Personal Integrity/Right Action
On the surface, the Queries and Advices for Eighth Month seem to affirm who we are as Quakers. Simply stated, “personal integrity and right action” anchor our expression in the world.
For Friends, integrity is foundational and historical – our words are not empty, our practices are steeped in right action and intentional process, and our relational activity is grounded in God. Truth is not static or an occasional option; it is a fundamental element revealed in our ongoing relationship with the Light. As we deepen our inner life, our ability to better apprehend the nuances of connection in the leadings of the Spirit is a natural and grace-filled result.
As with most aspects of a life lived in the manner of Friends, what seems simple on the surface is usually rooted in a deep faith and persevering practice. The Queries and Advices for Eighth Month are clear on what we do, why we do it, and how we get there. Some modern day Friends ride easily on the reputation of earlier Friends whose lives spoke loudly in witness and integrity. It is not that we are competing with this “cloud of witnesses” but it is important to acknowledge that we must be compelled by our testimony of Integrity in all that we do. When we say we are Quaker, we represent a long history of those who were faithful and made courageous choices. We are authentic when we come from a place of integrity, and as Friends, we find that integrity rises up from our faith.
When we ask if we “make time in our day for silence, solitude, spiritual reflection, and growth of our inner life,” we are actually affirming how we ground our lives in God. This is an intentional practice that is not meant to be ponderous; even small moments of spiritual connection can be profoundly nourishing. The important piece is regular practice. If the only time we seek the “still, small voice” is in worship on First Day, we will probably have a harder time quieting our minds and centering down. The more we sink into the silence in our own daily lives, the more we feed our spirit and counter the negative influences that shadow our sense of peace. When we regularly immerse ourselves in that Light and Love, we are better able to be the examples in the world that Fox called for. Our integrity is a demonstration of our faith, rooted in our spiritual practices. We know God’s gifts are working in us when we listen beyond words; we are tender and open when we are willing and know we are all one in God; we are faithful when we seek and are of service to others. When our integrity is constant, visible, and unrelenting, we are standing firm in our faith as Quakers.
Lisa Erazmus and Jan Dahm
Tampa Monthly Meeting