Notes from the Road
Michael Wajda and Alison Levie
are from Goshen Monthly Meeting, Philadelphia YM
We are in the midst of a two-month journey among Friends in Australia and New Zealand under the auspices of the Asia West Pacific Section of FWCC. So far, we have visited eleven Quaker groups throughout Australia. (A list of the places is shown below.) During our travels we have been offering presentations about the services and activities of the Asia West Pacific Section and spiritual workshops entitled “Grounded in Spirit,” “Doorways to the Spirit,” and “Expectant Listening.” More than 150 Friends have participated in the presentations and workshops so far.
Throughout Australia we have been moved by the deep commitment of Friends to Quaker spirituality and witness. There is active engagement with the testimonies, including a strong concern for Aborigines, refugees, peace, and environmental stewardship. Friends appreciate the work of AWPS in connecting Friends in this part of the world through gatherings, online worship, newsletters, and FWCC’s work with the Quaker United Nations Offices (QUONO) in New York and Geneva. There has been a very strong interest in the involvement of Young Friends throughout the Section. Our slideshow and report on the recent AWPS Gathering in Hong Kong has been keenly welcomed. The meaningfulness and joy experienced there is evident in the photos.
The spiritual workshops we are offering have sparked a very strong turnout. Often 10 or more Friends have participated in our visits, even on weekday afternoons, wanting opportunities to share spiritually together. We have heard many deep and meaningful stories of spiritual experience, creative and profound witness, and even personal spiritual transformation. Friends have shared their journeys and concerns with each other and we have noted a hunger for more opportunities to strengthen deeper connections both locally and globally.
We have seen that Friends in Australia share an abiding commitment to Quaker worship and a varied vocabulary to express their beliefs. When we asked Friends who participated in our workshops to name a couple of words that they use to describe God or Spirit, the choices were rich and meaningful. We sensed tremendous acceptance and support for others across vocabularies, passions, and various ways of living as Quakers.
In many places we also noted a loneliness because Quakers are so few in number and so widely dispersed. There has been joy in being together and a deep sense of family that extends across Australia. Many Friends expressed a sadness that we were getting to many places but not going to Perth.
We have been deeply moved by the warm welcome and generous hospitality that we have received everywhere we have been. We look forward to one more stop in Australia and then on to New Zealand.
Thank you FWCC and AWPS for this opportunity to visit and be present with Friends in this part of the world.
Michael and Alison have visited Whyanbeel and Brisbane in Queensland,
Alstonville, Coffs Harbour, New Castle, Sydney, the Blue Mountains and Silver Wattle in New South Wales, Canberra, Hobart and Adelaide.