Advices and Queries for the Fifth Month*

Harmony with Creation

Advices

It would go a long way to caution and direct people in their use of the world, that they were better studied and knowing in the creation of it. For how could [they] find the confidence to abuse it, while they should see the Great Creator stare them in the face, in all and every part thereof?

Adapted from William Penn, Some Fruits of Solitude 1693, 12-13

God is revealed in all Creation. We humans belong to the whole interdependent community of life on earth. Rejoice in the beauty, complexity and mystery of creation, with gratitude to be part of its unfolding. Take time to learn how this community of life is organized and how it interacts. Live according to principles of right relationship and right action within this larger whole. Be aware of the influence humans have on the health and viability of life on earth. Call attention to what fosters or harms earth’s exquisite beauty, balances and interdependencies. Guided by Spirit, work to translate this understanding into ways of living that reflect our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.

Queries

  •  In what ways do I express gratitude for the wondrous expressions of life on Earth?
  • Do I consider the damage I might do to the Earth’s vulnerable systems in choices I make of what I do, what I buy, and how I spend my time?
  • In our witness for the global environment, are we careful to consider justice and the well-being of the world’s poorest people?
  • Does our way of life threaten the viability of life on Earth?

*from Pacific Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice (2001), 51

Advices and Queries for the Fourth Month

Stewardship and Vocation

Advices

John Woolman said, “As Christians all we possess are the gifts of God… To turn all the treasures we possess into the channel of Universal Love becomes the business of our lives.” The principle of stewardship applies to all we have and are. As individuals, we are called to use our time, our various abilities, our strength, our money, and our material possessions with care, managing them wisely and sharing them generously.”

From the indwelling Seed of God, we discover our particular gifts and discern the service to which we are called. In making choices about occupation or education, consider the way that offers the fullest opportunity to develop your individual abilities and contribute to the world community while providing for yourself and your family. In daily work, manifest a spirit of justice and understanding, and thus give a living witness to the truth.

Be ready to limit engagements, to withdraw for a time, or even to retire from an activity that inhibits your ability to follow a higher call. Try to discern the right moment to accept new responsibilities as well as to relinquish responsibility that can pass to others. Be open to your calling in different stages of life. Meetings need the strength and vigor of young people as well as the experience and wisdom of elders. Although they may not be able to contribute great financial support, their energy and insight invigorate the community. As people begin careers and families, they may need the spiritual and experienced help of the Meeting. Later, when families are growing up and careers are established, greater participation in the Meeting and greater financial support may become possible. Welcome the approach of old age, your own and others’, as an opportunity for wisdom and greater attachment to the Light. Meetings should be ready with material and spiritual support for those suffering from unemployment or facing difficult vocational decisions.

Queries

  • How have I been faithful to the leadings of the Spirit in choosing work or vocation?
  • What am I doing with my talents, time, money and possessions?
  • Is my conduct at the workplace consistent with my life as a Friend?
  • How does my daily work enhance my spiritual life?
  • How does the Meeting help and support members who are in job transitions?

*from Faith and Practice of the Pacific Yearly Meeting (2001), 48-49

Advices and Queries for the Third Month*

Meeting for Worship on the Occasion of Business

Advices

Come to Meeting with hearts and minds prepared to be open and faithful to the leadings of the Spirit. Then the conduct of business will lead to truth, unity, and love.

When a matter is before the Meeting for Business, each person present contributes to the corporate search for a decision that accords with the will of God. Inaction is a form of action. Silent worship in the Meeting for Business contributes to the process of achieving unity.

Listen attentively to others’ words and use the silence between messages to reflect carefully on what you might contribute. When you are clear, speak simply what is in your heart, without repeating what has already been offered. While making your insights clear, lay aside personal opinions and attend to what God requires.

Queries

  • Do I attend Meeting for Business regularly?
  • Do I speak in Meeting for Business only when I am led to speak?
  • Is the Meeting for Business held as a Meeting for Worship in which we seek divine guidance for our actions?
  • Are we tender and considerate of different views, coming to a decision only when we have found unity?
  • Do we give prayerful support for our clerks that they may be sensitive to the movement of the Spirit among us?

