Many readers of this blog are probably familiar with the Quaker practice of contemplating answers to a set of written questions that we refer to as queries. While individuals can of course consider their answers to the queries, the usual practice is for the meeting as a whole to discuss the queries, and a group response is written.
The following explanation of the queries comes from the Faith and Practice of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
“Friends have assessed the state of this religious society through the use of queries since the time of George Fox. Rooted in the history of Friends, the queries reflect the Quaker way of life, reminding Friends of the ideals we seek to attain. From the Christian tradition, Friends have taken as a standard the life and teaching of Jesus, not only as recorded in the New Testament, but even more importantly as revealed inwardly, as we seek God’s truth and its expression through our lives today. Friends approach queries as a guide to self-examination, using them not as an outward set of rules, but as a framework within which we assess our convictions and examine, clarify, and consider prayerfully the direction of our lives and the life of the community.”
Further discussion about queries can be found here: https://jeffkisling.com/2017/11/02/advices-and-queries/
I have followed the blog posts of Mark Morey since the beginning of the Standing Rock/Dakota Access pipeline story, and have appreciated his thoughtful writing. Lately he has been on a journey to Ireland. In his recent article, titled “Sacred Questions and Helpers on the Journey” he poses the following questions that I find relate to similar questions I’ve been asking myself. I have recently moved to a new stage in life, since I retired last year.
I’ve been thinking about my ancestors, and how they lived with an ecological balance that has been radically disrupted over the past generation. I’ve been thinking of the strong stance they took against war, when a number of Quaker men were imprisoned for refusing to cooperate with the military, and what I can do in today’s environment of constant and pervasive war.
I find the last question about learning from native peoples especially interesting in light of numerous experiences I’ve had over that past several years with Native Americans. And my desire to learn more, which is one of the main reasons I plan to participate in the First Nation–Farmer Climate Unity March.
Here are Mark’s sacred questions:
What life stage am I in and what is the developmental imperative?
How can this quest serve my living family to learn, heal and grow from the diaspora, both upstream and downstream from me? How do my ancestors live through me? What kind of ancestor will I be?
What is the lineage of my ancestors from this moment back through to a specific person’s feet on specific soil?
What was going on at the time that they left, culturally, politically, economically, ecologically?
What was left behind in exchange for a new life?
How does what I’m learning reflect on my life-work of regenerating healthy culture and my history of learning from native peoples?
Mark Morey, “Sacred Questions and Helpers on the Journey”