Dear Friends,

In lightly programmed worship this past week, I read a poem by Mary Oliver called “Whistling Swans.” I love Mary Oliver’s poetry, and some lines from this poem stood out for me. Lines like “don’t worry about what language you use, God no doubt understands them all.” I am grateful to be part of a community that uses different language for God and hears the voice of the Spirit in the whistling swans as well as in the still, small voice.

I am also glad to welcome more Guilford students into the meetinghouse! I started teaching a six-week course on prophetesses in the Bible for the Quaker Leadership Scholars Program last week and the class is meeting in the Brotherhood Room. We have had more Guilford students visiting worship, and I look forward to having some come to our training on pastoral visitation. It is a joy to deepen our connections with our neighbors across the street, and I appreciate the warm welcome they have received from Friends in New Garden Friends Meeting.

Blessings, Ashley

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Office Hours on Monday from 2-4pm and by appointment


Whistling Swans

Do you bow your head when you pray or do you look up into that blue space?
Take your choice, prayers fly from all directions.
And don’t worry about what language you use, God no doubt understands them all.
Even when the swans are flying north and making such a ruckus of noise, God is surely listening and understanding.
Rumi said,  There is no proof of the soul.
But isn’t the return of spring and how it springs up in our hearts a pretty good hint?
Yes, I know, God’s silence never breaks, but is that really a problem?
There are thousands of voices, after all.
And furthermore, don’t you imagine (I just suggest it) that the swans know about as much as we do about the whole business?
So listen to them and watch them, singing as they fly.
Take from it what you can.

by Mary Oliver