Now more than ever: the ocean of light and love
Margaret Clark, Canberra and District Quakers
Two weeks after Hamas brought death to the Supernova music festival at Kibbutz Be’eri, I attended a bat mitzvah at the local synagogue. When commencing the service, the rabbi reminded us that every life has times of darkness and times of light, including this significant day, even as a deep darkness was spreading over Israel Palestine.
In his journal George Fox wrote “I saw also that there was an ocean of darkness and death, but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness” (1647). It is often said that Fox’s “ocean of darkness” was a personal description of his experience with depression and despair, and the experience of an ocean of divine love so intense that it overcame the feeling of hopelessness and isolation. With respect to things personal, the metaphor can also describe shared global experiences of both deep despair and fear, and great light and hope, including the current circumstances in Palestine Israel.
Anyone who has been caught in an ocean’s undertow has no doubt about its power. The sudden loss of balance, strong powerful forces pulling one down and under; no possibility of taking a breath as each wave pounds face, ears and eyes. Fear, panic, and desperation as the wet darkness enfolds one into the silent abyss. It’s often impossible to stay calm or rational. Arms and legs thrash wildly, hoping to fight back the darkness, and find the surface light. Even from the safety of the shore, a memory – no matter how distant, vague or even inherited, can erupt and the urgent need to fight is overwhelming.
Both Palestinians and Israelis are caught in a shared dark undertow, relentless and full of heightened generational passion. Most are ordinary people living, perhaps barely, in a disastrous situation.
Many faiths, including Christianity, have stories of those who could still a raging ocean and calm storms. “He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves” (Psalm 107:29, NLT). It’s fair to say that Friends have the capacity, if not the calling, to seek divine guidance in building the “ocean of light”, disrupting those decisions and actions that threaten to pull humanity into an even darker crevasse.
Some Friends courageously follow leadings to bring oceans of light into areas of dangerous conflict. For most of us, those opportunities are closer to home, but no less challenging. It requires courage to remain open, and responsive to that of God in each person, including those with whom we fundamentally disagree.
Fox was clear, the ocean of light and love is infinite. It is not only far larger than the ocean of darkness, but also endless. Significantly, it flows over the darkness unperturbed by the undertow beneath, regardless of how turbulently it churns.
In short, Light and love always triumph over hatred and anger.
In jointly awarding the 1947 Nobel Peace Prize to the Friends Service Council and the American Friends Service Committee, the Nobel Committee celebrated “their pioneering work in the international peace movement and compassionate effort to relieve human suffering…carried out without regard for race or nationality”. In the intervening seventy-six years Friends have untaken many acts, both great and small, to relieve human suffering, remove the occasion for war, and work toward ensuring that the ocean of light and love prevails.
Friends, our current times are no different, the urgency is unmistakable, and the needs are great. In words and deeds we must seek that of God in everyone and re-commit fully, passionately, to the living ocean of Divine Light and Love.
Sue Parritt, Victoria Regional Meeting. Silver Wattle rhythm Spirit Song Silence Hearts and Minds Listening Absorbing Our different journeys Along the road To Light and Love These words came to me during Meeting for...Read More