I've been wrestling with dissertation writing lately and it's been making me miserable. After tossing and turning in the wee hours this morning I felt the need to get up, shower, dress, braid up my hair, put on my cap and walk the dog. The big deal here is walking the dog in a dress and cap. I've been only a few public places in my cap, and I've never walked the dog dressed this way. I put my hair up in a ponytail, cover it with a bandanna, and wear a T-shirt and cargo shorts. Why? Mostly because I don't want to be conspicuous - dressing the way I've become used to. 

Why don't I want to be conspicuous? Because I've been apologizing to my friends, my neighbors, and people in general for being weird!  Do you know what I mean? Sorry for being weird, I'll just wear this bandanna instead of my cap to make you feel more comfortable. Sorry for being weird, I know my skirt is long but I've always worn long skirts so this isn't a big deal right? Sorry for being weird about the plain thing but it's probably just a phase - you still love me right? Sorry for being weird, but I've been reading alot of Quaker writings and even the bible in the privacy of my own home, but I am still the old girl who can cuss like a sailor and carry on, so you still love me right?

Here's my early morning revelation. You cannot serve two masters.

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i can so empathize with you. i go round and round with trying not to stand out versus doing what i've been lead to do. it's hard to follow leadings, but my stomach always feels better when i do.

you know, as i was typing, leadings was underlined as a spelling mistake, so i goggled it and got this, which i thought was strange and interesting and maybe more then a coincidence, so i'll share it with you in case it's helpful.

Hugh Barbour

Early Friends faced the daily job of recognizing the true from the subjective when they were led to speech and action. From Jeremiah's time to the present, men have known no absolute or easy way to tell a genuinely divine message from wishful impulses and false prophecy.

The problem was made urgent for the Quakers because they were regularly labeled by men of their time as "Ranters." The actual Ranters were a religious movement of the Seventeenth Century that superficially resembled the Friends and used much the same religious language. Ranters claimed that since they were redeemed and led by the Spirit, they could do no wrong, and so followed impulses into all kinds of immorality and anarchy. Some went further, saying that no man could be freed from a sin until he had committed that sin as if it were not a sin. Most of them felt they had found true faith or had been given a special prophetic call by God after a period of frustration in orthodox churches. Some were clearly psychotic.

It was therefore important for Quakers to know themselves, to find a basis for guiding and disciplining one another when necessary, and to explain to others how they differed from Ranters.

1. Moral purity. The first test for the genuineness of a leading was moral purity. Friends said that the Ranters "fled the cross," and that the true Spirit was always contrary to self-will and led to righteousness. They applied this test within their own Meetings, and their austerity was certainly in contrast to the libertine habits of the Ranters.

Even condemnation of the impure was part of this test, "for the word of the Lord is pure," wrote George Fox in a reference to Jeremiah 23:28, "and answers the pure in everyone . . . It is as a hammer to beat down the transgressor."

2. Patience. As a second test, elders warned Friends to sit with their leadings for a while in patience. Self-will is impatient of tests. Fox wrote, "Be patient and still in the power and still in the light that doth convince you, keep your minds unto God . . . If you sit still in the patience which overcomes in the power of God, there will be no flying."

3. Consistency with others. The third and most important test was likely to be the self-consistency of the Spirit. The Light should not contradict itself, either in history or among the members of the Spirit-led group.

Even the senior preachers submitted their directives to each others' testing. In 1659 Thomas Aldam and William Dewsbury wrote to George Fox and Edward Burrough: "Take into your consideration the things written down in that power which came to me and W. Dew. at York and let me have an answer, how the large wisdom of God in you doth approve of the particular things to be done, and what it disapproves of, that in one Mind we may meet."

From these casual ways of verifying each others' leadings, there grew up in turn the uniform and practical organs of Quaker group life in Meetings for Business.

4. Consistency with the Bible. One strong means for using the consistency of the Spirit as a test for the validity of leadings was to compare them with biblical conduct.

Friends were never willing to use the Bible directly as a guidebook or rule book lest it substitute for each person's own direct experience of the Light of Christ. In every area of life the Spirit must be absolute. But the Quakers, of course, believed that the biblical writers were also divinely inspired and that biblical teachings and prophecies were therefore proper to use for comparison. They were also willing for their opponents to test them by the Bible.

This agreement of the Spirit with the Bible was achieved more easily than it would be now, since early Friends were steeped in the Bible, quoted it unconsciously, and felt that it was the Spirit's characteristic vocabulary.

5. Inward unity. The power of the Spirit to bring people into unity was one of the happy discoveries of the early Friends, and served as a final test of the guiding of the Light.

Friends have always needed to distinguish between "Openings" teaching them timeless truths, and "Call" experiences of individual guidance for specific tasks and decisions. Even the latter, however, were tested by early Friends against the discerning of other Friends, to guard against self-deception. For example, Thomas Stubbs, though his own work kept him in Northampton, spoke of feeling the call that had taken Edward Burrough and Francis Howgill to Ireland. At the same time he wrote to William Dewsbury, in prison for his faith, that he felt united to him in the will of the Lord.

Sharing the Spirit of God within them underlay the deepest of all Quaker experiences, the unspoken awareness of the unification of the group by the Spirit in the silent Meeting, where the whole body, and not primarily its individuals, received power, wisdom, and joy.