*from PACIFIC YEARLY MEETING FAITH AND PRACTICE (2001), 48-49

Advices and Queries for the Second Month*

Spiritual Life

Advices

The life of the spirit gains depth and vigor through devotional practices, prayer, study and meditation. Take time regularly for individual and family worship, discussions. Readings from sacred texts and other spiritual refreshment in order to live a more centered life and to bring a deeper presence to the Meeting for Worship. Friends believe that the spiritual path is best found in community. Create opportunities in your Meetings for people of all ages to explore and express their evolving relationship with the Divine, their spiritual highs and their doubts. If different metaphors and language interfere with communication, listen more deeply, honoring the Spirit in which the thought and words have their beginnings.

Queries

  • Do I live in thankful awareness of God’s constant presence in my life?
  • Am I sensitive and obedient to the leadings of the Holy Spirit?
  • When do I take time for contemplation and spiritual refreshment?
  • Do we share our spiritual lives with others in the Meeting, seeking to know one another in that which is eternal?
  • Does the Meeting provide religious education including study of the Bible and Friends’ history and practices?

Thank you from Friendly Water for the World

A Note of Appreciation

In December 2021, our meeting donated approximately $3000 to Friendly Water for the World, a non-profit organization whose mission is to train and equip communities in sustainable village-scale technologies to safeguard, conserve, and expand essential resources. Our money was used to build two water catchment tanks at Bulovi Friends Primary School (Under Malava Yearly Meeting of Friends) in Kakamega County, Kenya. Because of these tanks, the children at the school no longer need to walk miles to collect water every day.

Below is the text of a thank you letter we received from Eric Lung’aho Lijodi, the Africa Programs Manager for Friendly Water for the World:

Date: 2nd September 2022

To all Friends,
Orange County Friends Meeting,
Religious Society of Friends,
Costa Mesa, California

Dear Friends,

REF: Appreciation

Calvary greetings in Jesus name with an expectation that this letter will find you all well. On behalf of my organization, I would like to express our deepest gratitude for your unselfish contribution towards construction of two Rain Water Catchments at Bulovi Friends Primary School (Under Malava Yearly Meeting of Friends).Your donation was very important to us as it geared us towards our commitment towards serving the community.

Attached to this appreciation note you will find the following documents which I beseech you to find time to read in order to have a deeper understanding of how important your donation has been not only to us as an organization but to the beneficiary community:

We are blessed to have you as our partner and once more thank you very much for your generous support and we look forward to working with you again in the near future. If you have questions or needy clarity, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

Eric Lung’aho Lijodi
Programs Manager

Advices and Queries for the Tenth Month

Personal Relationships

Advices

In daily relationships with others, both inside and outside the home, our lives as Friends speak immediately and lastingly. In these relationships, our faith may also be severely tested. We are called to respond to that of God in everyone: we are all children of God.

Friends celebrate any union that is dedicated to mutual love and respect, regardless of the unique make-up of the family. We strive to create homes where the Spirit of the Divine resides at the center and where the individual genius of each member is respected and nurtured.

Human sexuality is a divine gift, forming part of the complex union of body, mind and spirit that is our humanity. In a loving adult relationship in a context of mutual responsibility, sexuality brings delight, fulfillment and celebration.

The presence of children carries a special blessing as well as responsibility. Children bring unique spiritual gifts — wonder, resiliency, playfulness and more. Recognize and honor the Divine Light within children and treat them with the dignity and respect that is due to all people. Listen to and learn from children; share with them those values and practices that are central to our own lives. Special care must be given to resolving problems between adults and children in a manner that gives equal weight to the feelings and needs of both children and adults. Tender parenting is one of the critically important peace vocations in our society. Make every effort to offer all parents the personal and institutional support that this challenging work requires.

Take a strong stand against any form of abuse, whether that abuse is minor or severe, and whether it is emotional, physical or sexual in nature. The terrible impact of abuse on the most vulnerable members of our families creates lifelong suffering for its victims and is a major source of violence in our society. Perpetrators are themselves usually victims of similar violence and should be approached with compassion as well as firmness.

Queries

  • Do I make my home a place of friendliness, joy and peace where residents and visitors feel God’s presence?
  • Are my sexual practices consistent with my spiritual beliefs, and free of manipulation and exploitation?
  • What barriers keep me from responding openly and lovingly to each person?
  • Do we open our thoughts, beliefs and deep understandings to our children and others who share our lives and our hospitality?
  • Do we provide our children and young adults with a framework for active, ongoing participation in meeting?

from Pacific Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice (2001), 56-57