Friendly Witness: The Spiritual Ground of Quaker Social Action4th mo. 19, 2023 from 1pm to 6pm
Quaker Theological Discussion Group 202312th mo. 1, 2023 at 8am to 12th mo. 2, 2023 at 10am
Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
I'm of a liberal Quaker tradition, and I work in a fairly senior position in the health service in the UK.
I've always kept a version of modern plain, being someone who has short hair, very seldom wears makeup, having a relativly small range of clothes in my wardrobe.
I also have fair, easily burning skin, so have covered up more than typical fpr my culture (I grew up in NZ) out of sheer necesity.
I am sensing a calling to start head-covering. My own meeting will ask why but not be overly concerned. My boyfriend who also dresses a version of modern plain and always wears a hat outside will see no issue.
What I am struggling with is how I will deal with this in my work-life. I've looked at our dress code and I can fit within it, but I don't know how either professional peers or clients will interpret this.
Has anyone else had this experience and could give me some indication of your experience.
Yes, I can see how that might work. Our dress code also permits head covering for religious or medical reasons. The kerchief would work well for me too.
I guess I need to think further on it, because I have both a front facing job (both in management and on clinical side). I don't want to distance myself from my client group, and I just don't know if it would provoke a negative reaction. It has taken a while to gain the trust of my client group, many of who are averse to "others" - and my accent already gives me an "otherness".
I am just so surprised to have this leading. It may be in part having finally found my boyfriend to whom I am evenly yolked and a wish to preserve some things as only shown to him. It is a big change, because it is the step from simplicity to modesty of dress at it's most obvious in the modern world.
I am sure a way will open.
I do not have a true leading to dress "Quaker plain". But growing up as a Quaker I think it has come naturally out of that. I have worn a bandanna, head scarf, or kerchief since I was a teenager(well into middle age now). I am sure people see it as dated or out of fashion but, it is not so antiqued as to draw attention that might feed my vanity or made me a creature. I don't wear it constantly as that makes it a uniform or a custom. I have taken on want Margret Fell said about "plain" vs. "gay" Quakers. The source of the materials and the place ones fashions were made, is a more important consideration then the details of "plain dress".
Holding you in the Light as you move on your Leading, ASR
Had an interesting experience today.
I had a minor bit of surgery performed by my GP this morning to remove a small cyst on the back of my head, and he could not do it as planned so a) it bled out a bit, and b) I had a bald patch and 3 stitches, which was not on the original plan.
I have enough knowledge of anatomy that I had suspected this might occur, so I had bought along a scarf (blue/green/purple stripes with silver threads, so not exactly plain) and 4 hair clips (from the last time I had long hair), and ended up wearing covering not too disimilar to how the Adah looks in Christian covering.
Then I had to go off to a meeting with 4 senior clinical staff and a manager I didn't know (different service from mine - we are starting to work in partnership with a client group) and after that do clinic with all the patients as reviews, some of them long term reviews. That was interspersed with being around our building where I am well known by everyone.
Only one person asked directly, I had 3 complements and several smiles. I overheard one of the patients waiting in the waiting room ask her husband if I was "Muslim".
I don't quite know what to make of it. It seemed so easy in some ways...
Thank you all for your healing wishes.
It is one of those slight cultural differences - my GP accepted I wanted something that was a change to my skin sliced off, because I grew up in a southern country, where changes to skin are things to be alarmed about. Looking at it after he had done it, we both agreed it was likely that it was solar keratosis (drat this fair skin), rather than anything more sinister, but we sent it off to the pathology lab to check it out. I'm feeling a bit sore and sorry for myself at the moment, but my nurse colleagues made me laugh because they all said "You're a terrible patient, why haven't you been taking pain tablets regularly?"
I have since also spoken to my beloved (we live 12 hours in time zones apart, so have limited talk time in mornings and evenings), and told him about the experience. We then talked about how it was a step beyond plain and into modesty, and I was feeling a bit perplexed about the leading.
He then said "Well, I am just imagining the pleasure of taking your headscarf off when you get home and we are alone together." I felt he "got" it.
