http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/86/1890_van_Gogh_Bloeiende_kastanjebomen_anagoria.JPG/768px-1890_van_Gogh_Bloeiende_kastanjebomen_anagoria.JPGHymn singing at the Quaker meeting round the piano- we do this until half an hour before meeting, as it is not what Quakers do, usually. We sang Fred Pratt Green:

God is here! As we his people
meet to offer praise and prayer
May we find in fuller measure
What it is in Christ we share
Here, as in the world around us
all our varied skills and arts
Wait the coming of his Spirit
into open minds and hearts.

We did not sing

Father hear the prayer we offer
Not for ease that prayer shall be
But for grace, that we may ever
live our lives courageously.

I hate that hymn. Just possibly, it is not arrogant and unthinking, in deep bourgeois security, but it feels that way to me. It has got to me in the past, and the suggestion that we sing it got to me this morning. I declaimed- something I wrote earlier-

Father hear the prayer I offer
Not for stress that prayer may be
But for ease, that we may ever
Live our lives contentedly

Best not smite the living waters
From the rocks along the way
Moses did, and Thou didst bar him
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/ed/Vincent_van_Gogh_-_Meisje_in_Wit.jpg/694px-Vincent_van_Gogh_-_Meisje_in_Wit.jpgFrom the Promised Land that day

Not that always by still waters
would we idly rest, perhaps
I like theatres, pubs, and dances
Good clean water comes from taps.

Oh, we’re not singing that one, then, said Kingsley, and we sang something else.

I sat in the quiet of the meeting room, after, and that was not enough for me. I had to go out in the beautiful sunshine, thinking of this: that great outburst, that huge Will, my unstoppable No-
and I have a great Yes, within, too
it seems to me that I suppress it, because it frightens me, because it can only meet an immovable object. So much fear of a particular encounter which I put off for a week, and then- I asked, and she said, OK then. No problem.

As meeting is about to end, someone’s mobile phone goes off. Quel Horreur! So Embarrassing! He sits, oblivious and lordly as his wife scrabbles round to turn it off-

and we have the Silence, which has the space to accept this, as well as my revulsion against a possibly innocuous hymn.

As one of us comes into meeting each week she passes the huge photo of Peter Bone MP in his office, looking like the host at a party delighted to see you. It gives her a violent pain, as his views are repellent- How can the town of the True Levellers have a Tory MP? She turned into our garden, and saw me hugging that tree with a four yard circumference, and it made her feel suddenly peaceful.

We have the space for it. And- I have the space for it, too- I learned to suppress that in me, I think, in early childhood, and I may find more creative ways of welcoming it and using it for my Will is a terribly heavy burden if I have to block it all the time.

I played a little of the Maple Leaf Rag, and Peter encouraged me to play all of it. They liked it.