Longing for Peace
“Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven.”
Psalm 85:10-11 (NIV)
make me an instrument of your peace
bread in the hands of the hungry
blanket for those who are cold
water for the thirsty.
make me an instrument of your justice
a voice that proclaims joy and hope
an artisan of liberation
capable of transforming the cruel reality of everyday life
into gardens of peace and solidarity.
Sprit that dwells within us,
make me an instrument of your love
an open heart for listening and companionship
a balm for those who are discarded
for those who live under the weight of loneliness.
Spirit that dwells in the heart
where transformation is brewing,
make me an instrument of community and work
a living kiss of righteousness and peace
a soft and humble prayer carried by the fire
that illuminates and warms all life.
On Active Hope
The pattern of injustice and violence that we experience in the world is a sad and depressing sign of our unwillingness to embrace a path to love. It is as if we have not learned our lessons or as if we are not interested at all in getting insights from the wounds in our history. We’re not only continuing to harm ourselves as individuals, but our ignorance and selfishness are provoking major disruptions to other living beings, including the planet that hosts and nurtures us.
As people of faith, we know that love isn’t just possible, but it is a tangible and transforming reality that must guide our action. My conviction as a Friend encourages me to be a living testimony of peace and justice, grounded in that which is the most sacred and eternal. These testimonies call me to radically embrace what activist Joanna Macy calls “active hope” as a creative way for manifesting love.
It is essential to remain hopeful and to spark possibilities within us and our communities. Hope as a spiritual practice allows us to have full awareness of our gifts and limitations as we work toward our personal and social transformation. Practicing hope as actions that aren’t just implied in our aspirations offers us an opportunity to be in relationship with our deepest self and with others as we create a better world– a world where our experience of community, justice, participation, and care for one another are in constant evolution. This is a faithful call to re-create ourselves as we shift from a paradigm of power as domination and control to a paradigm of power as service, compassion, and solidarity.
Let me share with you an example about my own journey with active hope.
Many years ago, I was a young brother living in a poor neighborhood in Guatemala City at the end of the civil war in Guatemala. I was part of a team of six brothers that every week went to a public school in our community to teach and accompany the students and teachers. Those kids were our neighbors, and they were exposed to so much structural violence: domestic, social, economic, etc. Our small group of brothers was fully invested in generating tools for community resilience while being dedicated to accompanying the kids that were affected the most from violence. We implicated ourselves in creating space for cooperation inside and outside the school as we also addressed some basic needs for protecting the kids. I personally was involved in providing guidance to a family that was heavily affected by domestic abuse and alcoholism, and with support from others I helped my student and her mother to be safe while they could gain some economic independence in support of their wellbeing. Though there was violence and suffering all around us, our group continued to leverage our hope towards actions that would protect, support, and empower each other and the rest of the community. We were planting the seeds of possibility by creating an environment where we could live the values and principles of peace in our community. Instead of hoping that the environment would change, we hoped to make those changes; we did not surrender to our failures but learned from them as we acted with integrity, making ourselves vulnerable in the process of transformation, and as we together envisioned a more loving experience of self, family, and society.
From experiences like this one, I refuse to believe that our failures in creating a more just and peaceful world are the dominant narrative in our lives. In my own dance with the Divine and with you, I have learned that our possibilities for love and justice are unlimited and that we have a long way ahead as we continue our personal and shared journey toward peace.
Friends, let us not be beaten down by the ridiculous and horrendous realities that we are facing today. On the contrary, let’s embrace the radicality of active hope and transform those realities into beauty, community, peace, and justice. Let us be guided by the love we seek and let us be a humble testimony of life as we co-create our present and future.
Nurturing the Beloved Community
Community is a fertile ground where we can form and shape our values and beliefs and put them into action. Our entire life is supported, in one way or another, by the experience of community. However, this does not necessarily imply that as individuals we are intentionally invested in community. For many reasons, many of us hold a concept of community that is disconnected from the process of personal and group transformation, which is an essential element for mutual growth. As well, many of us struggle to accept that in community we must face conflict in order to strengthen our relationships as we learn from one another and as we practice solidarity and love. In the context of many faith communities, balancing the self with the other can lead us toward deepening our relationship with the Divine as we recognize that the dwelling place of the most sacred is with-in us.
Very often, I found myself wondering about my own contribution to community. I ask myself: “How do I create space for learning, working, and praying in the company of others, and how does this inform my personal journey?” “Do I embrace community with a strong sense of justice, belonging, diversity, and inclusion?” “Do I accept and welcome others as equals?” “Does my experience of community inform my relationship with nature?” “How do I open myself to others?” These are just some of the queries that accompany me as I seek the Beloved Community: A society where each person is treated with dignity and respect as an act of love. In other words, the Beloved Community can be understood as a social order guided by justice, peace, and care for one another and nature as the fundamental principles behind our political and economic systems.
Nurturing this kind of community requires us to be open to examine ourselves, our social structures and history, and to be willing to change whatever is holding us back from reaching a better place for common understanding, inclusion, and diversity. We can nurture the Beloved Community by dedicating energy to our spiritual practices as we respond to today’s most pressing issues of violence, inequality, climate disruption, and racism. I believe that we become a true testimony of healing and liberation when we do our best to dismantle any form of injustice and discrimination within our communities, and when we commit ourselves to work out our differences together as we build an inclusive and welcoming society. This is an authentic way to put our love and faith into action.
I have no doubt that creating space for nurturing the Beloved Community was, somehow, what inspired Friends to create the holy experiment that we call Pendle Hill 93 years ago. I know that our walk toward the Beloved Community is always in progress, and as we celebrate the history of this special place, I express my deep gratitude for your companionship during these years. I invite you to dedicate some time to reflect on your own experience in nurturing the Beloved Community. Let’s be prophetic witnesses of “what love can do” and support one another in our shared journey.
On Generosity and Gratitude
Practicing generosity deepens our connections to self, to others, and to the divine. It is a loving way to exercise care and solidarity. Being generous with ourselves as we experience compassion and joy can be a very special step toward renewal and wholeness. As well, being generous with our time and resources can support and sustain the communities that accompany us in the journey toward building a better world. This is something that I have witnessed and benefited from as I open myself to Spirit and work with others to cultivate Beloved Community.
An act of generosity can transform lives and help us better understand the needs of our communities. It can foster our spirituality, expand our views on justice and equity, and support us in learning about how to better care for our planet, our neighbors, and ourselves. I invite you to take a moment to breathe on this thought. I encourage you to look at your life through the lens of generosity and gratitude, reflect on this, and invite others to do the same. I have no doubt that engaging in conversation with friends can be another simple act of generosity and gratitude as we build community together.
At Pendle Hill, generosity and gratitude are two main ingredients for nurturing the environment we aim to create and preserve in this “holy experiment.” I know that our daily rhythm is full of kind acts of generosity and gratitude, which has been essential in maintaining our institution as the sanctuary it is. As we close this fiscal year, I invite you to support Pendle Hill. Keep us in your hearts as we create space for faithfulness, community, and learning, and please consider making your contribution today to keep this special place alive.
Returning to the Fountain
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.”
There are times in our lives when we must pause and examine ourselves as an act of faithfulness and as we attend to our personal and communal needs. Such a pause is critical for transforming our lives as we work in creating a better world. I describe this faithful act of pausing and examination as returning to the fountain, a practice in which I seek and remain open to the Spirit as I embrace the fullness of my daily life. This has been an essential practice during my humble and imperfect service among Friends. Returning to the fountain allows me to contemplate in simple and practical ways many moments of celebration, acceptance, reflection, and action, and to weave them into the larger quilt of the aspired Beloved Community.
Returning to the fountain can be a powerful alternative in circumstances where our social fabric seems to be broken due to the perpetuation of violence, injustices, and inequalities. I have no doubt that our current moment in history requires us to look at our realities in their full complexities and linkages, especially if we want to find peaceful and common solutions to our most pressing problems. I see this as an urgent call to create space for listening and engaging in dialogue, expanding our desire for common understanding with the full intention of honoring the dignity of each person so that we can re-create our own humanity.
As people of faith, the practice of returning to the fountain helps us deepen our experience of the Divine as we listen to one another, as we work together in building community, and as we trust an energy that is bigger than ourselves. As a Friend, I believe this is a practice that we must all share as we engage and participate in the life of our local communities and as we “let our lives speak.” I also know that the process of pausing, examining, and being open is key for self and communal transformation, and should not be perceived as a lack of action. On the contrary, it is a process that seeks to sustain us in our active life as we become a testimony of compassion and care, and as we live with integrity and with a strong sense of solidarity. It is a practice in which we search ourselves with honesty by asking deep questions without being afraid of not finding an immediate answer, and trusting the learning journey on which we embark.
