All the difference

There are some very lovely Quaker quotations that have stayed with me from the twenty odd years when I was a member of the Society of Friends. Often the writings are honed from experience and born from a direct unmediated experience of divine reality so they have an authenticity and a depth to them. This is the opposite of what one might call formulated theology which may also have emerged at some point from experience but has been formatted or reworked over the centuries to fit with a doctrine or to resonate with the institution of religion i.e. the church.

In my old copy of ‘Christian Faith and Practice’ … there is a newer version now used – there is an account, a very brief one, of the life of George Lloyd Hodgkin born in 1880 and who died in 1918 when he fell ill in Baghdad taking relief to Armenia. He spent his short life searching for and in the service of Truth and one of his testimonies goes as follows. he wrote this in 1912:

So much of life is just going on and going on, long after the excitement and stimulus has faded … there is so much to ask for that I get very lost. And then I just come back to the simple longings, the simplest prayers of all; that Christ may be in those we love, that our love may be more Christ-like, more unmoveable, that we may be … by God’s side whatever happens. We must give up trying to hold His hand, and just stretch out our hands – even if they are just fists – for God to hold. There is all the difference … between holding and being held.    

This is  a state of vulnerability and dependence with utter trust in the ‘more than ourselves’.