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Be still and cool in thy own mind and spirit

Be still and cool in thy own mind and spirit from thy own thoughts, and then thou wilt feel the principle of God to turn thy mind to the Lord God, whereby thou wilt receive his strength and power from whence life comes, to allay all tempests, against blusterings and storms. That is it which moulds up into patience, into innocency, into soberness, into stillness, into stayedness, into quietness, up to God, with his power. -- George Fox, 1658

As modern day Friends, when considering these thoughts by George Fox, it is easy to move away from the depth of opportunity contained within by being distracted by language. For some, thee and thy is the ‘stop’ (another Quaker term, of course), for others, unfamiliar word choice, or even use of male pronouns to define God, and sadly, still others who see a reference to God and disconnect at once. However, for the purposes of spiritual reflection, we find it necessary to allow some challenge in order to grow. If we avoid any of the edges, we will find ourselves wearing down a diminishing though familiar path. So the encouragement is to test the difficulty, then proceed in grace. When we practice discernment, we are calling to the front our need to still our minds, our bodies, and lay ourselves open, expectantly, to Spirit. This stillness deepens with practice, and the ease in which we enter it is also a reflection of how intentionally we seek this path. The secular world places immediate demands on our attention and time, magnified by job and family responsibilities, distorted by interaction with media, and our response is not always as anchored as we would like to our center, our faith, our God. Fox using the phrase, principle of God to turn thy mind to the Lord God, is certainly language of the time, but the idea transcends—when we are still and cool we are closer to the foundational roots that ground us in God, and thus the reach to God is more accessible. From this access, having already moved ourselves from our own best ideas and entered a place of willingness, we additionally find ourselves available to a strength and power that will sustain us in weathering life as life presents, the tempests, blusterings, and storms of interactions, hate-filled rhetoric, and injustice. This source continues to shape and form us (for those who don’t like the British spelling of mould, either…) into examples of stayedness, which is an archaic usage describing a condition of resolve or intense conviction. And what are Friends, if not convicted, if not those called to live in that Power, to draw upon that Inner Light, to let their lives speak, to stand for and with others. We are a people who live that principle and turn our minds to God to fund us for this work.

Jan Dahm