My hope and invitation are that we continue creating space for this type of practice for ourselves and for our communities as we “pant for the streams of water” of healing, justice, and love.
Pendle Hill: A Place for Love and Inclusion
For more than nine decades, Pendle Hill has served as a fertile ground for personal and communal transformation, but this often comes with certain challenges. We have worked to create a respectful and safe space for exploring hard conversations and conflicting worldviews while remaining faithful to seeking divine guidance in the process. This practice has been tested in our history, and within those moments we have created space for learning and support: two critical components of our Quaker faith and practice as we contribute to the Beloved Community.
Recently, Pendle Hill welcomed a group to campus that promotes certain principles and values that are very distant from our own. While the group was respectful during its time here, there was a very real fear and discomfort among the staff community because of this group’s public statements about our friends in the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as its political views on the state of our fragile democracy. These views were far from our mission as a Quaker study, retreat, and conference center that aims to advance peace and justice in the world.
From my own humbled journey, I know that the ways we respond to conflict in our lives are informed by our experiences, our emotions, perceptions, and environments. Sometimes, it is very difficult for us to reach clarity when we are in distress. How we let our emotions inform our actions can be the difference between supporting or destroying our communities. This is particularly true in situations when our experiences are accompanied and ignited by socio-political tensions in which fundamental rights, justice, peace, and/or our integrity are at stake. Responding to those situations from a place of compassion and hope requires a commitment to seeing others as people who carry within them the seed of divine love. This is not an easy task, but it is one that we must embrace when cultivating the Beloved Community.
At Pendle Hill, we remain committed to maintaining our campus and our online platforms as spaces for faithful and transformative work in which our values of inclusion, respect, and belonging are practiced and encouraged. We are very proud of being a community that welcomes, protects, and supports those doing the necessary social and environmental justice work toward dismantling any form of discrimination, and we are unequivocally invested in fostering and welcoming groups and activities that aim to contribute to a non-violent, inclusive, and just society.
Nudged by Love
One of the most beautiful and transformative experiences that is constant in my life at Pendle Hill is the accompaniment of a community that dares to be hopeful in the face of any challenge. This is a community that remains faithful to the movement of the Spirit, despite physical distance and many uncertainties in our lives. I have seen love in action as many of us in the Pendle Hill community face the loss of loved ones, encounter health issues, struggle in our personal journey with the Divine, or respond to pressing financial needs. It is clear to me that this ‘holy experiment’ is a plain call to reimagine what is possible with love and the courage to realize it.
I cannot count the many occasions when I found myself nudged by love where I started with a closed-off-ness, not recognizing the fertile ground for mutual accompaniment and transformation. I also confess to you that there have been times in which fear has prevented me from embracing and welcoming the gentle but clear divine invitation to hold space for solidarity, care, compassion, and justice. In these times, I have tried to keep Paul’s words to the Roman community in mind: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God.” (Romans 8: 38-39 NIV). Even when we fail to answer the call to divine love, we still have the opportunity to recognize the love that surrounds and connects us all.
I have no doubt that the nudges of love have been part of your life as well. Think for a moment about your relationships, your faith community, your callings; the person that, without many words, is fully present in your life. Think about the many gestures of kindness, support, and care that you receive. We can hold these beautiful experiences in our hearts as a sacrament of what is possible with love. Opening ourselves to be nudged by love and to explore its possibilities is what we strive to do at Pendle Hill as we create space for community, deep transformation, learning, and faithfulness. I am convinced that our small Quaker retreat center is a living laboratory for personal and social change, especially when we witness how difficult it is for certain communities to be open to diversity or how slowly we have advanced in our steps toward peace and justice. I hold the conviction in my heart that love is the way forward and that opening ourselves to the nudges of love is an integral step on the path to recognizing the divine presence in everything.
In the Light,
On Community and Hope
I recently had the opportunity to accompany Arizona’s Half-Yearly Meeting as Friends were exploring the dynamic path of developing community through spiritual practice. It was very refreshing to gather in worship as we tried to be faithful to the Spirit, listen to and address the pressing needs of our time. I was moved by the power of a community growing deeper and stronger during our time together.
Developing community is an essential step for transformation which requires us to be open to others, with the conviction that the seed of goodness is in each heart. This can be challenging when differences of opinion, experience, or background pull us apart as we try to understand and address challenges as a community. As Quakers, we know how difficult it can be to engage in communal discernment; yet, we also experience how joyful and rewarding it is when we address our concerns and problems with unity. Deliberations of this type can create a strong sense of belonging and openness, incarnating the experience of being with the Divine – always expected and welcomed as we are. Building community in this way is what I usually refer to as the roots of hope taking action within us. These roots can grow into a hope that goes beyond our short sightedness, bringing new perspectives on how to live with integrity and solidarity as we build a better world.
I experience this hope in the potential of community in my service to Pendle Hill, as I and colleagues undertake the ministry of welcoming people, stewarding nature, creating space for learning, faithfulness, and deep transformation, and partnering with other organizations to work towards justice and peace. I know we are not alone in this sacred work of building community. I invite you to embrace hope as we continue supporting one another and as we dedicate our energy to transform and create a better world for all.
This is You
February 22, 2023
My stillness in turbulent times
my loaf of bread
my warm beverage on cold mornings
my shelter and dry towel.
The sustaining physics behind my clay vessel
the note that defines my music
my Gabriel’s Oboe
my Leaves of Grass.
This is You
in the breath of those that cannot breathe.
my restorative land
my unrecognizable neighbor
always near and, yet, so far from my heart.
My fountain of hope
the poetry that nurtures my garden
the bird’s song that shakes my indifference.
This is You
before me as a simple lentil soup.
You on the road
with that piece of cardboard speaking loudly to my soul.
the flower that brings colors to my days
my companion in the journey
the cinnamon in my oatmeal
my baseball hat and my Sun
the sap that runs through my veins
the roots that connect us all
the canopy of my thoughts
This is You
The strength in my fragility
the small resurrection in my daily rhythm
my water and my rock
my beauty so ancient and so new
the humble touch in a smile
the justice that seasons my peace
you my love
the ocean that always arrives at my sand.
The Shadow of Violence
February 1, 2023
Many years ago, as I was going to catch a bus on my way to my college campus, I saw a large group of people at the bus station’s parking lot. I approached them, curious to see what was going on. It was a street fight between two men from my neighborhood in Guatemala City. I was not surprised; in my community we were constantly dealing with gang members, drug dealers, and many perpetrators and victims from the spiral of violence that permeated our daily lives. In fact, what stayed with me from that episode was not the fight between my neighbors, but that they paused long enough to consider and agree to move to a different location to keep fighting, and yet no one, including me, was able to step in to stop them from resuming their violence. That generated in me a sense of impotence against violence that has accompanied me in my own journey to peace.
I think about the spiral of violence that is so present in our world today, and it generates within me a strong indignation. Have we not learned from history? The shadow of violence associated with police brutality, occupation, and war has manifested in peoples’ lives with atrocities like forced displacement, hunger, and death for ages, continuing into the present. I hold in my heart many memories of voices and faces from people that have encountered the shadow of violence. Their suffering is a loud cry that we must hear, heal, and transform as a concrete step towards peace and justice.
We are now increasingly understanding the ways that the shadow of human violence threatens all life on this planet, including our own. The pain that we provoke is perpetuated by patterns of behavior that make us indifferent and distant from one another, from nature, from the Divine. And yet, we must continue working to transform those realities. Limited and imperfect though our tools may be (as mine were in that moment in the parking lot), we must persist with the radical hope that nonviolence and justice are possible. How can we keep walking the path of love in our common journey? Are we open to transform our lives and support one another to create a better world? Are we listening to the ‘small still voice’ that brings light into our lives? Are we ready to dismantle the shadow of violence in our personal and social lives?
I invite you hold these queries in your heart as we confront our realities with faithfulness and courage, seeking a peaceful and just world.
Pax et bonum,
The Joy and the Provocation of “God-With(in)-Us”
December 21, 2022
Cold days and long, dark nights have arrived at Pendle Hill. This season always stirs a strong desire for contemplation in me, and I find myself drawn to consider the dispossessed among us. All too often I am numb to their cries. Perhaps you, like me, find yourself turning down or tuning out their sorrows and strife or scrolling quickly past troubling images in the latest newsfeed – they sneak back into mind during a daily walk or errand, but perhaps we have not taken time to stop and look with openness and solidarity. Or perhaps you know what it is like to find yourself professing with words that which you have not acted upon as necessary to transform our reality. When I find myself dwelling in contemplations and (in)actions such as these, I bring myself back to the biblical concept of Emmanuel, which is typically translated as “God-with-us;” I, given my Quaker convictions, prefer “God-with(in)-us.”
