Quaker Life, Death and Resurrection, Summer 2023: E-PUB VERSION
Friends United Meeting

Quaker Life, Death and Resurrection, Summer 2023: E-PUB VERSION

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Purchase a single copy of the Summer 2023 issue of Quaker Life: A mosaic of Friendly living on the theme of Death and Resurrection.


The idea of life after death is a central precept of Christianity, founded as it is upon the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Yet most followers of Jesus wrestle all our lives to understand the nature of the cross and the meaning of resurrection. The authors in this death and resurrection issue of Quaker Life focus on a wide array of perspectives on death, the meaning of death for the living, and the meaning and possibilities of resurrection.

Julie Rudd writes that, while she usually feels more centered in the eternal after participating in the liturgical observance of Ash Wednesday, she was appalled this year to find her infant twins drawn into the service when ashy crosses were traced upon their heads. Yet she reminds herself that, even though the babies are so young, they, too, are mortal, and that it is precisely within and among the Friends of her faith community that she is assisted in navigating between “the ephemeral and the eternal, the shakeable and the unshakeable.”

Bill Eagles and Andy Stanton-Henry, though in very different circumstances, also write about the encouragement that can come from other human beings at times of spiritual difficulty. Eagles writes about how a prison guard, by recognizing him as a fellow human being, eased his fears and gave him a measure of peace. Stanton-Henry considers how we need to find other people who can discern with us what parts of our social or institutional structures have fallen apart, which pieces need to be let go, and how to build or rebuild what meets our present needs.

In his Bible study, Kelly Kellum writes about the dark time between Good Friday and the resurrection, and how we sometimes find ourselves in that same sort of spiritual space—with our lives on hold and all of our certainties turned upside down. In the story of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, he finds three tactics for waiting through the darkness.

As a woodturner, Michael Sherman finds himself particularly attracted to uncommon pieces of wood—to trees or beams that have experienced insect infestations or fire or rot, or the places in a trunk where limbs intersect each other and intertwine. The evidence of the wood’s struggle lends beauty to its patterns—in the same way, he says, that persons who suffer may become more beautiful in their ability to become God’s kingdom.

Along similar lines, Brian Drayton discovers, in an often-overlooked work by the Renaissance humanist Erasmus, an explanation for why death—especially the death of our worldliness—can lead us to more abundant life. And Marlene Pedigo writes about the experience in Cabrini-Green that led her to understand that she could not minister in a violent environment without nailing her own fear to the cross and undergoing the “transformatory death” of which Drayton writes.

Kathy Kellum and Travis Etling reflect on different aspects of their work as chaplains at life’s end. Kellum reflects on how her experiences with people near death have undergirded her certainty that life and death are a continuum, that existence continues on the other side of mortality, and that God is also present in that new life. Working with the dying and their families at the time of the Covid pandemic, Etling comes to see grief and love as two sides of the same coin, and to recognize that the pain of a loved one’s death is easier to bear than the social and biological distance engendered by the pandemic.

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