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apendleLate yesterday I arrived home from my 5-day retreat at Pendle Hill, near Philadelphia, a gloriously peaceful place saturated with the beauty of nature and the prayer of Quakers since 1930. The theme developed over the days for the 60 participants – many Quakers and those others of us from several different Christian traditions – was Our Life Is Love. I went to the retreat because it was being led by Cynthia Bourgeault who has for over a decade been a bright light on my spiritual path. Cynthia was being assisted (I thought) by two women: a composer of chant-songs, Paulette Meier, and a teacher of the Quaker tradition, Marcelle Martin. Contrary to my impression from the retreat flyer, these three women presented a seamless experience of the beauty and depth of Quakerism that can also be found at the heart of mainstream Christianity. It was a priceless gift of camaraderie, shared prayer and hospitality that I will treasure going forward.

I woke up singing Paulette’s musical rendition of the quote from Isaac Penington, one of the founders of Quakerism, that begins Marcelle’s book, Our Life Is Love, a chronicle of ten elements of the Quaker spiritual journey. Here is what he said and what we sang.

Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations against one another; but praying for one another, and helping one another up with a tender hand…So mind Truth…[and] be a good savor in places where ye live, the meek, innocent, tender, righteous life reigning in you, governing over you, and shining through you, in the eyes of all with whom you converse. (Isaac Penington, 1667)