“Emmanuel” appears in four places in the bible, mostly involving the prophecy of Isaiah, in which God promises a sign to prove God’s presence among the people of David, despite the peoples’ disbelief in God’s protection. In the present day, I think of Emmanuel as a force that is manifested within each of us and invites us to participate in the acts – large and small, prosaic and extraordinary – that contribute to the realization of a just world; a world where the promise of peace is possible, where we can recognize each other face to face as equals and work together to dismantle the deepest and most subtle structures of oppression at every level of our society, including faith community.
Embracing the God-with(in)-us in times of great multi-faceted societal challenge is an invitation to re-create hope; hope as an openness to the Spirit; hope as an expression of our commitment to faithfully walk the path of personal and communal discernment; hope as a process of transformation in which we become participants in God’s own dream.
The simple radicality of Emmanuel is a call to start walking with a God-who-always-is, abandoning the illusion of separateness. It is being en-route, in the messy close company of others, traversing the hardest and darkest roads while seeking out the signs of the sacred – liberatory truth, humility, care for oneself and others, the small gestures of love that restore our dignity as children of the divine. Here arises the God-who-always-is – a tiny light sprouts along the way and makes us jump for joy, reminding us that not all is lost, that in the midst of terror and misery, we must proclaim and realize the Beloved Community. It is that tiny light that gives us the strength to continue weaving that other possible world which lives in the very heart of creation.
May the joy and disconcerting provocation of God-with(in)-us encourage us all to continue opening paths of solidarity, compassion, and justice in this, our world, that cries out for liberation.
October 26, 2022
It is no secret that we all are confronted with challenges in many aspects of our lives at this time, both individually and collectively. Numerous concerns compel us to take a position – we cannot claim neutrality in good conscience. Of course, one result of this is the multiple polarizations that we face nationally, globally, and even at home in our local communities. I firmly believe that we need to create space for the Beloved Community as we try to respond to the pressing social needs of this time, and I believe that this requires us to reimagine ourselves. I do not suggest that we suddenly abandon our political, religious, or economic views but rather that we reach for community with those with whom we disagree or experience difference, dialoguing, listening, and learning from and about each other. These are powerful tools that we have at hand to advance mutual understanding.
Creating the Beloved Community at its core requires us to reimagine our sense of belonging, which can be a deep exercise of faith. It asks us to know that every single person is a unique expression of the Divine and to accept and celebrate each person as such. This is not a mere conceptual framework. It is a truth that touches every aspect of our personal and communal lives as Quakers. Within Friends, this is a truth that we must ruminate upon as we examine ourselves, discern, and practice our social witnesses as manifestations of our spiritual covenant.
A community that embraces belonging as a core value welcomes diversity not as a quota of membership but as a spiritual practice that bends toward equity and draws the Beloved Community closer. This implies seeing each other as equal and being open to accompanying one another in our search for personal and societal healing. A community where belonging is lived as a path to reparation and re-creation, and as a practice of solidarity and active hope. The world loudly cries for this type of community; standing aside is not an option.
I do not pretend that this is easy. Engaging difference can be deeply troubling work. However, when done in the context of community and faithfulness, it can also be deeply transformative. Spreading the seed of belonging as we accept, celebrate, and fully embrace our own and others’ humanity is an act of love that can transform us and can change the ways we relate to one another, the natural world, and Spirit. Let us be brave and create space for reimagining belonging as we seek peace and justice, and as we faithfully listening to the Spirit in our journey toward wholeness.
September 29, 2022
I have a deep sense of gratitude as we enter the second month of our new fiscal year. Gratitude for you, for my colleagues, and for the many Friends that continue walking with us on the path of this holy experiment. Despite the many challenges we have faced in this transition period, we remain hopeful and embrace our ministry with courage, openness, and faithfulness. This month, I share with you a poem and I do this with deep gratitude for the Beloved Community we are co-creating at Pendle Hill as we sow the seeds of this holy garden.
A drop of water
condensation of divine love
the frogs’ songs as the air cools to welcome the evening
kids playing, birds dancing
the newspaper in my hands full of emptiness
lack of joy
raise my heart
recognize the still and small voice
a melody of solidarity
a tune of nonviolence
a note of transformation
as if I cannot avoid the symphony of life
I got scared.
A fresh air brings me back to the breathing
and within it
an ocean of faces, hands,
as its wave carries a revolution
and I feel in my face
a drop of water
the condensation of divine love.
Faith, Community, and Stewardship
August 24, 2022
The Beloved Community is a practical aspiration to which I feel deeply committed. Community is an essential space in which we learn and exercise how to love, how to be members to one another, how to practice solidarity as we strive to make the world a better place. This sense of community is rooted in a deep faith that is nurtured by personal and communal spiritual practices that aim to discover and honor “that of God” within people and within nature.
My experience of faith, community, and the natural world have moved and supported me in expanding my views on the complex realities that we face today, inspiring optimism despite the many challenges in front of us. I have found in community a faith that is open to “continuing revelation” as we dance with the Spirit despite how hard the floor can be. I have learned in solitude and in community how to savor the natural world as I savor my relationship with the Divine, both in support of personal and communal transformation. In service of these efforts, I often walk with queries such as: How do I steward my active presence in community? How do I care for my relationship with nature? How do I support healing, justice, and peace in myself, my community, and the world? How do I continue opening myself for the “eternal light” to search and transform me?
For me, Pendle Hill is a holy exploration of faith, community, and stewardship informed by a sacred and thriving ecology of land, plants, and animals. Within this living community, I have found companionship, love, and Friendship as I face transitions in my life. I know that this support has been possible thanks to the trust and commitment expressed by you, the extended Pendle Hill community. It was thanks to you that we were able to welcome back a new residential program and resumed our in-person learning opportunities for Spirit-led growth, discernment, and action. Thanks to you, we re-introduced honeybees on campus and expanded our organic garden production, benefiting our hospitality services and the local food bank. And thanks to you we will soon be expanding our holy experiment through “The Seed,” an upcoming podcast of engaging conversations for radical hope.
I celebrate with gratitude your Friendship as we close this fiscal year and invite you to keep walking with us on this evolving journey in faith, community, and stewardship.
Pax et bonum,
Creating Space for Contemplation
July 28, 2022
There have been times in my life when I questioned my relationship with the divine. Times when everything around me seemed to have an enormous weight. When I look back at those moments, I asked myself: What did sustain me? How aware was I of being held by something greater than me? What space did I create for my community within those moments?
When we go through difficulties we can easily be trapped in desolation, sadness, and hopelessness. It is hard to find meaning when we experience circumstances that challenge our physical integrity, our social aspirations and core beliefs, our relationships or our environment. For some people, the present moment is extremely painful given the societal strains we are facing. It can be very hard to envision peace as we witness rising gun violence and war that appears endless and promotes a culture that centers profit and brings death and destruction around the globe. It is difficult to foresee justice when our ideological polarizations are heavily mined with ideas and decisions that diminish our human dignity and the wellbeing of our planet, creating a more difficult path for reparation and equality.
For me, embracing a spiritual practice has been essential to maintain my own sanity as I confront difficult times with hope and a commitment to transformation. One of these spiritual practices for me is simply creating space for contemplation in my days. This contemplative practice not only helps me to expand my relationship with the divine, but also allows me to explore new perspectives for how to respond to our societal problems and remain engaged in the re-creation of community. At Pendle Hill, I have found a unique environment that fosters such exploration. Here I experience a living and dynamic love that is manifested in small actions, which bury themselves in my heart as the seeds of wholeness, truth, and solidarity that expand and sustain me. I am so grateful for Pendle Hill and the space for contemplation that we provide here, and I eagerly await the opportunity to expand our hospitality for the exploration of transformative contemplation for peace, community, and justice this fall as we increase our occupancy and become able to host more visitors to our serene campus.
I invite you to remain committed to your spiritual practice as we live through this challenging time. Also, I encourage you to participate in activities that expand your sense of belonging and that support you on your exploration of love. Finally, I invite you to join me in supporting Pendle Hill financially as we seek to make this holy experiment available to welcome all for Spirit-led transformation.
With love and gratitude,
NB: Pendle Hill’s fiscal year ends August 31. As always, please consult with your attorney or tax adviser regarding your specific legal or financial situation.
A Year of Openings… and Not a Few Challenges
June 29, 2022
This has been a year of openings for Pendle Hill – in March we officially re-opened the campus, re-launched Pendle Hill’s signature Resident Student Program, re-hired staff across several departments, and worked tirelessly to bring individuals and groups back to campus. And in April we launched a $20,000 1:1 Matching Gift Opportunity that raised over $30,000 through the end of June. Thank you to everyone who participated and to our two matching gift donors.
