This year passages from Quaker Faith and Practice will alternate monthly with short poems by the American poet Carl Sandburg.
Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work-
I am the grass; I cover all.
And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?
I am the grass.
Let me work.
Film Night 24th November at 7pm at FMH Library
The Boy With The Striped Pyjamas– exploring the growing friendship between the son of a Nazi death camp commandant and a boy inside the fence- subtitles.
All the great war poets are men and I can think of just one poem by a woman that has achieved any great recognition:
What Were They Like?
1) Did the people of Viet Nam
use lanterns of stone?
2) Did they hold ceremonies
to reverence the opening of buds?
3) Were they inclined to quiet laughter?
4) Did they use bone and ivory ,
jade and silver for ornament?
5) Had they an epic poem?
6) Did they distinguish between speech and singing?
1) Sir, their light hearts turned to stone.
It is not remembered whether in gardens
stone lanterns illumined pleasant ways.
2) Perhaps they gathered once to delight in blossom
but after the children were killed
there were no more buds.
3) Sir, laughter is bitter to the burned mouth.
4) A dream ago, perhaps. Ornament is for joy.
All the bones were charred.
5) It is not remembered. Remember,
most were peasants; their life
was in rice and bamboo.
When peaceful clouds were reflected in the paddies
and the water buffalo stepped surely along terraces ,
maybe fathers told their sons old tales.
When bombs smashed those mirrors
there was time only to scream.
6) There is an echo yet
Of their speech which was like a song.
It was reported their singing resembled
the flight of moths in moonlight.
Who can say? It is silent now.
From the First World War:
In the still of night
Have we wept.
And our hearts, shattered and aching
In the cold, cold moonlight
Have we sobbed
And dreamed of what might have been
And our hearts have bled from stabs
Given unheeding .
We are the women who have suffered alone-
Alone and in silence.
Finally, from c1200 in China:
The Locust Swarm
Locusts laid their eggs in the corpse
Of a soldier. When the worms were
Mature, they took wing. Their drone
Was ominous, their shells hard.
Anyone could tell they had hatched
From an unsatisfied anger.
They flew swiftly towards the North.
They hid the sky like a curtain.
When the wife of the soldier
Saw them, she turned pale, her breath
Failed her. She knew he was dead
In battle, his corpse lost in
The desert. That night she dreamed
She rode a white horse, so swift
It left no footprints, and came
To where he lay in the sand.
She looked at his face, eaten
By the locusts, and tears of
Blood filled her eyes. Ever after
She would not let her children
Injure any insect which
Might have fed on the dead. She
Would lift her face to the sky
And say ‘O locusts, if you
Are seeking a place to winter,
You can find shelter in my heart’.
The poetess Hsu Chao .
From Quaker Faith and Practice 24.10- excerpts from the public statement of the yearly Meeting of New Zealand, 1987:
We totally oppose all wars, all preparation for war, all use of weapons and coercion by force, and all military alliances: no end could ever justify such means.
We equally and actively oppose all that leads to violence among people and nations, and violence to other species and to our planet.
We must start with our own hearts and minds. War will stop only when each of us is convinced that war is never the way.
The places to begin acquiring the skills and maturity and generosity to avoid or to resolve conflicts are in our own homes, our personal relationships, our schools, our work places, and wherever decisions are made.
We must relinquish the desire to own other people, to have power over them, and to force our views onto them. We must own up to our own negative side and not look for scapegoats to blame, punish or exclude.
Together let us reject the clamour of fear and listen to the whisperings of hope.
Now, back to our own Ipswich Meeting. Mike Medhurst has told me that last year he sold a hundred white poppies and could have sold more but for problems with suppliers. The Meeting was promoted on the Peace Pledge Union website and many, probably the majority, were purchased by those outside our Meeting, including one office inquiry. They are on sale again this year and here are a few extracts from the accompanying leaflet:
‘White Poppies For Peace made their first appearance on Armistice Day 1933. With the rising domestic and international tensions at the time, concern grew that the war to end all wars, in which so many had died or languished in prison for refusing to fight, would now be followed by an even worse war. The white poppy was an expression of this concern, particularly for women-many of whom were mothers, sisters, widows and sweethearts of men harmed in the First World War. …
It is a symbol of grief for everyone harmed by war but, more importantly, it represents a commitment to work for a world where conflicts will be resolved without violence and with justice’.
