Quaker visions of Creation restored

Now I was come up in spirit through the flaming sword, into the paradise of God. All things were new; and all the creation gave unto me another smell than before, beyond what words can utter. I know nothing but pureness, and innocency, and righteousness; being renewed into the image of God by Christ Jesus, to the state of Adam, which he was in before he fell. The creation was opened to me ....

George Fox, Journal, p. 97

So then, there is the sweet communion .... the sweet joy and refreshment in the Lord our righteousness, who causeth righteousness to drop down from heaven, and truth to spring up out of the earth. And so our Father is felt blessing us, blessing our land, blessing our habitations, delighting in us and over us to do us good; and our land yields its increase to the Lord of Life, who hath redeemed it and planted the precious plants and seeds of life in it ....

Give over thine own willing, give over thine own running,give over thine own desiring to know or be anything, and sink down to the seed which God sows in thy heart and let that be in thee, and grow in thee, and breathe in thee, and act in thee, and thou shalt find by sweet experience that the Lord knows that and loves that and owns that, and will lead it to the inheritance of life, which is his own portion.... There is a continual praying unto God. There is a continual blessing and praising of his name, in eating or drinking or whatever else is done.

Isaac Penington (1617-1679)

It would go a great way to caution and direct people in the use of the world, that they were better studied and known in the Creation of it. For how could Man find the Confidence to abuse it, while they shoud see the Great Creator stare them in the face, in all and every part thereof?

William Penn, Some Fruits of Solitude, 1692

...As the mind was moved by an inward principle to love God as an invisible, incomprehensible Being, by the same principle it was moved to love him in all his manifestations in the visible world. That as by his breath the flame of life was kindled in all animal and sensible creatures, to say we love God as unseen and at the same time to exercise cruelty toward the least creature moving by his life or by life derived from him was a contradiction in itself.

John Woolman (1720-1772), Journal (Grummere edition), pp 156-157

Our Gracious Creator cares and provides for all his creatures. His tender mercies are over all his works, and as far as his love influences our minds, so far we become interested in his workmanship and feel a desire to take hold of every opportunity to lessen the distresses of the afflicted and increase the happiness of the creation. Here we have the prospect of one common interest...to turn all that we possess into the channel of universal love becomes the business of our lives.

John Woolman (1720-1772) , A Plea for the Poor or

A Word of Remembrance and Caution to the Rich

I have known landholders who paid Interest for large sums of money, and being intent on paying their debts by raising grain, have by too much tilling, so robbed the earth of its natural fatness, that the produce thereof hath grown light.

To till poor land requires near as much labor as to till that which is rich, and as the high interest of money which lieth on many husbandmen is often a means of their struggling for present profit, to the impoverishment of their lands, they then on their poor land find greater difficulty to afford poor laborers who work for them, equitable pay for tilling the ground.

The produce of the earth is a gift from our gracious Creator to the inhabitants, and to impoverish the earth now to Support outward greatness appears to be an injury to the succeeding age.

John Woolman (1720-1772)
Conversations on the True Harmony of
Mankind and How it May be Promoted

The fulness of the godhead dwelt in every blade of grass.

Elias Hicks (1748-1830), Quoted by D. Elton Trueblood, in West, The Quaker Reader

The Peaceable Kingdom paintings:
They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of God,
as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 11:9

In the foreground, the animals play, wolf and lamb, leopard and kid, calf, lion, and fatling. The cow and the bear are there, and so is the child, with his hand unharmed on the den of the adder. In the middle distance is the living historical expression of this vision -- William Penn standing with the Indians, concluding his treaty of friendship.

T he Peaceable Kingdom, paintings by Edward Hicks (1780-1849),
prints hang in many Quaker meetinghouses
(Description: John Punshon, A Portrait in Grey)

Only when we see that we are part of the totality of the planet, not a superior part with special privileges, can we work effectively to bring about an earth restored to wholeness.

Darkness is no less desirable than light. It is rather, a rich source of creativity... First there is the darkness of the earth in which the seeds wait all through the winter. Second, there is the darkness of the womb in which the young mammal grows into sufficient viability to be born and take its place on earth, as a separate being.... And third, there is the darkness of night, when the garish sun has gone down and the things of earth are blotted out, and we may glimpse the vastness of the universe of which we are part...

We say that God is the Inner Light, but I want to affirm that also the Inner Darkness, and I do not mean desolation or evil, but a quiet waiting and creativity. "The darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to thee."

Elizabeth Watson, "Your God is Too Small", 1996

Green vegetation and the ground on which we step are bathed in sunlight -- but not plant roots, not our own Inner Light. They work in blessed darkness.

Francis Hole, 1996
Friends General Conference workshop

It is as if the Divine Presence Said to us, "Ever seek balance....You are to love and appreciate yourself, other persons, plants and creatures around you, stars, earth, snow rocks. Do not "fall in love" with any of these to be possessed by them and swallowed up; neither turn away from them, nor renounce them. In the balance that you attain, keep me ever in view. Each of you is my unique darling, as is everyone and everything around you. Will you whisper to me with your last breath?

The nature of the Divine Presence is to give. As the sun gives light and warmth, as the plants give foliage, fruits, roots in abundance, so the Presence gives life to us, and death, too. Death and life are interwoven. When I die, it will not be true that the Presence will have reversed Itself, stopped giving, and will have taken away my life. Sister Death, as St. Francis called her, is a part of continual giving, which has meant change all along.

Francis Hole, A Little Journal of Devotions out of Quaker Worship, 1995

When I steward the earth, I believe I am caring for God's body.

Ju dith Brown 1998, "God's Spirit in Nature," , Pendle Hill Pamphlet 336

compiled by Rachel Findley <rafindley@earthlink.net>
Strawberry Creek Meeting, Berkeley, CA

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