Coming back from the many operational and financial challenges brought on by the COVID pandemic has not been easy, but we’ve been buoyed by the generous financial support the Pendle Hill community has demonstrated during the past two years. Our efforts this year have been successful on many levels, but it is still going to be a challenge to balance our budget at the end of this fiscal year (August 31).
With two months remaining in this fiscal year, Pendle Hill still needs to raise $120,000 in unrestricted support by August 31. Please consider the ways you might be able to help provide essential support for FY 2022:
- Outright gift of cash or credit card. Go to pendlehill.org/donate to make an online gift or send your check in the mail. You can also use this site to become a Monthly Sustainer. Just click the “Recurring Gift” link on the Donate page.
- If you are 70 ½ or older, you may make a Qualified Charitable Distribution directly from your IRA, payable to Pendle Hill, which can help reduce the tax impact of Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) income. For information, contact your IRA custodian.
- Do you have a Donor Advised Fund? You can request that your sponsoring organization make a donation to Pendle Hill!
- Gifts of appreciated securities and mutual fund shares may be transfered directly to Pendle Hill, avoiding the capital gains tax. E-mail Barbara Price Monahan, Interim Director of Advancement, at email@example.com, to request written transfer instructions.
Thank you for considering a gift today. With your help, Pendle Hill will continue to be a welcoming center for Spirit-led learning, retreat, and community; a place of renewal, connection, deep listening, and exploration.
NB: Pendle Hill’s fiscal year ends August 31. As always, please consult with your attorney or tax adviser regarding your specific legal or financial situation.
Faith and Community on Trial
May 24, 2022
Roberta A. Drury, Margus D. Morrison, Andre Mackneil, Aaron Salter, Geraldine Talley, Celestine Chaney, Heyward Patterson, Katherine Massey, Pearl Young, and Ruth Whitfield.
As I have whispered these names of the victims of the racist mass-murder in a Buffalo grocery store in my daily worship for the past days, I’ve felt once again deeply wounded by racism and the violence of our world. We know how white supremacy perpetuates violence in both broad and very personal ways: poverty, inequity, discrimination, injury, murder, and insult, for instance. These patterns and this event in particular are deeply rooted in beliefs that are so distant from the creation of the Beloved Community that I sometimes find my commitment to remain engaged in the work of self and communal transformation is tested. Today it feels as if my faith and my sense of community were on trial. How will they stand up under the cross-examination of the coming days, weeks, and years of living in this world and seeking a better one? I think about the people I’ve named above, their families, and their communities. I reflect about Buffalo and its social reality, and I hold this in my heart.
Our faith welcomes and celebrates the strong belief that the Divine is present in each person. This is a radical statement in which it is implicit that we must support one another in learning how to walk through the world inviting diversity, nonviolence, and inclusion into our communities. The Divine’s presence in each person requires an exploration of justice as we seek to re-create our communities thusly.
As people aiming for justice and social reparation, we know that we must constantly examine our lives and engage in transformative practices to bring justice and peace to our communities. And as people of faith, we must do it together, in community. Faith and community in our current moment constitute a call to active hope and a reaffirmation of mutual accompaniment. Each one of us have discovered wonderful practices to support our life journeys. In this moment and as we confront our many challenges, I recite with the Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral that:
“I believe in my heart that when
The wounded heart sunk within the depth of God sings
It rises from the pond alive
As if new-born.”
Let us continue working toward justice together as a concrete act of love grounded in our faith. I pray that our efforts shape a better world, representing a resounding verdict.
A Strange Proclamation
March 23, 2022
“How beautiful on the mountain
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace.”
Ice melting on the ground
awaits the sunlight.
A little ant appears
carrying with her the breadcrumbs of yesterday.
Nothing seems to disturb the early hours
but I know
and you know
that so many things get between the hands and the heart
between the mouth and the brain
between the level of melanin and equality.
You know as I know
that there is a vast artificial distance that separates
that invisibilizes our otherness.
A distance so embedded into our way of living
that can paralyze us.
I’ve seen that distance rising within me
ignoring the goodness in humanity
turning my back to the Divine.
I’ve consumed that distance in Flint’s water
and smelled it in the gun of a border patrol officer in San Diego.
I’ve fed that distance in so many ways
that I lost my sense of belonging.
But I know
and you know
that we can learn how to love
by carrying our breadcrumbs from yesterday
to be there for one another
with the persistence and resistance of the grass
open to the warm touch of the sunlight
letting peace bloom
as the bird of justice welcomes a new day.
On Facing Transitions
February 24, 2022
Life is full of changes and transitions. I name both change and transition, as I (informed by some great thinkers, like William Bridges) have come to think of them as very separate though related phenomena, with change referring to a specific event while transition is more an internal process that involves our emotions, thoughts, and willingness to welcome change. Sometimes we find ourselves in the midst of uncomfortable changes that challenge us as they introduce great uncertainty. In those situations, we may discover a profound limitation in our ability to navigate change with integrity, compassion, and courage. This is when being aware of the transition – our own internal process around a change – is critical. This path for self-exploration, creativity, and redefinition is not just a secular exercise but a deep transformative spiritual practice for personal and communal growth. Indeed, cultivating our interior lives in support of change may be regarded as a spiritual practice for transition as we welcome and learn to move forward with the changes in our lives.
Pendle Hill is undergoing a time of change that gives all of us in this beloved community the opportunity to engage in this spiritual practice with attention to transition. As we seek to restore guest activities fully back to our campus, we are bringing on many new or returning roles and colleagues – a great blessing! At the same time, we have to say goodbye to some colleagues whose lives have pulled them in other directions. For instance, several months ago, our Director of Advancement followed a leading to go to graduate school; our current Director of Operations recently got married and is looking forward to moving some distance away to live with his partner; and our Director of Finance is looking forward to retiring sometime during the summer. All of these changes come with some sadness on all sides, but also clarity that the time is right, and I celebrate these next steps in my dear colleagues’ lives. I am also making space for the spiritual practice of transition, allowing the many thoughts and feelings to come through and welcoming the change – new hires with fresh perspectives and vitality to bring to the mission of Pendle Hill.
I welcome you to join me in this powerful spiritual practice of holding transition, both in your own life and in your connection with Pendle Hill, as we hold together the many blessings and challenges of change in community with openness, gratitude, and trust in the Spirit that sustains us.
January 27, 2022
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”
These days, as we continue learning how to cope with the many unfolding realities of a global pandemic, I find it essential to focus on nurturing faithfulness. The Quaker tradition of contemplating queries assists me in this effort. I ask myself, how am I taking care of my relationships? How am I practicing compassion, especially in unjust situations? How do I open myself to Truth amid the fear, uncertainties, and challenges of the present moment? Using these and other queries to examine myself helps me embrace the current moment with humility and gratitude while also allowing me to see possibility for transformation as I encounter my daily responsibilities.
Like everything in life, this self-examination does not take place in a vacuum, but rather in the context of a dynamic community. One of the lessons I have gained by being in community has been the imperative of trust, especially in those moments when I am faced with hardship. It is so easy to abandon trust when confronted with fear or lack of control over situations that require our energy and attention. It can be very challenging to respond with hope to unfolding reality, especially when there are so many loud noises of injustice and violence, accompanied by great losses. Amid the grief and challenge, let us create space for re-building our trust in community and thereby grounding in the collective the faithfulness that we strive for individually. This can happen by holding one another in prayer, by reaching out to others, by having moments or times for contemplation or retreat in our daily rhythms, by having compassion and justice live in our words and actions. This way of nurturing faithfulness brings us into partnership with Spirit in tending the seed of love in the world, which endures beyond all hardship. I invite you to join me in this sacred effort!
The Executive Director on Omicron and Pendle Hill’s COVID Protocols
December 6, 2021
Dear Pendle Hill Friends,
As this winter holiday season unfolds, we at Pendle Hill greet the season with anticipation, both joyful – as we look forward to celebrations and our first in-person education programs since the pandemic – and worrisome, as we begin to learn more about the most recent Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.
As many of you know, Pendle Hill was able to welcome sojourners and group rentals back to our serene campus in June of 2021 thanks to the hard work of staff developing many new protocols and practices to safely serve guests. We also took this step amidst increasing vaccination rates and a decrease in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. In September we implemented the requirement that every guest at Pendle Hill provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or proof of negative results from a PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival on campus. (See our announcement of this policy and the FAQ for details on how we ask visitors to abide by this policy.)
With the rise of new developments in our national and international fight against COVID-19, like boosters and their approval for all vaccinated people in the U.S. as well as the Omicron variant, questions have arisen among our guests and prospective guests: are Pendle Hill’s COVID-prevention measures still rightly-ordered? I believe they are, but even more, I believe in Pendle Hill’s ability to be agile in assessing the situation and developing new measures as needed.