I am still waiting to see someone on television wearing a white poppy. Would it be permitted? Last year, on a local programme, I did see a person wearing both red and white poppies, which I suppose is one step forward.
Meeting House car park issues
Recently I had been ill and so decided that I could at least attend meeting for the last 1/2 hour if I used my motorbike. But I found on arriving that I was unable to access the car park on the motorbike. Cars had been parked rather haphazardly so that while there were large spaces one couldn’t get through to them. Having made the effort to come I felt very downhearted to have to return home and I later mentioned it to Elders who asked me to make some suggestions, not least because confusion with regard to parking is a continuing problem in general.
My first thought of course is to ask everyone to park considerately, or perhaps the right phrase is, with some imagination. In other words not to park so that others can’t reach otherwise available spaces.
While this may be enough to resolve things most of the time, my second thought was to come up with something a bit more organised as well – something more like a protocol to keep in mind.
It transpired that the reason I couldn’t access the car park was due to owners leaving their car in such a position so that they could leave sharp after meeting, or the opposite – leaving it in such a position so they could pop into town after meeting then come back for the car.
My thoughts on that are
1.that people who intend to leave sharp or indeed to hang around afterwards could consider parking on the road. This has been done in the past just because it saves the frustrations of either being blocked in or being hassled to move the car just as one is having such a good conversation and cuppa!
2. to leave one or two car spaces-worth at the entrance of the lower part of the car park for late comers. Certainly I could have got to meeting that time if there had been a space there.
I suggest adopting both options routinely, and with regard to parking on the road our treasurer said that if there is a problem with the costs of parking on the road the meeting can reimburse Friends as it is a cost incurred in attending Meeting for Worship (but not for popping into town!) if people keep their ticket.
I thought I’d just mention another option which is to copy the theatre I worked at which had a small car park. They had a coded key box on a wall in which everyone left their key and when there was a car in the way the relevant key could be accessed so that the car could be shifted a bit. This might not suit less confident Friends so may not be the solution for us. Otherwise I suggest a combination of the first two solutions. If anyone has any other ideas please discuss.
(By the way, just in case you were wondering – one just cannot park a big motorbike on Fonnereau Road with its steep camber and hill – side stand wouldn’t reach – plus a ticket is easily steal-able).
The doorkeeping rota was one of the agenda items at the August Business Meeting For Worship and after I have given a detailed account of what was involved I was asked to reproduce it in our newsletter- this is in note form:
10.20- be on the door and check the Meeting Room before anyone enters; sometimes flowers aren’t placed on the table so ask someone entering early to place any from a window shelf on the table, closer to 1030;
Greet everyone and offer a leaflet to any newcomers, preferably not the ‘welcome pack’ initially but make it available after 11.30 if the person is interested;
Dissuade conversation near the door once the meeting is gathered- direct any concerned to the Quiet Room or library;
Enter the Library to remind those inside that they have five minutes before the Meeting for Worship begins;
Show some flexibility after 10.30 then direct any latecomers to the Library;
Take latecomers in at 10.40 to coincide with any children leaving-this is sometimes 10.45;
Be aware of any ministry prior to latecomers entering and leave three to four minutes afterwards before entry- this also applies at 11.00;
Either enter yourself and sit just inside the door, so you can observe any arrivals or inquirers through the glass panels, or wait outside until 11.00 which gives more control over anything happening outside;
Be careful to ensure the internal swing doors are closed quietly as they will otherwise reverberate within the meeting;
After entry at 11.00 only ‘tiptoe’ out if there is an urgent matter to deal with- ask anyone needing to see the warden to return after 11.30 or take a message.
Collection this Month
Quaker Christmas Shelter
If you wish to donate but can’t attend at the Meeting House, please send a cheque to Rachel Bach made out to “Ipswich Quakers”. Please send this before the end of the month concerned.