I have a few more hurdles to cross - my boss will ask, and although she has some understanding of outward expression of faith (having worked in Palestine), I wonder what she will make of it from a feminist perspective.
My Mum having been raised a Wee Free (Prebyterian) will also be a bit of a challenge, because she left the Wee Frees over the issue of head covering in the 1970s...
My other barrier will be my best friend who I share a house with. He is an adult with Asperger's Syndrome (long story there), and I know he struggles with things that make people notice him, so my being differently dressed will bother him. I think I will need to be sensitive to his needs as well, so possibly when I am out and about with him I will have to go back to sun hats etc
I'm off to AM on Saturday, representing my local meeting - let's see if I am brave enough to cover there!
My kind of work will always be public facing, and I suspect I am not at the top of the promotion pathway.
This professional journey has been interesting, because I have managed to get promotions despite being a modern plain, who doesn't play politics.If I have to get involved in political situations, I mostly survive by speaking truth along with lots of effort to make sure I understand the perspectives of all parties - I work on consensus as much as possible.
With my beloved, it is the first time I have had a relationship with a fellow Quaker. We are navigating the challenges that two people who have lived worldy lives bring to a relationship, but try to apply Quaker principals to the nourshing of our New Jerusalem. The delight for me is the core of trust that is there already...
I come from a Liberal meeting to in America and I haven't had a similae experience but I can tell you what I know of friends in our past history have said concerning leadings
"If there is something of his Image in Us and superscription in our inmost structure and being,we ought to expect continous revalation of his willl and purpouse through the ages"-Rufus Jones
"stand up ye prophets of the lord,for the truth upon the earth,quench not you're prophecy ,neither heed them that despise it;but in that stand which brings you through to the end"-George Fox
"within himself he found the law of right,
He walked by faith not the letter's sight,
And read the bible by the the inward light" John Whittier
I am a very young friend but I have learned through my studies of our movement that we never fit the standard of everyone else around we were transformed by that Collective and Inner light telling us not to conform but reform even it be by sight those around us but in a peaceful manner
Today was interesting as the second day I have worn my head scarf. It reminded me I keep my faith pretty well concealed at work and use gentle humor to keep social discourse going, when I don't want to go too deeply into relating with people in my work environment.
One of the minor injuries nurses came in to the lunch room and said to me "Ah, that is where the tea-towel has gone" (Referring to my headscarf). She meant no harm at all, and I managed to avoid recoiling in upset at the comment. I managed to change the topic without going into a lot of detail, but when driving between community visits today, I was thinking about a couple of things.
1) How hard it must be for muslim women to wear hijab in my community (we are in amongst the most white parts of Britian) and that part of this leading may be a call to challenge the issue of social uniformity which prevails in my working environment
2) I avoid conversations about my faith not from the feeling I can not be seen to evangalise (something we have to be very mindful of given there has been disciplinary proceedings against other NHS staff who have said things like "would you like me to pray for you?"), but also because I do get a bit tired of dealing with the "process" questions, rather than the questions of actual spiritual significance.
I can imagine that if I said it was about an expression of my faith, I would have a whole lot of questions about what I do on a sunday, and whether I was being "told" to cover my head, rather than being able to explain that is was a way of exploring my own relationship with the Divine.
Hmmm...so this is turning into quite a deep experience, and I am still not sure that it is a clear leading. Having said this one of my visits was to a long standing client, and she said it made me look much less fierce than my usual severe short hair cut. I explained it was an exploration of my own beliefs, and it turns out she knows someone from one of the other LMs in our AM...
Day 3, an at home day, with one trip down town to pick up a birthday present for my sister (her 50th!) and to stock up on groceries mid-week. I also went to the charity shops to see if I could find any more head scarves.
I got a nice green-blue paisley (figured headcovering is a challenge without being picky about colour- LOL), and while going round the shops found it interesting asking "Have you got any headscarves in store?" Most people politely showed me where they were, one lady recoiled visibly.