At this time, Pendle Hill does not require booster shots; however, I strongly encourage everyone who is eligible to take this step to further protect themselves and their communities! I and others at Pendle Hill are monitoring information about boosters and their impact on the pandemic closely to inform any changes in policy or protocol that may be needed. Similarly, we are carefully tracking information about the Omicron variant of COVID-19. We are prepared to follow the guidance of our regional and national health bodies regarding Omicron and to proactively respond to this threat quickly with a variety of measures, should we feel led to do so. For now, we are confident in our many procedures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on the Pendle Hill campus while providing a safe and rejuvenating setting for many groups and individuals.
I remain grateful to the many F/friends who contribute to the Pendle Hill community, whether it be through thoughts and prayers, participating in our programs and other offerings, or donating to support our fiscal wellbeing. It is through these community efforts that I and the staff of Pendle Hill are able to hold the complexities of this pandemic with the care that we do, and I am most grateful!
On Practicing Gratitude
November 22, 2021
A few weeks ago, I asked a group of Friends to ponder the question: How do I/we practice gratitude? The sharing that followed was very rich and provocative as we explored gratitude beyond its common conceptual framework, considering its multiple implications.
In today’s world, we easily get trapped in habitual rhythms that prevent us from embracing practices that support us in being more present to ourselves and to one another. Gratitude is one of those practices that is easily forgotten or adopted as a mere formalism. Living gratitude as a practice is one of those simple steps that contribute to our wellbeing, helping us to find meaning as we walk our life journey. The daily task of naming or recognizing three reasons for which to be grateful brings awareness of goodness and beauty. At the same time, this simple exercise can reveal other situations that are in need of loving care. This intersectional experience of thankfulness amid beauty and the need-for-transformation is what I call a liminal dance potential: a special moment in which we can start embracing the paradoxes in our lives with a sense of humility, curiosity, wonder, and intention.
Stay with me on this. Let us visualize practicing gratitude as a well-crafted testimony of our intentions and aspirations. This is something that can have a strong impact on our individual selves as well as in our society. On a personal level, for example, when we are grateful for the gifts that others have given or shared with us, we create space for better relationships based on mutual support and care. This is also an opportunity for confronting our limitations and for setting the stage for change.
At the societal level, when we practice gratitude, we acknowledge not only the common good within our actions but also the many barriers to realizing a just and loving society. Let me be practical. We cannot be truly grateful for the many contributions made by the immigrant community if we ignore the discrimination and injustices that this community faces.
In both scenarios, personal and communal, gratitude must move us to examine, celebrate, and transform ourselves. I invite you to connect with the inward force that sustains us and to manifest it outwardly by practicing gratitude. This is a courageous act in which we challenge ourselves to creatively explore our life experiences in the company of others.
With heartfelt appreciation,
The Road from I to WE
October 28, 2021
On the road from I to WE
a quiet breeze of revelation touches my face
bringing colors of hope
joy, and wonders.
A small stone in my shoe
blockades the beauty of justice,
makes me lose the flavors of love,
and I stumble in the dance of transformation.
But the quiet breeze is here
and I lift my head and find you,
I seek in my heart and encounter me,
I open my arms and welcome us with full acceptance.
In the quiet breeze
a sweet silence emerges
disrupting our crowded and noisy life.
Now, we hear the voice of the ocean
we feel the forest’s song
and we dance the symphony of creation
in sustaining company with birds and flowers
in the creative work of berries and bees.
On the multiple ways of the road from I to WE,
my entire self goes back to the ground
in joyful celebration
as in a well performed brisé
trusting the wisdom of the movement and the journey.
An Important Update from the Executive Director
September 14, 2021
Dear Pendle Hill Friends,
As those of you who have been in community with Pendle Hill recently know, in mid-June we took the joyful and careful step of re-opening our campus to welcome small groups and sojourners for the first time in over a year! We were grateful to be able to offer services to guests once again, due to the decrease in COVID-19 cases, the increase in vaccination rates, and our internal capacity to safely serve our guests. It also would not have been possible without deeply considered safety protocols and practices developed by our staff over many months to assist in creating a safe and welcoming campus.
As the Delta variant of COVID-19 surges across the nation, Pendle Hill needs to continue honing our protocols and practices in collaboration with our Friends and the many organizations that visit our campus for renewal, learning, and community. As Executive Director, I have also been holding this need in my daily listening for Spirit in meeting for worship. I feel deeply the importance of keeping Pendle Hill a place where everyone is welcome, and where every person can feel safe, nurtured, and supported.
Towards this end, starting September 24th, every guest at Pendle Hill will be required to provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or proof of negative results from a PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival on campus. To learn more about how we are accepting proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test result and what exactly we mean by each of these, please see our FAQ.
This policy may be a welcome development for some and raise questions and concerns for others. One might ask, how is it welcoming to add an additional requirement in order for guests to be able to come to campus? We approach this safety measure as an act of love which enables us to continue welcoming all for Spirit-led learning, retreat, and community. This policy prioritizes those who are most vulnerable at this moment in our society’s COVID-19 pandemic experience, especially those who cannot receive the vaccine. We seek to provide an environment in which individuals know clearly that everyone with whom they come into contact on campus is either fully vaccinated or did not have COVID (according to the best testing available) when arriving on campus. We feel that it is the responsibility of those with choices and privilege to undertake these inconveniences to protect the lives of those who are disadvantaged elsewhere, and at Pendle Hill we are proud to do so.
Our hope is that this decision contributes to a safe and healthy environment within and beyond our Quaker study, retreat, and conference center, and that you join us in this effort.
In gratitude and Friendship,
Practicing Essential Care
August 26, 2021
During the past months, I have been reflecting about how to offer an ecological vision of Pendle Hill as we prepare to welcome a new residential student program. Of course, this reflection must consider the reality of COVID-19 and its variants, especially regarding how we provide a safe and welcoming environment for our community and guests. Undergirding these considerations and preparations is a practice that I am calling “essential care.”
What is essential care? It is not just the act of giving attention, but of embracing care as a way of being in the world. This relational practice of essential care allows us to touch everything we are and can be. Exercising essential care brings us to wholeness as we develop awareness about ourselves, others, the Earth, and our social systems; we become able to open ourselves to the necessary transformation that care requires from an ethical, spiritual, and ecological framework.
At Pendle Hill, we are doing our collective best to practice essential care in every aspect of our personal and institutional life. As a Quaker institution, we serve our sojourners and groups with simplicity and a strong sense of connection and mutual care. In many ways, this is a concrete step toward re-creating community in a loving way.
I invite you to experience the impact of essential care at Pendle Hill by visiting our campus or participating in one of our many online programs. I am delighted by all that our staff have accomplished to be prepared to welcome you and that we have done this from a place of love. Our preparations include many safety protocols to support visitors’ wellness as they undergo their personal journeys on the Pendle Hill campus.
We are ready to welcome you, and grateful to have you as a member of our holy experiment, practicing essential care with one another.
In God’s Time
July 29, 2021
Last week, I found myself in front of Wesley Wofford’s 9-foot Harriet Tubman “Journey to Freedom” sculpture, currently on display in the Harriet Tubman Museum of Cape May, New Jersey. A mix of emotions arose as I took in the piece: a strong sense of longing, sorrow, humor, as well as an aspiration reminiscent of the feeling that comes when I listen to William Grant Still’s symphony #1 “Afro-American.” In the midst of these emotions, I found myself contemplating the Beloved Community that we strive to create at Pendle Hill in the context of Tubman’s affirmation that “God’s time is always near.”
Pendle Hill has a long-held commitment to creating space for nonviolence, contemplation, justice, and experiential learning as practical components of our daily rhythm toward transforming lives and bringing about the Beloved Community.
Over the past eighteen months, we have worked to creatively and justly address the many challenges presented to us by COVID while continuing our long-held offerings, like diverse learning opportunities and our (now hybrid) daily worship. As we continue responding to our institutional call to radical hospitality amid our society’s polarization and social disruption, we often encounter moments of tension, created by the complex interplay of the personal, communal, institutional, and societal. How can we act, in these layered moments, to best bring about the Beloved Community? Often, it is by sinking into God’s time that we may access the companionship, patience, determination, trust, and support necessary to act with the full welcome to which we aspire.
At Pendle Hill, we are additionally blessed by having friends like you as companions in these efforts in your own lives. Let us continue in this work independently and in support of one another as we face our many transitions. Change is possible. We must persist in the radically faithful act of trusting, loving, and repeatedly re-creating our aspirations for the Beloved Community. Let us, together, as clay workers steer the potter’s wheel, strive to make possible a new society that bends toward justice and peace in the great arc of God’s time.
Let us dream, pray, and act together as we recognize that God’s time is already within us.
