Category Archives: Stories-Quaker

A Quaker Christmas Story: Candles In The Window

A Quaker Christmas Story: Candles in the Window

Prelude: In 2020, Madison, Wisconsin Friends Meeting produced a live drama version of this story, and sent us the following review:

Chuck and Nancy (Pickering),
 
Thank you for Candles in the Window, the story and (Nancy’s) script.  When the Madison First Day School children presented the play on Zoom this past Sunday, it was received with joy by the Meeting.
 
I believe Friends were surprised and grateful during this time, when we so hunger to lift our spirits, to receive such a poignant message from our children.  I’ll confess that I was surprised at the sincerity with which the children embodied the story.  Rehearsals were pretty rough and I had my doubts, but young Friends (with their parents’ help no doubt) studied their scripts and acquitted themselves beautifully in performance. The actors for Abram (Elias Watson) and Gran (Piper Hirsh, Sally’s granddaughter) affected credible British lilts, probably thanks to having seen more than one Harry Potter movie. The narrator (Uly Brelsford) read with quiet, convincing expression, even overcoming giggles when the sound effects man (Reece Dixson-Kruijf) played a resounding recording
of shattering glass.
 
At the close, we in the audience turned on our video (the Zoom version of bringing up the house lights) with warm applause, grateful smiles all around and more than one face bearing signs of tears.
 
We adapted the attached script to Zoom, moving nonverbal stage business into the voice of the narrator. Costumes were simple: hats and bonnets. There were sound effects at various points to emphasize the action. Scene changes were signs held up and read by the stagehand. The youngest children made pictures of candles in windows and held them up at various points as they were led.
 

We asked the audience to mute themselves and take themselves off video, which sent them into the background and brought the actors forward into the first screen. The actors were in ‘gallery view’, each being highlighted when they spoke.  The resulting performance was convincing.   

Again, thank you for this wonderful story, calling us to stay true to Friends’ testimonies of simplicity, integrity and peace, especially when the world around us is riven with strife and fear. My favorite scenes are when Abram, then Gran and Abram, climb the dales into the peace of the emerging night, the hubbub and strife of human enterprise receding below them. 

If you have occasion to come this way when the pandemic lifts, please let us know in advance.  We would love to host you and introduce you to the children of Madison Meeting. Perhaps you may even tell them a story.
 

Love and Light,

Sita Diehl

Madison Friends Meeting


Part I: The View from Castleberg

pendle_hill_winter470_470x300
A winter view of Pendle Hill from the Yorkshire Dales, England[
This Quaker Christmas story takes place in the  village of Settle, Yorkshire, England – 12th Month, 1814. In those days, candles in the window were not a peaceful sight . . . .

Abram Woodhouse was late, and he knew it. But even so, as the daylight faded he climbed the path up Castleberg hill on the north edge of Settle.

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A Continuing Quaker Thumbprint on Japanese (& World) History

A Continuing Quaker Thumbprint on Japanese (& World) History

Recently, there’s news about how the Japanese prime minister is about to dump the antiwar provisions of Japan’s constitution — which have kept Japanese troops from fighting in other countries for seventy years.

Hey — what could possibly go wrong?

There have been loud street protests there against this impending change. Good on them.

Japanese-antiwar-protest

 

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For Friendly Summer Reading: Two New Books

For Friendly Summer Reading: Two New Books —
Quaker Stories & Friendly FAQs

#1–
So you know I’ve been interested in Quakers and Quakerism for decades.
I began exploring this interest by writing stories about Friends in 1977.
Beginning in 1989, I was asked to read my Quaker and other stories to campers and adults at Friends Music Camp, at the Olney Friends School in Ohio, where Friend Peg Champney was the founding Director. I’ve been invited back to read more of these stories every summer since.
Now I’ve collected nineteen of these stories in a new book, “Posies for Peg.”

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A Quaker Story about U.S. Concentration Camps in World War Two

INTRODUCTION

Finding beauty where you are: the sky at Manzanar..

Wikipedia: The Day of Remembrance (DOR) is a day of observance for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Events in numerous U.S. states, especially in the West Coast, are held on or near February 19, the day in 1942 that Executive Order 9066 was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, requiring internment of all Americans of Japanese ancestry.

An excerpt from a recent interview with Star Trek actor George Takei:

[I]n my early teens, my father, who I realize now, what an unusual, rare person he was, he started discussing the internment with me in our after-dinner conversations. My father was unusual in that respect, I discovered later on, because so many other Japanese American parents of my parents’ generation didn’t talk about their experience with their children. Because either they were so ashamed by it or so pained, so hurt by it, that they didn’t want to inflict that on their children. All the children knew was that they were in camp.


