Plain Living…A Summer Study

by Pam Douglass

Throughout the summer, a group of parishioners studied the book, Plain Living: A Quaker Path to Simplicity by Catherine Whitmire.

First, this is a terrific book for any Christian to pull down from the shelf. Rob mentioned in our first class that it should be used as a devotional, and he was absolutely right! Great thoughts, quotes, poems, and prayers grace these pages and are arranged in topics pertinent to our common lives and quests, such as work, time, fear, suffering, aging, longing, and seeking. Chapters on growing together in community, decision-making, conflict resolution, and spirited service also provide guidance for our lives. Second, the class had enriching and meaningful discussions based on each chapter. It was an opportunity to pray, reflect, seek, and share related experiences from our own lives.

To top it off, we reached out to the local West Knoxville Friends meeting and four of us attended one of their services. We enjoyed an hour of silent worship followed by many warm welcomes, greetings, discussions, and a potluck lunch. We found them to be a joyous group, filled with the Spirit, and full of love. We made good friends. They were hosting an area-wide youth group that was planning youth retreats for the coming year. These young people joined us for the silent worship for a period of time, and the leaders spoke about their purpose and vision in the gathering.

We are grateful for the entire experience with this book and the West Knoxville Friends. Joining together in silence for a period of time is healing and enriches us. I believe it gives the Holy Spirit some space to come in to our minds in the quiet of contemplation. I feel that Plain Living has extended my faith in many ways and nurtured that which is deep inside that joins me to the expanse of God’s creation.

“Through the lens of the Spirit I can see, though imperfectly, that we are all one in creation….In the deepest sense, my individuality is an illusion.” ~ Bruce Birchard, 1997 taken from Plain Living page 177.