Bath Inter Faith group – which includes several Bath Quakers – was invited to the Bath mayor’s customary annual reception. This year’s theme was water.
Here is the text of the presentation by Shelagh James to the group:
As Friends we think that we should live our whole lives sacramentally. We do not have sacraments as others from a Christian tradition do (baptism especially comes to mind in relation to the Mayor’s theme of water).
What came into my mind was a visit made by John and me some years ago to a remote Quaker Meeting house in the Radnor Forest. We discovered that Friends from Pales had gone to America at a time of persecution in Britain to spread their message of access to God through the inner light which is available to all without need of priests. They travelled across the Atlantic in a small sailing boat, arrived safely and were able to worship freely.
Who would want to make the journey back? However when Pales Meeting needed support Friends did not hesitate to make the dangerous voyage back. An American Friend established a school there which continued until the coming of state education in the 19th Century.
The sea deserves our respect, as do those who – some would say recklessly – faced danger for their beliefs.
Pales is a simple yet beautiful thatched Meeting House used for Quaker Meetings and for various activities including peace and the arts for those of all ages.
We need to respect water as well as take risks. One of our aids to worship where we wait in silence for divine inspiration is a small booklet entitled Advices and Queries which contains suggestions. One of these is
Try to live simply. A simple lifestyle freely chosen is a source of strength. Do not be persuaded into buying what you do not need or cannot afford. Do you keep yourself informed about the effects your style of living is having on the global economy and environment.”
Friends have since the C17th expressed this concern.
The last point I wish to make is something very recent. When Friends are bothered by something that needs to change it is called having a concern An individual Friend brings this to their local Meeting and if it is felt to matter particularly it is taken further. A recent concern is related to water. A friend raised the question of the inability of homeless people to take showers .
Our personal dignity and self respect depends very much on our ability to keep ourselves clean. We once had public baths in every town, now long closed down. How can a homeless person move on towards a better life when he or she lacks the ability to be clean?
Bath is a better place than most, with Julian House offering support, but homelessness has increased enormously and deaths on the street. Helping people with cleanliness would also bring them nearer to medical help.
This is an up to date plea for the right use of water.
- Richard Carder, who is both Druid and Quaker, also presented to the Meeting. He spoke about the miraculous properties of water. Speaking from a Druid perspective he discussed the work of the author Masaru Emoto, the Austrian inventor and philosopher Victor Schauberger, and Jacques Benveniste (author of a famous and much-discussed paper for Nature about “water memory” which is cited in support of homeopathy). Richard was led to this by the work of Dr Alick Bartholomew who lived in Wellow, and died in 2015, published Turnstone Books and Gateway Books, and used to run spiritual talks in Bath for the Wessex Research Trust.
Richard Carder’s talk was illuminated with water crystal photographs by the author Masaru Emoto.