June 24, 2021
among losses and sickness
as the sun sets on our existence.
with the conviction and resiliency that emanates from love
foot by foot
faith and hugs
peace by justice.
in expectancy and action
Dancing as breathing
fully invested in the music
weaving our present
to the Eternal presence.
Touching the Wound
May 26, 2021
Am I aware of the wounds in my life? How am I embracing healing for both my personal and societal wounds? How do I welcome the Spirit in seeking and healing my wounds?
Both personal and societal wounds are very common in our life journeys, and they impact our experience of being in the world in multiple and diverse ways. The manner in which we relate to one another, how we create community, and the way we take care of ourselves – these are just a few areas that can tell us about our personal wounds and how we deal with them. In the societal arena, wounds are often reflected by how we create or fail to create space for inclusion and welcoming in our societies, how we address our long history of injustices, and how we create or fail to create a sustainable, healthy, and peaceful world.
Of course, each wound in our lives can be transformed into a learning experience. It is not that we must be wounded in order to learn, but rather that there is space for meaningful and loving transformation despite the ugliness, sadness, and pain associated with the stories that our wounds represent. I think, for example, that the painful wound of violence and the many consequences that it creates across generations can and must be healed by a prophetic commitment to peace. I firmly believe that we can learn from and transform the many wounds associated with racism, discrimination, economic inequalities and inequities as well as from the deep wounds of hate based on religious beliefs. All these wounds can be healed if we seriously commit ourselves to do the grounded healing work it requires.
The healing of a wound always requires touching it. By touching I mean having a conscious encounter with the wound while doing as much as possible to provide the care it demands. This is a practice well known among many spiritual traditions, in which the process for self and communal transformation begins by connecting with – touching – the experiences that prevent us from having a meaningful, loving, and generous life.
There is no doubt that our current times are thirsty for this type of healing touch. All of us can contribute greatly to the necessary task of personal and societal healing. We must do this in ways that value mutual support and accompaniment while recognizing the beauty within our diversity. At Pendle Hill, we create space for this type of accompanied transformative experience that contributes to personal and communal healing as we imagine and work toward a just and peaceful world. I know that we are not alone in this journey, and I hope that you, my Friend, continue accompanying us as we open ourselves to divine guidance and search for healing with love and creativity.
The Pendle Hill Way
“God of all humanity,
in times of violence
we see how inhuman we can be.”1
Pádraig Ó Tuama
March 29, 2021
I have been reflecting about the impact of structural violence in our world. This reflection has not been a mere intellectual process but rather a deep spiritual practice in which I have examined the ways I embrace non-violence. It has not been an easy task, especially when considering some hard facts from present days. For instance, three facts that I have brought into my prayer recently include:
- Gun violence in Philadelphia has increased 40% over the past year;
- The start of the pandemic has seen an increase in violence against people of Asian descent and Asian Americans;
- Half of Yemen’s population is on the brink of famine.
It is important that my spiritual practice is in tune with what is going on within me, around me, and in the world. This is how I walk the spiritual path of personal and social transformation. In that process, non-violence is a critical step for inner and outer renewal. To paraphrase Friend Bayard Rustin, violence not only affects our physical integrity, but it ruins our moral and social integrity, and our ability to practice justice and peace.
At Pendle Hill, we strive to create peace with justice in the world by transforming lives. This vision guides our educational programs, our hospitality, and our communal experience. This vision is deeply rooted and nurtured by our Quaker faith. And, as we encounter the many challenges of violence in our lives, this vision calls us to remain faithful and to resist by practicing non-violence. We live this commitment as we seek divine guidance in our personal prayer and gathered worship, and as we support each other in our experiential learning. This process of inner exploration and mutual accompaniment is, in simple terms, what I identify as the Pendle Hill way. A path where we can be and become prophetic witness to the truth of non-violence.
We must exercise non-violence as a practice within the small and big actions of everyday. It is not just a requirement for peace but a path to justice and transformation, and a journey in which we can celebrate the beauty of life as we re-create and recover our humanity.
1 Poem “A prayer in time of violence” (extract). Pádraig Ó Tuama (2017): Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community (Canterbury Press: London, UK).
On Listening to the Genuine
February 25, 2021
A few weeks ago, I was conversing with a friend about the need for learning and practicing how to listen in our society. Listening not as a mechanical process but as a practice of opening, both to self and others. But, how to exercise listening when we are constantly perceiving, portraying, or defining ourselves as very distant from each other? How to start listening when we do not necessarily know how to be attentive to the most intimate “voice” within us? How to act with integrity when we are missing the opportunity to pause, to open our hearts, and to embrace the truth in our life, in the lives of others, and within our living and shared history?
As I wrestle with these questions, I think about how we at Pendle Hill are creating space for mutual accompaniment as we support people in their own renewal, healing, and discerning process. We know that this process requires being willing to welcome silence, difficult conversations, uncertainties, and exploring with love the many paradoxes we encounter in life.
Today, there are many distractions that prevent us from doing this essential exploration. We are so immersed in our own “devices,” ideas, and routines that we end up not noticing or accepting the challenges and beauty of co-creating a better life. It is as if by our lack of attention, we blind ourselves to what Howard Thurman described as “the sound of the genuine.” A soft but firm sound that calls for the best of us, giving us purpose, guiding and sustaining us in recognizing the dignity, goodness, and humanity in ourselves and others. It is a still voice that is present in life as it is life in itself – a small and constant voice that call us to be whole and which supports us in overcoming the many barriers that divide us. As Thurman says:
“If I hear the sound of the genuine in me, and if you hear the sound of the genuine in you, it is possible for me to go down in me and come up in you. So that when I look at myself through your eyes having made that pilgrimage, I see in me what you see in me and the wall that separates and divides will disappear, and we will become one because the sound of the genuine makes the same music.”1
As we enter into the Spring season, I invite you to keep walking this journey with us. Let’s support one another in listening to the sound of the genuine with the hope that together we envision, work, and create the symphony of life with its beauty and solidarity.
1 From Howard Thurman’s 1980 commencement address at Spelman College. Available at https://www.uindy.edu/eip/files/reflection4.pdf.
The Epiphany of Everyday
January 28, 2021
Our life journey is full of discoveries and realizations that provide us with a deep meaning and better understanding of the complexity of reality. A reality that is articulated and nurtured by our actions, words, and intentions, no matter how big and small, or how active and passive they are. This is how we participate in creating history. We are not, under any circumstances, out of history. Our engagement or lack of involvement with our personal spiritual development or with movements for social transformation are just different ways of defining how we approach our life within history.
We may think that the recent events affecting our social and political web may not be related to our personal path. We may argue that we are not directly involved in the perpetuation of institutional racism, structural violence, inequality and injustice, but the truth is that all these “social sins” permeate our daily culture. They are promoted either by our action or lack of action. This is when we need to pause and open ourselves to the epiphany of everyday, which require of us a more intentional engagement with self, others, and the Spirit.
Since I was appointed to serve as Executive Director, I have been holding in my heart the simple question of what may be my contribution to this organization. Specially, considering the critical moment we are facing and the future to be. A particular element I want to offer as a personal revelation is the need to deep listening. I have the conviction that we won’t be able to seriously address our institutional situation or our social maladies without holding space and listening. After all, this is a simple step within a healing process as well as it is a strong spiritual practice for the ones that seek to encounter reality from the most essential REALITY within us.
For 90 years, Pendle Hill has supported many Friends and seekers in their personal and collective journey. We want to continue being of support and we want to keep welcoming all for Spirit-led learning opportunities as we practice radical hospitality and create community. We don’t want to lose sight of our historical moment and its implications. It is within this chapter in history that we want to continue responding to the essential REALITY as we practice and create space for peace, justice, love, and transformation.
Let us welcome our everyday epiphanies and embrace them with gratitude, curiosity, and with the intention of doing the necessary work that they demand from us.
A Call for a New Normalcy
December 30, 2020
“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” —St. Francis of Assisi
A new year is in front of us. Let us take this as a new opportunity for re-imagining the world. Let us envision and work toward a healthier environment, a more inclusive and welcoming society where justice and peace, dignity and solidarity, are the essential values and praxis of everyday. Let us create a new normalcy full of care, meaning, and love.
I know that this may sound utopian, but I have the conviction that re-imagination can be a powerful tool for personal and social transformation. We can dream together, and we can explore in community the paths to a better world. Let’s start by examining our personal life, our relationships, our work. Let’s take a look at the small steps that we can take in our daily life toward nourishing the living dynamics behind our faith and values. Let’s ask ourselves: what new learnings are we willing to experiment with as we open our hearts to “see what love can do” (W. Penn).