This leaflet is based on pages 119-123 of Hugh Barbour's history, THE QUAKERS IN PURITAN ENGLAND, Yale University Press, 1964 (now available in paperback from Friends United Press.) The original includes footnotes and more examples.
Five Tests for Discerning a True Leading - Copy number 1896

Published by the

1501 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19102

Founded 1816

This is an interesting tract, but it is not easy to understand in current terms, or maybe I'm too type A and need more precise markers? It is interesting to be reminded that this is not a new struggle for Friends, or for humans even! Thank you for sharing it.
A major appointment indeed. I've been trying to decipher the source of my discontent of late. It is manifesting in many ways; loss of sleep, insecurity about money, worries over the dissertation, etc. It is a different feeling than the contentment and peace I've been experiencing up til recently.

A Friend here turned me on to The Message - a bible written in contemporary ways that speaks to me like a really good self help book actually.

In Paul's letter to the Galatians he says, "...It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: ...a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness, trinket gods; magic-show religion, paranoid loneliness...all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper;... But what happens when we live in God's way? He brings gifts into our lives...things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people."

So I think this agitation stems from a swerve off the path somewhere. This might be one - this posing and apologia to disapproving friends.
Rudy, when I was an undergrad my girl friends and I enjoyed going to male strip shows. They were alot of fun, we carried on like crazy people, the men were beautiful. This was great until I ran into one of the dancers in the student computer lab. Suddenly he was a human being and I just couldn't do the strip show thing anymore. Something similar is happening in my behavior now. Suddenly I see myself through the eyes of others and am being made aware of proper behavior (proper being subjective of course, so proper-for-me).
It is difficult when i worry about how everyone else is going to feel when it is actually about how i feel. Although the negative remarks get to me every so often. Who are we really apologizing to? When i start to apologize for my beliefs or my dress then I have to question my own reasons for doing this. It is hard but right now I'm just at the phase of wearing plain dress after work and on weekends. And in the end I am much happier like Parise said.
Indeed we cannot serve two masters.
Some days it's a challenge to even serve one master ; )

Maybe you're picking up vibes that the changes in you are unsettling your friends a little? Humans are resistant to change. How many people have stopped smoking and had "friends" offer them a cigarette, or have worked hard to lose weight and then been bluntly told, "I liked you better fat."
Sometimes our friends want us to be the same old person they have always known. We struggle with this.

The goal, however, is not to maintain the status quo for others. The goal, if I understand it correctly, is to submit to the changing power of the spirit, and ultimately to become what God had in mind when we were created.
Now I freely admit I have no idea what God had in mind.....but it is clear that for some of us a Plain life is either part of that, or part of the path that leads us in that direction.

And as luck would have it we've chosen to follow the master who isn't the easiest to follow.

Love does that to people.
You know Leslie, sometimes we can be so blind. I tell people all the time that peers and family will often try to sabotage their attempt to make a change (in the very habits you describe - smoking and weight) and that there are many reasons they may do so. Did I even think about that regarding the resistance and chafing I'm getting from my peers - indeed not! That may account for some of it. Regardless of the reasons, this is where I am for now so they're just going to have to get used to it.
Honey if they think you're gonna stop changing to suit them then they have another think coming....you are a live, vibrant and growing girl!
You can't. But you're real friends won't need an apology. If you feel a change coming on, and they are your true friends --then they'll get it. I partied and was seeking at the same time, some didn't understand and others ignored it.

Really finding Quakerism just gave me a fellowship of folks who were like me anyway to worship with. Most of my good friends outside of Quakerism, have my similar quirks and really are not weird but "peculiar" too.

Put your friends to the test, don't apologize. The real ones will stand up!
I just so understand what you mean. I do the dresses and skirts and a bandana and sometimes a scarf but the cap in only in church. (I have no quakers in my town so I go to a 'regular' church to have Christian friends and allies) One day I will go to work in a cap and dress, but I am not there yet. I know I am on my way but that road is not the easiest one.
Thee should look into snoods. Here is an example http://www.garlandsofgrace.com/products-page/classic-coverings/megs...

I'm having some made by my favorite seamstress (Katie's Mercantile). They are very tidy.

I do understand, completely!


As for resources, Plain and Simple Headcoverings is a great website, Miss B makes wonderful items, I have purchased quite a few. She sells snoods too (which are available anytime for purchase), and although currently she is on hold with sewing, she is an excellent seamstress and offers great service, you should take a look at her website.  You can find her at www.prayercoverings.com.  Quaker Jane's blog offers a wonderful array of resources for plain dress. www.Quakerjane.com.  Rachel's Seamstress Service offers wonderful bonnets,  and other items at www.rachelsseamstressservices.com.  I also like www.covered4him.com and www.ringgerclothing.com.


I am also in the middle of beginning a cottage business I feel led to offer, of modest and plain clothing.  I am currently working on setting up my Etsy storefront, an ArtFire storefront, and getting my own website going.  For now, until my website is up and running, anyone interested can got to either www.etsy.com/people/WebbHomesteadCrafts or www.artfire.com and search for WebbHomesteadCrafts to find me.  You can send me requests in the conversations option for items you are looking for, since I am currently working on gathering ideas for items to offer.  I can be reached on here, as well as on Facebook (if you use it).  I will be creating a Facebook page soon for the new website at www.ModestMeadowsMerchant.com that will be up and running soon.


Blessings on your journey!


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