In the Society of Friends (Quaker), many of the local meetings for worship are named after bodies of water. The awareness of natural streams rather than human development is telling. The Bible, after all, also flows with water imagery as it speaks for a desert people.

Stillwater can be seen as an allusion to Psalm 23 or to the old-style Quakers who clustered around Stillwater Meeting in rural Ohio.

These are reflections on living with a community of faith, its strengths and challenges, and the guidelines it offers.


Stillwater 1

For these essays and more, visit Thistle/Flinch editions.



1 a decrepit mess / pit put them away a cat, a dog, an auto executioner gone, finally, by dawn desperate houses plunked down in rock face where will everyone live? 2 Warren Farm’s disastrous pick-your-own corn experiment DeMerritt Hill Farm now owned by New York City refugees who need to make the mortgage while […]


Perhaps it will also help to keep in mind that the modern Ministry and Counsel committee reinvents the traditional select meeting of Ministers, Elders, and Overseers: those with recognized gifts in prophetic, free-gospel vocal ministry; in being bishops or anchorites, holding the meeting community in prayer; and in being pastoral caregivers, aware of temporal and spiritual needs and responding to them. At Agamenticus our biggest weakness is on the overseer front. In many pastoral congregations, I would argue, many problems arise because the pastor or minister is expected to embody all three functions, and the “priesthood of all believers” is subsequently lost. That’s a far cry from “releasing” the pastor to fulfill one gift, with the congregation performing the other roles as they, too, are gifted. In an unprogrammed meeting, this means being aware of the ways each person fits into the body of Christ.

I sense that it will be important for you to reach out beyond Orono Meeting, to find within Vasselboro Quarter and the Yearly Meeting the “secret Wilburites” who seem to exist in every meeting, but who often feel isolated; in my travels among Friends, they often come up to me after the hour of worship and express gratitude for hearing a Christ-centered, Bible-based message. One Friend observed that as she grew spiritually, she began to discover that everyone she considered a “Weighty Quake,” a Friend with depth and grounding, was also a devoted Christian. And the traditional Bible Half-Hour each morning at Yearly Meeting has contained some of the best spiritual study I’ve encountered anywhere, arising more “in” the text than “about” it.


For more Seasons of the Spirit, click here.


The mind dances here and there, rarely in a linear progression. So what’s in my thoughts these days? How about counting on these fingers?


  1. While driving through town, I glance over at a small cemetery and notice wild turkeys padding about. A whole flock, actually, reminding me of hunting season hereabouts and the national holiday just ahead. Somehow, the critters know the calendar, and the wiser ones find sanctuary in town. Good luck to the rest of their brood.
  2. With the return of cold weather, we once again use our front entryway and the mudroom beside the kitchen as auxiliary refrigerators. Don’t trip over the pots and pans when you visit.
  3. When it comes to problems, focus on what’s closest, rather than always on the horizon. (The view from Mount Aquarius.)
  4. It’s all New Work, in the works.
  5. After all the lost or difficult years, the dashed dreams and desires, broken promises, upheavals – mingled, curiously, with gratitude. I’M HERE!
  6. What never happened – and then?
  7. Asked how long they’d lived there, in an American Walden, the artist replied: “Too long!”
  8. Could the text be made simpler, rather than wildly reaching?
  9. It’s better to know, even if it’s bad news, than to be left hanging in limbo
  10. We keep trying to find a good system for storing our leeks through the winter. We’re very open to suggestions.


A mid-afternoon view of the Cocheco River running through Dover carries a forewarning of winter.
A mid-afternoon view of the Cocheco River running through Dover carries a forewarning of winter.