Friends, this is an invitation to pause, contemplate, and act. We at Pendle Hill look forward to continuing walking with you as we embark on this journey. Let us be open and courageous not necessarily to return to the old normal routine but to create space for a new normalcy that is more in tune with “the Spirit that searches all things” (1 Cor 2:10). Let us continue living in communion as we re-imagine the world together.
Pendle Hill, A Place for Transformation
October 29, 2020
For the past 90 years, Pendle Hill has been a place where many Friends and seekers have experienced a deep life transformation. This is true for many friends, those that came for a sabbatical, participated in our educational programs, sojourned with us, or participated in other programs on our campus. We have become a special place where many have found renewal, connection, deep listening, and exploration.
Now, as we enter a new chapter in our history, I would like to share my dream for Pendle Hill. A dream that, while rooted in our best tradition of experiential learning, creates and welcomes new insights to address our current moment in history with a deep sense of hope, community, and service. In some ways, more than offering a new narrative for Pendle Hill, this vision represents a reinvigoration of our long institutional commitment to plant, nurture, and share the seeds of transformation for our world.
My vision of Pendle Hill is a mosaic composed of three essential and practical ideas:
For many years, we have been an organization that could easily be described as a progressive institution. I believe that we have served this role well as we facilitated and supported many processes and activities aimed to promote and sustain justice, equality, and diversity not only for guests, but for our staff and organizational community. It is time for us to renew and expand our commitment to those values as we open ourselves to the Spirit and as we create space to be a prophetic witness organization within our society. I believe that we, a small Quaker retreat, study, and conference center, can be a place where hope and solidarity permeate all aspect of our institution. A place where hope is experienced as an essential ingredient in our many offerings, and where solidarity is articulated as a dynamic force within our decisions and actions.
The second essential thought in my vision has to do with making Pendle Hill a place that incarnates the Beloved Community. This is an invitation to create community as we practice the radical hospitality of welcoming people and providing them with a friendly support for inner and outer transformation. I see Pendle Hill as a place where acceptance is common practice, where diversity is celebrated as we honor the dignity of everyone, and where reconnecting with nature is fostered by our organizational practice; a place where Friends and sojourners find their own path with and within the dynamic companionship of others.
As I dream about this Beloved Community, I expand that vision to the process of how we create a staff community where employees are perceived as collaborators and are encouraged and supported in their personal and professional growth. As a Friends organization, Pendle Hill will continue fostering staff participation inspired in Quaker faith and practice. I am committed to a vision of Pendle Hill that continues welcoming diversity and inclusion among its workforce; a staff community where racial, cultural, religious, and sexual diversity is part of our organizational fabric.
I believe this vision is a practical step to continue walking our historical path as a Quaker organization that was created as a sacrament of hope, unity, fellowship, and discovery. I see this as an opportunity to open ourselves both as individuals and as an institution, and to plant within us a seed of love, communion, justice, and dignity. I invite you to be part of this journey. I guarantee you that many ways will open as we enter into this new chapter of our shared history.
Celebrating Pendle Hill
September 24, 2020
On September 24, 1930 a new organization was born. An organization conceived as a holy experiment where ideas can be tested as we create fellowship and answer the inner call to prophetic action in daily life. Over the past 90 years, Pendle Hill constituted a testimony of unity and service to the Religious Society of Friends, and it has become a unique “meeting place” for many others as we commonly search and work toward building a better world.
The sense of unity and hope cultivated by the group of Friends that founded Pendle Hill still resonates with us today as we are attentive to the Light. During the past 90 years, we have lived many moments in which, as a Quaker institution, we needed to pause and create space for deep listening. There have been moments when key decisions needed to be made and implemented as acts of faithfulness. Moments when we needed to be very intentional about opening ourselves to the small voice that guides us, for us to continue fulfilling our mission. Our current chapter in history is not different as we are presented with many personal, institutional, and social challenges; and yet, it is within those challenges that Pendle Hill, a small Quaker retreat center, is called to remain as a testimony of what is possible when we welcome and embrace unity, hope, and love.
We celebrate the first 90 years of this holy experiment with deep gratitude. Gratitude and recognition to the many people that have stewarded the land where we are settled, from the Lenape people to the staff and volunteers that keep caring for our campus and its ecosystem. Gratitude to those who have come here as “students” in search of personal and communal transformation, and to the many “faculty” members that have shared their talents and gifts. We are thankful to the people that have served on the Board, and to the many Friends that gently invited us to be open to new ways. We express gratitude to our staff for their enthusiasm in accompanying us in this journey. We are grateful for our supporters, from the past to the present – for you have sustained us especially during difficult times. Thank you to all of you! You are part of the colorful quilt that we represent.
Today, we celebrate our 90th birthday. This has been a long path traveled in the company of many Friends, groups, and organizations. It is with this shared journey in mind that we invite you to celebrate with us as we continue creating Spirit-led learning opportunities, in which peace, justice, love, and community are experienced and envisioned with authenticity.
Acknowledging and Addressing Systemic Racism
June 12, 2020
We mourn the violent and unwarranted deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other African Americans whose deaths continue the stream of violence directed against African Americans in this country for over four hundred years. Blacks and other people of color continue to suffer from structural racism and oppression. We acknowledge the many burdens of racism on African Americans and other people of color, including: immense inequities in health care, mass incarceration, police violence and shooting, everyday insults small and large, implicit and explicit bias, being unheard or not believed, inferior schools and education experiences… the list goes on and on.
Pendle Hill’s vision is to create peace with justice in the world by transforming lives. We are a Quaker institution. We understand that since the early days of the religion, Quaker leaders and institutions have been embedded in a prevailing culture of white supremacy. While we are proud of the many Quakers who stood up for justice and freedom over the centuries, abolitionists often did not view African Americans as equals, Quaker schools were slow to desegregate, and today Blacks and other people of color often feel unwelcome in our faith communities. We seek to reveal and eradicate the elements of white supremacy that are woven into the Quaker tradition.
We all must be vocal about ending oppression in this country. Black lives matter! We want to be an active part of building a nation in which this statement does not need to be said on a daily basis.
From our position as a conference center and educational institution, Pendle Hill strives to support agents of change. We seek to find ways we can strengthen our educational offerings related to overcoming racism by providing opportunities for people of all races to strengthen their determination for change, expand their skills, and heal from the trauma of oppression. We will also continue to provide programming exclusively for and led by people of color.
Now is not the moment for despair or paralysis. Now is the time for change and action. Now, and next week, and next month, and next year, and… Let us become the ancestors deserving of our great-great-grandchildren’s pride.
If you’d like to learn more about relevant programs, please click here.
To see suggested readings for understanding and addressing racism and white supremacy, click here.
Click here for some ideas about how you might take action.
Traci Hjelt Sullivan
Interim Executive Director
April 30, 2020
Dear Friends of Pendle Hill,
It’s a sad week at Pendle Hill. If you read my April 22 letter, you’ll know that Pendle Hill recently accepted that we cannot re-open campus to paying guests until the coronavirus is contained, and certainly no earlier than October 1, 2020. This means we’ve had to let go of half our staff.
If you’ve been to Pendle Hill in the last few years, you know our amazing staff. They make your bed before you arrive, they cook tasty and healthy food, they manage your reservations, and they come in the middle of the night when you accidentally lock yourself out of your room. The Pendle Hill campus experience has benefitted from the care each one of them has taken to provide warm hospitality to each guest that arrived.
The staff who remain are adjusting to a different rhythm of the week and changed responsibilities. Lloyd Guindon has agreed to manage our Buildings and Grounds team, which now includes Jamaal Williams. Eric Evans brings his institutional knowledge and great customer service skills to the registration office which is now our administrative hub. The Education team has developed new online programs that can accommodate more people at a very affordable price – and they are working on more.
And our Advancement team is grateful for every single gift Pendle Hill receives. Even with large cuts in payroll, COVID-19 remains financially worrisome for Pendle Hill. If you haven’t made a gift recently, please consider making a contribution today.
The biggest adjustment for those of us who remain is the absence of our friends and colleagues.
We miss you, too! It is spring, and the campus is no less beautiful because there are only a handful of people to appreciate it. Thanks to our hardworking Buildings and Grounds crew, it will be beautiful when you return. Meanwhile, we are pleased to continue to serve you with online programs, Pendle Hill pamphlets, and daily morning worship (open to all via Zoom).
Bless you and stay safe,
Traci Hjelt Sullivan
Interim Executive Director
Dear Friends of Pendle Hill,
Like many other Quaker organizations, Pendle Hill has been discerning how to stay faithful to its mission in the midst of the pandemic. I am writing to tell you about some of our decisions. We continue to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our staff and potential visitors. We are focused, too, on taking steps now to assure that Pendle Hill can continue serving as a source of spiritual vitality and education long into the future.
