Saturday, March 11, 2006

loss and light

I came home today to the report via Quaker Blogwatch of Tom Fox's death in Iraq.

I never met Tom, nor had I heard of him until his capture but since then I have read several moving and heartfelt accounts of his work with young Quakers in the States and the enormous impact he has had on the lives of those who I hold dear to me.

It is they my heart goes out to - those whose lives he touched, who he inspired - of which I am sure there were many in Iraq as well as the States. Maybe people he couldn't himself recall individually and who he probably wouldn't even realise what a difference he has made to their lives. It is their grief I feel for most as it is the unacknowledged grief. How do you explain to those around you who haven't met someone who has influenced their lives in such a way why it hurts so much, why the tears are flowing? They won't get a day or more off work or college, they will be expected to carry on is if nothing had happened and function as normal. After all, it's only something in the news isn't it?

The world family of Friends is well called that. Many who discover Quakers talk about feeling as though they have 'come home'. Many know what it is to have surrogate 'family' members within their Meetings. Ffriends of mine when complimented on their kids always say that their Ffriends brought them up that way as much as, if not more than, them.

On top of that sense of family is the fact that we are a relatively small community with some amazing inspirational and sometimes well known people amongst us. We get to know them - these people who appear on the news and whatnot - and love them. They don't hold themselves apart but muck in, they are one of us. Sometimes we don't even find out what they've done that's 'famous' - we remember them for their smile, their ministry, grace, kind words and laughter... so whilst the obituries may talk of their work lives for many of us the loss is of a person not a catalogue of achievements, campaigns or a figurehead.

Earlier in the week I received the words to the songs we had sung at WGYF which included 'Live up to the Light that thou hast'. Being a Quaker has brought me into contact with many who do 'live up to the light', who inspire me. Some I know and love well, others I have met long ago but still vividly remember how brightly they shone. Some I have already mourned the loss of and can only hope that somehow their light can continue to shine through their influence on me and others - chances are it won't be as bright or even shining in the same direction but who knows whose path it may brighten and what they in turn may achieve.

(20.15) In its history the Society of Friends has produced many people whose lives of conspicuous service have profoundly influenced their times. John Woolman, Elizabeth Fry, Joseph Sturge and many others would have made for themselves no claim to a special dedication to service, but they were none the less able, out of the depth of their love for their fellows, to take great opportunities that came to them. Their service sprang directly out of their religious faith, but this faith was itself stimulated and fostered by the religious atmosphere in which they lived. To this atmosphere the lives of many Friends, now nameless and unknown, contributed by their faithfulness in inconspicuous service, and so made it possible for the greater spirits to grow to their full stature.
Gerald Littleboy, 1945
(from Quaker Faith & Practice, Britain Yearly Meeting)

1 comment:

Lovin' Life Liz said...

Thanks for putting much better words to the situation than I could...and thanks for your kind email as well!

All we can do now is pray for his family and for the other hostages.