

A Friend suggested that maybe Friends would do better at developing a common testimony if we were to focus on just one or two areas where we feel the strongest calling.

A Friend stated that it all comes back to our relationship with God. As Isaiah 6 teaches us, it’s when we see the Lord that we know how to move forward. All the disasters that have happened lately make him wonder: are we listening? When we see it as a divine call, that’s when we’ll do it.

A Friend observed that each of the existing testimonies has an environnmental dimension. The peace testimony addresses violence against nature. Integrity points to the interconnectedness of all life. If we can show the connection between environmental matters and things Friends already agree on, it’s a start.

A Friend spoke of the necessity of finding common ground.

A Friend said that we need to take love-based action, not fear-based action. We’re not called as a Society to react, but to act from a deeper place.

A Friend observed that there’s a question of how much we’re willing to sacrifice.

A Friend suggested that the old tradition of queries should be revived for the environment.

At the conclusion of this meeting, we were joined by Charlotte Wood-Harrington, a Friend from Northside Meeting in Chicago who would be walking with me for the next week, and who had gone through a clearness process and obtained a traveling minute from her meeting for this purpose. I will have more to say about this Friend’s company and assistance in later postings! Suffice it to say here that there were introductions all around; and she went home with the pastor of Cadiz Friends to spend the night, while I spent the night in the pop-up camper in back of the church.

It was a very productive called meeting for discernment — and has given me much to ponder.

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