New Year

Happy New Year. We are still in the season of Christmas, until the Epiphany on 6 January, so here are some van Dycks:

Madonna and Child with St. Catherine

Taken from the Cross


Why the Cross, at Christmas? Because these three paintings show the paradox of Christianity: God with man, helpless, and God in man, world-changing.

Assistant clerk

Anthonis van Dyck: Die Ausgiessung des Heiligen Geistes7 Sept: Part of the task of the assistant clerk is to take over in the clerk’s absence. Richard was called away in an emergency, suddenly on Tuesday, and he thought he might not be back. Because I have not worked with him on the agenda, I had no idea what would come up, and spent some time this morning imagining what I would say, apologising for being unable to do what I had agreed to do. Before coming out, I found that Richard will be there on Sunday, no apology necessary- and still the fact remains, that I sit at the table not doing the job as I see it, having the appearance without the substance. I have a decision to make.

Writing 16 Sept, going back to this post: On the evening of 7 Sept, I went to the 5Rhythms dancing, and thought of whether I would go to AM. I could just give up the role. Thinking does not make the decision for me. Find the motivation. I hate giving things up, or perhaps I hate appearing to myself as one who gives things up. The first is a real motivation which will make me happy. The second is from Hell, clutching the dirty rags of an appearance of goodness around myself, and will make me miserable. Words like honour, duty, respect do not help. So, dancing, I make a line on the floor. This side I am in my words and rationalisations, and when I am so fed up with them that I really want to access my spontaneity and being without words, and dance. So I immerse myself in the useless words, then cross the line.

I want to appear to myself to be a good person, and that gets in the way of actually being one.

I went to AM. The problem is that there are two models of Quaker decision making. One is like the Club committee, which never has much important to decide, and decides by consensus, by leaders saying what they find sensible, and even by backbiting and politics, though it is important not to appear to be in conflict, and generally Quakers are nice people. The other is making decisions in meeting for Worship, seeking God’s will. This is not “consensus”- we leave our egos outside, says the theory, one will be Moved to speak by the Holy Spirit/ Collective Unconscious/ Whatever, and the whole meeting will unite behind the Way which has been opened to us. I have experienced that, though it is not my usual experience of business meeting; one Friend who for years always attended business meeting told me she had never experienced it, just undirected blethering then quibbling about the wording of the minute.

As a romantic Quaker I have an attachment to the idea of guidance of Spirit producing decisions, but this month our decision on how to find people for Nominations committee actually worked well, and we made it by club committee rules. Richard came up with a reasonable suggestion, and pushed it through. I do not think he was Inspired by the Spirit. I am not certain that matters.

Actually, we have the Role of assistant clerk, and we are too conservative just to drop it; I do what Richard seems to want, which is sit there and read out any reports or whatever which need reading out; having lunch before is always pleasant; we are doing all right. And- I am dissatisfied, I want to do better.