You know, my father said resilience is not all just teeth-gritting determination. It’s also the strength to find and see beauty in an ugly situation. To be able to find joy, make our joy, behind barbed wires and all these people wallowing in their misery. Some were angry. Some were completely devastated, and marriages were breaking up — and he said, we’ve got to develop a community. And he was a baseball player in San Francisco as a young man and played with a Japanese American team. And he said, we’ve got to build a baseball diamond. And that brought people together, working as a team. And teenagers had nothing to do and they needed to have fun. So after the mess hall dinner, he negotiated with the camp command to have the guards bring a record player over, and they had dances. I remember, our barrack was right across from the mess hall. And my mother put us to sleep. And I drifted off to sleep hearing the big band sound of Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman wafting over the night air from the mess halls. And so, you know, resilience takes many, many different forms. . . .

And so when we developed a musical that played on Broadway, “Allegiance,” so many younger Japanese Americans came backstage to tell us how they were moved by the show and tell me that their parents or their grandparents were in camp. I’d ask them, “Oh, which camp were they in?” Their face was a complete blank. So, to help them out: “Was it in Wyoming? Colorado? Arkansas? Idaho?”

They knew nothing about it. So I do my advocacy not only for my country, but for my community. There are so many Japanese Americans, younger Japanese Americans — and, from my vantage point, anyone under 60 is considered younger — [who] don’t know their own family histories.


And America, to a large extent, doesn’t know its American history. People that I considered well-read, well-informed people, when I told them about my childhood, were aghast that something like that happened. And so that made me think, I’m going to have to do a bit more storytelling.”

His graphic novel, “They Called Us Enemy”:

> My Unexpected Visit to Manzanar, the U. S. Concentration Camp, With a Special Niche for Quakers

An excerpt from a statement by president Biden, February 18, 2022:

“I have always believed that great nations do not ignore their most painful moments — they confront them with honesty and, in doing so, learn from them and grow stronger as a result. The incarceration of Japanese Americans 80 years ago is a reminder to us today of the tragic consequences we invite when we allow racism, fear, and xenophobia to fester.

Today, we reaffirm the Federal Government’s formal apology to Japanese Americans whose lives were irreparably harmed during this dark period of our history, and we solemnly reflect on our collective moral responsibility to ensure that our Nation never again engages in such un-American acts. We acknowledge the intergenerational trauma and loss that the incarceration of Japanese Americans has caused. We also uplift the courage and resilience of brave Japanese Americans who, despite being unjustly incarcerated, formed powerful communities and marshalled incredible dignity and strength.”

> A 3-Day conference on memory and reckoning with the internment is at at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. More information here.

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A Quaker Story of Remembrance –and Maybe Prophecy

Pirates Six, Cubs Three

Pittsburgh, PA, sometime in the 1980s.

Harry Nelson: I wasn’t having a good night. And I hadn’t had a good day. Needleman in the Washington office had called just after lunch. “Nelson,” he barked, “We need you here right away.”

I had to help the boss get ready for a big hearing at the Defense Systems Commission. Tomorrow.

I told him I’d promised to take the kids to a ballgame.

3-Rivers-Stadium

Needleman wasn’t impressed. “They play ballgames in Pittsburgh every night, Nelson,” he said. “We get a chance at a hundred million dollar contract once every ten years, if we’re lucky. This hearing could win it for us. The boss needs your data, and he needs you here to explain it to him. Tonight.”

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Eating Dr. King’s Dinner – A Moderately Long Holiday Read

On February 1, 1965, I was arrested in Selma, Alabama with Dr. Martin Luther King and 250 others. Here’s what happened that day, and how I ended up eating Dr. King’s dinner.

I – Blocking the View, Blocking the Road

King-ArrestThat morning, I was too tense to eat. Keyed up and ready, my thoughts were full of armies marching to battle.

It was February 1, 1965. I was part of a nonviolent “army” – or at least a battalion – set to march in Selma, Alabama that day. Our objective, the territory we hoped to occupy, was downtown, the Dallas County jail; we planned to capture it by getting arrested.

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Revelation On Rose Street: A Progressive Quaker Story

Stephen S. Foster, abolitionist
Stephen S. Foster, abolitionist. (Not a songwriter.)

New York City – A fine autumn day in 1843

I was still feeling a bit weak that first Day morning, after several days in bed with a bilious fever. But I was now better, and the weather in New York was fair.

My good wife agreed. “Jacob, a walk to Meeting would likely do thee good. It is only four blocks to Rose Street, after all.”

Several men Friends were milling around near the broad meetinghouse steps, on their way into the building. But one lingered, not going in. His tall figure was unmistakable even though his grey coat and broadbrim hat were like all the others.

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Another Midsummer Night’s Dream — A Story

 A Story by Chuck Fager
Copyright (c) All rights reserved

PART ONE: Four Days Into Lockdown

LockdownIt was hot. The summer of 1970 was burning scorched-looking brown spots in the green Pennsylvania hills, and made the wide cornfields around us crackle, as if their just-forming ears were going to swell up and start popping any minute now.

Inside the wall, humidity condensed and trickled down the walls of our cells, and the smells of mildew and old sweat were everywhere. It occurred to me that it must be something like this in the rice paddies of Vietnam. That was an irony for you: I had refused to join the army and go the rice paddies, so rice paddy weather had come to me.

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