Sunday, January 07, 2007

Simplicity - period ended 1.1.2006

Simplicity/Sacredness/Lang, Peter/Christmas kept sacred, simple/Newark Star Ledger/Newark/NJ/USA/23-Dec-05//…At the Quaker meeting house in Chatham, there are no Christmas decorations to mark the season. On Christmas Day, the service will be the same as it is on other Sundays, as members gather for an hour of silence.

As Christians, Quakers believe Christmas, which celebrates the birth of Christ, is a sacred day, but they believe every other day of the year is equally sacred. To place a special emphasis on Christmas would devalue other days, their religion teaches.

"As a Quaker, we reflect on the fact that every day is a holy day," said Peter Lang of Morristown at a candle-lighting ceremony last Sunday, the meeting house's only formal bow to Christmas. "Every day is a day we can celebrate the birth of Christ. Every day is a day we can celebrate God's love in every circumstance and every person." ...... To most Americans, Quakers are known more for being conscientious objectors to military service, and for a popular oatmeal brand, than for simplicity.

But Quakerism, founded in the 17th century in England, counts simplicity among its most important "testimonies," or beliefs, along with truth, peace and equality.

Quakers -- there are about 87,000 of them in the United States -- commonly interpret simplicity as an avoidance of materialism, and as an embrace of plainness, spirituality and charity. Centuries ago, Quakers could be identified by the Spartan coats and dresses they wore.

Yet Quakers do not isolate themselves from society, and this time of year, in this day and age, simplicity can seem hard to come by. Many Quakers said they view their regular Sunday meetings, at which nobody talks unless feeling divinely inspired, as a welcome break from an otherwise raucous world.

"The stillness and the quietness is a respite from the business of the season," said Kristen Richardson of Livingston. "Even if you're not someone who goes out and spends a lot of money ... you can't help but feel the pace does pick up this time of year, the advertising, the shops, the traffic. The meetings provide a balance or a counterpoint to that. To just reflect."

At home, many Quakers celebrate the holiday by decorating and giving presents but many said they try to avoid excess.

Kathy Thomas, who is serving a two-year term as the Chatham meeting house clerk, said she still uses a Christmas tree her husband made decades ago from a pole. The only wreath she hangs, she said, she bought from a relative in Maine. ....... "I know that making these wreathes is part of her sustenance," she said.

The end result is a Christmas that Quakers said is often less frenzied, with lower bills, fewer trips, fewer parties and fewer trips to the mall.

"Simplicity today I think has as much to do with trying to not get overcommitted as it does with reducing your possessions," said Arlene Johnson, a longtime member of the Summit Meeting House, the name of the Chatham place of worship. "I think that's one of your biggest challenges, to not be overcommitted so you don't have time or energy or lose your focus or your centeredness." ...... "I wouldn't say that I have learned how to do that. I work on that all the time."

In many ways, Quaker aversion to Christmastime excess mirrors the feelings of others who try to avoid being overwhelmed during the season.

"I had to brave the mall (last week)," said Mia Kissil Hewitt of Bernardsville, who goes to the Summit Meeting House. "I took my oldest daughter with me, she's 5. I told her, 'I don't really like going to malls very much. I'm going to make it as fun for you as I can, but know I'm not going to be having too much fun here.'

"When we came out, she said, 'I didn't really like it either, it was too much walking, too crowded.'"

The Summit Meeting House's Christmas candle ceremony began at 11 a.m. last Sunday with 15 minutes of silence, as more than 80 people filed into eight sets of benches surrounding a low-lying table.

Then a woman stood up, walked to the table, lit a candle and said: "This candle is to remind me that life is good."

Dozens followed, one by one, setting their own candles on the table, lighting them, and either returning silently to their seats or uttering a few words:

"We light this candle for those who have joy and those who are struggling and those who have plenty and those who have nothing."

"I celebrate light and the darkness we go through to get to it."

"I light this candle for my grandmother who passed away this past year."

When it ended at noon, nearly 60 candles were lit on the table. The ceremony, a tradition dating to the early 1990s at the Summit Meeting House, was followed by a pot luck lunch.

While the ceremony was widely considered successful, some worshipers at the Summit Meeting House said they were wary of singling out one day a year for special attention to Jesus' birth.

"Every day is a sacred day," said Eva Gardo of Kinnelon, a member for a decade. "This has become an annual thing, and we all love it. But we need to think about why are we doing this, and why are we doing this now and not any other day. Because every other day is also a sacred day." …….

Simplicity/No-Frills//Local Quakers celebrate holiday in simple, spontaneous tradition/Santa Cruz Sentinel/Santa Cruz/CA/USA/25-Dec-05//…SANTA CRUZ — On a recent Sunday morning at the Quaker Meetinghouse, there is no sign of the mad scramble that typically defines the holiday season.

In a large, minimally furnished room, about 40 people, dressed in everyday street clothes, sit meditatively in almost total silence around a beautiful amaryllis placed in the center of the circle of worshippers. There is no altar, no pews, no minister, no gilded crosses or stained glass windows or organ music — in fact, nothing that brings to mind a typical pre-Christmas church celebration. ...

Simplicity/Meetinghouse//Church celebrates 200th anniversary of founder’s birth/Valley City Times Record/Valley City/ND/USA/22-Dec-05//... Church members worship in chapels we often call meetinghouses. They're quite plain, and maybe even a little reminiscent of old Quaker meetinghouses. ...

Simplicity/Meetinghouse//An enlightening tour/Baltimore Sun/Baltimore/MD/USA/24-Dec-05//The tour will offer glimpses into stately gothic architecture, a 21st-century cathedral and a humble brick meeting house that has served the Quaker community since 1771.

Simplicity/Architecture//Families focus on reason for season/Daytona Beach News-Journal/Daytona/FL/USA/24-Dec-05//... tree earrings in December. For about one week, the Haughwouts decorate their Quaker-style house inside and out. Whether it's a handmade ...


Post a Comment

<< Home