It was a lovely mild spring evening on Sunday, 2nd April when we all met at a Friend’s house for spiritual supper. Upon arriving at the house, we all immediately set about finding jobs we could do in the kitchen to get dinner going, and make tea and coffee for 18 young Quakers. We had chosen a hearty spinach and chickpea pilaf recipe which was both vegan and gluten free, and also delicious!
Once the cooking was underway, the ‘excess chefs’ headed into the living room to catch up and get to know our star guest, Paul Parker. Any intimidation we may have felt at meeting the recording clerk of Britain Yearly Meeting was immediately dissipated by Paul’s warmth and kind manner. While we waited for dinner to be ready, we all introduced ourselves, saying a few words on our relationship to the Society of Friends — often at our events, we do this by saying how much we each ‘Quake’ (we think we’re funny), and one Friend trying to say that he ‘occasionally Quakes’ accidentally coined the term ‘oquasionally’ which we all liked so much we adopted it for the remainder of the evening!
Next we tried our ‘hands’ at a clapping name game, which proved comically difficult to master. Thankfully, the house was soon filled with the scent of scrumptious spices and we all headed into the dining room to eat. We sat in small tables of four or five, which allowed us to get to know some of the newcomers better, and ended dinner with a brief shared silence.
Many friendly hands make light work, and after a speedy clean-up operation we all headed back into the living room to share our highlights of the week and begin the spiritual session. Our host lit some candles in the middle of the room which helped set the tone for contemplation, and the Friend leading the session introduced the reading. We focussed on QFP 26.30:
“What is love? What shall I say of it, or how shall I in words express its nature? It is the sweetness of life; it is the sweet, tender, melting nature of God, flowing up through his seed of life into the creature, and of all things making the creature most like unto himself, both in nature and operation. It fulfils the law, it fulfils the gospel; it wraps up all in one, and brings forth all in the oneness. It excludes all evil out of the heart, it perfects all good in the heart. A touch of love doth this in measure; perfect love doth this in fullness.”
Isaac Penington, 1663
Several Friends had perceptive insights to share on their reading of this beautiful passage, amongst some restorative silence. Once the session was closed, we ended the evening on a very happy note — sharing out some delicious chocolate Paul had generously brought along for us. It was a heart-warming and fun evening, and we really hope Paul joins us again some time for another of our spiritual suppers.
Joe and Jess