Monday, February 4, 2008

Our Hearts Are Restless

The premise of this pamphlet is that "Quakerism is a way of response to God, a way of response to the universal tide of unrest which ever relentlessly sweeps in upon us."

Gilbert Kilpack, a director of studies at Pendle Hill in the 1950's, begins with an astounding declaration:
The outcome of all human living and thinking depends upon what we make of the first three chapters of the book of Genesis. I say this not to astonish nor for the sake of novelty, but because to miss the implications of these chapters will, in the end, make all the difference between the Kingdom of God and the kind of world we make.

The author focuses our attention with fundamental question which we must all face: "Why am I here on this strange earth - what is the point to my life, to any life, to all human life? That is the question which passes from soul to soul and which we turn from and even conspire to avoid as one avoids some insidious disease..."
The essential, the primal question is simply "that of God in every man" seeking its fulfillment. That there is that of God in every man cannot be affirmed too many times, but it can be affirmed too easily. We should, every time we use the expression, be made to stop and think of the strange, terrible, and wonderful implications of such a belief.

From there Gilbert shines a light on each of our social testimonies, including Peace ("Sometimes I think I can hear the angels in heaven singing a funeral dirge for Friends' peace testimony.."), Community, Equality, and Simplicity. A reflection on our lack of true light leads him to question "How does 'the secret shining of the seed of God' become a living flame?" And answers at length "that to become Children of the Light we must first of all learn to pray... I do not care how broad a definition one gives to prayer so long as one does not impose a humanly fabricated limitation upon the possibilities of prayer."

I am enchanted by his understanding of the mystic:
The mystic is not one who possesses a special power to invade the Divine; rather he is any ordinary person who persistently puts down his human pride, that the Divine may invade him. The worldly man is the one who has learned to sidestep the everlasting seekings of God’s truth; the mystic is the one who has learned not to sidestep. Anyone can become a worldly soul and anyone can become a God-like soul. I never know whether or not I am a mystic until I bend my knees, which are not so much stiff as stubborn, till I bow my head, which is not so much filled with lofty reasoning as with lofty pride, till I calmly fold my hands, which are more restless from anxiety than from a desire to serve.

With examples taken from mystical literature, his own insight, and the writings of many others, Gilbert leads us through a discussion of prayer, its purpose, its mode, its difficulties and its rewards. He leads us to his six rules for seeking (q.v.) concluding "Only one thing is to be sought alone. God alone is an end in Himself."


Read the complete Pendle Hill Pamphlet 32 by Gilbert Kilpack:
Our Hearts Are Restless

1 comment:

The Second Secretary to the Assistant Clerk of the Semi-Divine Muse said...

Thank you for starting this blog. Words such as these, which encourage and open the heart to the true leadings of the spirit, are always appreciated by the Seekers of God.