Many happy returns of the season, and good tidings of great joy, to
those who need them most.
As a Christian, I am always happy when anyone with whom I have felt
uncomfortable about differences, such as, in this instance, William
Martin, offers a gesture of reconciliation. So it was with great joy, and in
the spirit of the season, that I talked with him on the phone for quite
awhile the other day.
To Friend William, I referred to his dedication to naturism ('nudism')
as a form of Friends ministry, and I believe it is. I support the
freedom to go without clothes in the 'everyday' kind of situations that he
describes. I would also like to note that historically, and in
obedience to spiritual leadings, Friends and others have sometimes taken
recourse in nudity as a form of consciousness-raising or faith-based
activism. The extraordinary may not justify the everyday, nor vice versa, but
in general, Friends have come to unity on a testimony for plainness ...
and what could be more plain and unassuming than our bodies themselves?
I believe that Friends must do extraordinary things in times like
these, when our governments have gotten out of hand, when they no longer
take the best interests of our people, or of any people save the very
rich, into account. A recent editorial in our local -- corporate-owned --
newspaper raises the possibility of George Walker Bush's prosecution.
These are signs of the times in which we live. It is an exciting time
to be alive, and one which may try us in many ways. Look to your
spirituality for the inner resources that will carry you through.
William and I have, over time, discussed the fact that Friends may,
under certain circumstances, decide, in a true state of clearness, to
proceed with a ministry that does not have the official imprimatur of
Quaker meeting-supported clearness processes. I think that both he and I
have had experiences like this. Still, the system does exist, and I do
endorse it, for it is our time-tried system or organizational governance
and discipline. Any Friend who thus proceeds to carry forward ministry
must be very, very sure that it is Spirit-led. Our Society, and
society in general, have very little patience for anyone carrying forward
false witness, or mounting self-interested endeavors under the guise of
So while I might be embarrassed to go 'bare-assed' in certain
instances, particularly in Vermont winters -- even our summers can be pretty
cool at times -- I am not reticent to 'let it all hang out' in other ways.
Sometimes we must do this. Each and every one of us has had
extraordinary experiences, and can bring testimonies to one another -- each of us
individually -- that no one else can. Friends' tolerance and
understanding of our differences is part of what makes us successful as the
Religious Society of Friends. This has been a frequent theme of witness
recently in our Quaker Meeting at Putney (VT), and was also something
that Friend William and I agreed upon -- resoundingly -- in our
In the spirit of reconciliation, I would also like to offer apologies
publicly to anyone -- William or anyone else -- that might ever have
felt offended by the brusqueness or seeming insensitivity of my witness in
these 'e-circles'. As He pointed out so well, the written word,
without even the benefit of seeing one's handwriting, much less faces, voice
tone, mannerisms, and body language, utterly fails in many instances to
accomplish what is necessary for us to feel true community among one
another. I pray that my intentions are always pure, and that I am able
to bring them across to you in this medium.
I wish for my life to accomplish great things, but only in the name of
peace, justice, and integrity. Lord G-d in heaven, and in you my
F(f)riends, I seek thy blessing in this and in all things, that I may be
worthy of the joy I feel this season, and that I may help bring comfort
and joy to others everywhere.
-- John Wilmerding