While at the shop I got my scarf, there was an older man who was doing some maintenance and he was talking about the nice sunny weather, and I joined in as I would usually do. It was nice. I was still "me" despite wearing the headscarf.
I live in a poor rural community, and I am beginning to understand that the people here are unlikely to question my choice (although I am not going to press my luck and be downtown at closing time for the pubs), that it is more likely that the incomers from wealthier areas who work here and go home to their safe middle-class environments are more likely to have a problem. Which means I will have to address that in the next couple of days as I am down to the office in the "well-off" part of the county.
So the journey continues. I have posted some photos for anyone wanting to see how I have been doing the headscarf thing, as a modern plain
I was moved to be more plain just about last spring. It was self defense; I'd gotten so far into the rat race that I was killing myself; I was overworked, constantly worried about money, drinking ALOT of caffeine, you name it. I was looking for a symbol, something to remind me of what was truly important in life - sort of like someone wears a star of David or crucifix to remind himself of where his focus should be.
I was already a Friend, but not religious, so understandably this leading to plainness took me a bit by surprise. But it made so much sense. Over this past year I've changed alot; I wear skirts and dresses. I wear them so often that when I go horseback riding (in breeches) I try to pick my breeches up to sit down! I also cover. I feel such a sense of order when I cover. I don't care where it's from, I don't need to rationalize it, I'm just accepting it for what it is.
I've tried many covers. I love my gathered caps from Katie's Mercantile http://www.katiesmercantile.com/gathered_cap_adult.html with good results. I was starting to get some traction alopecia so I seldom wear them. I now wear snoods that she made for me (see pictures in my profile). Katie's has essentially dressed me! I wear her skirts and her jumpers. I absolutely adore the jumpers; they are so versatile. For office wear, speaking of Muslims, I shop at Shukr.com an online store for modest Muslims who live in Western countries. My more formal clothing is from there http://www.shukronline.com/womens-skirts.html
Covering wasn't too difficult for me. I teach at University, mainly at a Catholic university so nobody really looks twice at my snood or bandanna or even my cap. Nor do they look twice at my modest clothes (the kids dress any which way but I think their exposure has increased their tolerance). I also live in rural Pennsylvania and we're like the world capital for Plain folk. Among the Mennonites, Amish, German Baptist, etc. I don't stand out at all. When I go to Walmart most people are regular dressers but I'll see a kapp or two, long dresses, cape dresses, the works. I actually sometimes feel a bit of kapp envy!
My liberal meeting wasn't sure what to do with me at first. Nobody said anything too direct. I had one or two comments about the cap and snood, but nothing much. What is surprising is that my method of dressing seems to be influencing other folks. I've been asked where I get my jumpers and one woman wears her long skirts more often.
All I can say is that following thee's leading will give thee peace. Fighting it will cause thee strife.
JMO of course.
Well it has been a fascinating Inward journey this week.
I wore my headscarf all this week at work, including 2 clinics and on a management day. On 6th day I had a staff meeting, with all three of the people I line manage directly in attendance, and all three commented how relaxed and well I looked - and how the headscarf suited me - which I admit did surprise me. My boss and I have still not caught up with each other, which is a significant test to pass, however she worked in Palestine and the Sudan, so I am reasonably confident she will understand far better than many.
I was at Area meeting today - and I think my being under 50 was more remarkable than what I wore on my head :-)....and if anyone ever wants a great way to stay relaxed but focused in a long Meeting for Worship for Business, I recommend crocheting(!)
I could follow what was being said, use the rhythm of the stitching to stay present in the moment - and it took a very strong calling to stand and speak to an issue, because the crochet would have to be put down.
Thank you all for your prayers and support. It is still a journey which needs some clarrificaiton, but the first baby steps have been taken.
My experience with headcovering, as with everything else, has been that if I am called to it, I will be given whatever I need to do it. So most of the time I don't fret; I just have faith and get on with things. My wardrobe recedes into the background, as is fitting.
I have also consistently found that my wardrobe is of more interest to me than to others. People's attention spans are really not that long, and they go on to other things. ;-)