We closed the campus to visitors on March 15. We are now announcing that while Pendle Hill ministries continue, the Pendle Hill campus will remain closed to guests until the COVID-19 coronavirus is contained, and at least until October 1, 2020.
This is an important public health decision. We want to be sure that we can provide a safe environment before reopening. Because our guests come from a variety of locations to connect with each other, we believe this to be the most responsible decision to ensure public health. We recognize this will have difficult implications for Pendle Hill’s finances, and we are saddened that much of the burden of closing will fall on members of Pendle Hill’s dedicated staff.
Learn more about this decision:
Pendle Hill’s Ministry Transcends Closed Campus
Information for Guests with Outstanding Reservations
When Will the Campus Re-Open?
Information for People and Groups Wanting to Make an On-Campus Reservation
We Faithfully Await Your Return
Pendle Hill Needs Your Financial Support and Your Prayers
Pendle Hill’s Ministry Transcends Closed Campus
Even while campus is closed to guests, Pendle Hill’s vital ministry continues. About a month ago, we opened an online portal to daily Worship in the Barn. Now more than 130 people attend most mornings. Friends express gratitude for the experience of community worship and the grounding it provides. We experience Spirit binding us together as we share fear and possibility, anger and joy, grief and gratitude. Worship is providing solace and strength during these difficult times.
The Pendle Hill bookstore continues to be available online. Both new and classic pamphlets minister to Friends around the world.
In the coming two months, Pendle Hill is offering these programs online:
- The Good News and the Re-making of Hope and Love. Studying the Gospels with Liberation Theology methodology;
- Tools for Navigating, Embracing, and Transforming Chaos. A series of brief workshops for seekers and changemakers;
- Continuing Revolution 2020 Online: Transformative Conflict and Justice. Pendle Hill’s annual conference for young adults;
- Arts for Spiritual Discovery. A series of brief workshops using art mediums in your home;
- Poetry Coffeehouse Online. Participants will write and share in response to featured poets.
The spiritual needs in this time are extraordinary. The Pendle Hill staff and Board are united in generating opportunities for you to join with others for mutual exploration and connection to the Guide within.
Information for Guests with Outstanding Reservations
If you have a reservation for a conference rental, personal sojourn, or Pendle Hill program, you will receive an email from one of our staff in the next few weeks. We are cancelling all on-campus reservations through September 30. Many Pendle Hill programs originally scheduled for the spring and summer are being moved to online platforms. If you have an on-campus reservation after September 30, we will inform you no less than two months in advance whether the campus will be open or not. Please hold your questions until you receive an email with more details, relevant to your specific situation – our staff is small and working hard to address immediate needs.
When Will the Campus Re-Open?
The Pendle Hill campus will re-open when we are confident that we can provide a safe environment for our guests and when there is sufficient demand to generate income to provide on-campus services. The decision to re-open will be finalized several months before actually re-opening. It will be announced on our website and via widely distributed emails. Sign up to receive Pendle Hill’s monthly e-newsletter.
Information for People and Groups Wanting to Make an On-Campus Reservation
We will not accept or make new reservations for additional Pendle Hill education programs or personal retreats until we determine our reopening date. For on-campus rentals, we will only accept new reservations for dates after August 31, 2021.
We Faithfully Await Your Return
I am sad when I see empty dormitories, dining rooms, and gathering spaces here on the Pendle Hill campus. And yet, in the absence of humans, the wilder inhabitants of the property are more visible. Almost daily, we hear reports of seeing the shy fox, whom we have named Georgie. Bull frogs at Owen’s garden abound, and squirrels are dashing over the branches of Mama Beach, across the roots of the three Dawn Redwood sisters, and throughout the labyrinth.
We look forward to the time when this beautiful campus once again welcomes human visitors. Until that day arrives, Pendle Hill will provide alternative ways of gathering, learning, and discerning together. Many people are exploring faithfulness in the midst of the pandemic. We pledge to be your partner in that endeavor as we seek Guidance and find meaning.
Pendle Hill Needs Your Financial Support and Your Prayers
In the next few weeks, we will make dramatic reductions in expenses, and will painfully say good-bye to many dedicated colleagues during this time.
Our work continues. With your generous financial support, Pendle Hill can fulfill its commitment to steward the land and continue our 90-year-old legacy of supporting spiritual development and discernment.
We need your engagement, and we need your gifts to keep going through the pandemic. Please consider making a monthly or one-time gift today.
Your prayers are also much appreciated – for Pendle Hill and for the world. Our love goes out to those suffering physically, emotionally, and economically from the pandemic. I know that many staff and Board members share my feelings of shame and rage about the disproportional pain experienced in communities of color and the poor. We pray for those who risk their own health to provide medical and other essential services to their communities.
Thank you for staying connected to Pendle Hill. We can feel your prayers, and we trust that you can feel ours as well.
Light and Love,
Traci Hjelt Sullivan
Interim Executive Director
March 26, 2020
Dear Pendle Hill Friends and Family,
It’s only eight days since I last wrote to you. A lot has happened in eight days, here at Pendle Hill and throughout the world. On campus, the cherry trees are in blossom and the daffodils in full bloom. I am so grateful that spring’s beauty accompanies me through these challenging times
The Pendle Hill Board is deeply engaged in discerning an institutional response to the sudden drop in income caused by COVID-19 cancellations – and to the new opportunities for ministry. I am buoyed by the Friends who join us on Zoom for worship each morning at 8:30 am Eastern. Each morning, our attendance increases – we now number more than 100! About six of us are physically in the Barn; nonetheless the room fills with the spiritual energy of Friends from across the continent, sprinkled with others from Australia, Great Britain, and Germany. Worship is filled with deep silence, and messages about fear, compassion, and connection that transcends touch. Please join us! Keep an eye on the Pendle Hill website – we may be adding other worship or worship-sharing opportunities soon.
Workshop leaders and our Education staff quickly adapted two Pendle Hill programs so that they could continue as online experiences in spiritual deepening and community building. Our Education staff are discerning which other spring programs might be modified for online engagement.
We continue to recommend to you the Pendle Hill Pamphlet #447 “Living in Dark Times” by Rex Ambler. If you don’t have it on your bookshelf, you can read it online until March 31 at no charge.
Earlier this week, my husband’s favorite uncle died of COVID-19 in Vermont. He was 72. Please stay safe, Friends, and help keep others safe.
Love and Light,
Traci Hjelt Sullivan
Interim Executive Director
March 18, 2020
Dear Pendle Hill Friends and Family,
How are you, dear friends? How fares truth and love with you during these challenging times?
We are thinking of you as you care for your own health and the health of others. We join you in a concern about job loss, food security, and lack of health care by many across the country. We too are praying for friends and family who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are awaiting diagnosis. We are holding you in our heart as all of us learn how to continue building the Beloved Community in this critical moment.
At Pendle Hill, we are adapting to the quickly changing circumstances while striving to let Love be our guide. We have been implementing extra measures to maintain a healthy and welcoming environment in our campus, and last weekend we closed to visitors for at least two weeks following the governor of Pennsylvania’s request for all non-essential businesses to close. (Many groups and workshops had already cancelled.) On one hand, we are deeply concerned about the sudden loss of earned revenue which is essential to our annual budget; on the other hand, staff are stepping up to think of creative responses. Faced with the need for payroll cuts, staff united in the need for a “Voluntary Pay Reduction” survey so that senior management could understand the various degrees of financial need, responsibilities, and flexibility within the staff.
We feel connected to you, and we appreciate your support whether via prayer, donation, or joining us in worship.
In the middle of all of this, we are sitting with the question, “What is Pendle Hill’s ministry in this time of uncertainty and social distancing?” The answer is still unfolding, but today, we would like to share two opportunities with you.
Please join us for worship, 8:30am-9:10am any morning. A handful of Pendle Hill residents gather each day in the Barn, continuing the 90-year-long tradition of daily worship. This week, we start an experiment of opening the circle of worship to YOU in your home. You can join us via Zoom by clicking here.
For me, my spiritual discipline this week is joy. This is an eternal joy that walks hand-in-hand with worry and compassion. The daffodils are still beautiful. Music is still inspiring. And in the stillness, I can still connect with my Guide, if only to sit together in the silence.
Bless us all,
Traci Hjelt Sullivan
Interim Executive Director
Join Worship Online or By Phone
Please join us in worship by Zoom, 8:30am – 9:10am Eastern Time, any morning.
Return here later today for tips for first-time Zoom users.
If you join by phone, please mute your phone unless you have ministry
To join only via phone (without video):
+1 312 626 6799
Meeting ID: 432 071 090
One tap mobile
+13126266799,,432071090# US (Chicago)
+16465588656,,432071090# US (New York)
International access, find your local number: https://pendlehill.zoom.us/u/ackPzoqYUZ