Some (Borrowed) Quaker Queries on Simplicity

Awhile back I visited a nearby Quaker meeting with Robin and Chris while they were in town. It was my first experience in an unprogrammed meeting and I really appreciated my experience there and it got me thinking more about queries. One thing I have always loved about Quaker practice are the use of queries, which I’ve written about plenty before.

The meeting house we visited is a part of Pacific Yearly Meeting and were in the process of going through the Advices and Queries. They had papers with the queries written on them laying on the pews, so I picked one up and carefully read it over during the time of silence.

Reasons Why I Use Queries
A. It is a form, dare I say, of Quaker liturgy which I find to be beautiful and can be used in various ways to worship God.

B. It is narrative based. When I consider, and pray queries, stories are evoked, pictures appear and examples are promoted in our hearts.

C. It is a wonderful way to bring about discipleship because they point us to a Gospel centered lifestyle exemplified in Jesus Christ.

This last reason is why I am publicizing these queries. That little piece of paper with queries written on it made it’s way into my bag. Why not, the note at the top of the page says, “Please save this to be used again,??? and so I took it for its word and stowed it away. I have been using those queries again and again and have been enriched by them.

I was impacted by these spiritually directed questions this past week when I purchased a new/used bike for my commute (more on that new bike later this week).

As I was trying to customize the bike to fit my needs I continued to battle the desire to really trick it out, add some of the really nice (i.e. expensive) parts to it to make it extra sweet. One query keep running through my head though, prompting me to wait and consider the choices I was about to make.

“Do I recognize when I have enough????

See I’ve reflected on that query a few times in my morning prayer time and it came back to me at the most inopportune time! But I took it seriously and considered it. Because of it I changed my mind about some of the things I was going to do because they were beyond what I really needed.

And that’s it, spiritual formation consists in, stopping, reflecting and considering where our lives in Christ fit into the choices we make on a daily basis. This process takes a lifetime and I need all the help I can get. These queries on simplicity aid in this formation and so I wanted to share those with you today.

These are taken directly from this page, visit this page for a few wonderfully reflective quotes on simplicity as well.

Queries on Simplicity

  • Do I center my life in an awareness of God’s presence so that all things take their rightful place?
  • Do I live simply, and promote the right sharing of the world’s bounty?
  • Do I keep my life uncluttered with things and activities, avoiding commitments beyond my strength and light?
  • How do I maintain simplicity, moderation, and honesty in my speech, my manner of living, and my daily work?
  • Do I recognize when I have enough?
  • Is the life of our Meeting so ordered that it helps us to simplify our lives?

For more queries from PYM visit their web-page and click through.

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Published by

Wess

...is the William R. Roger Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.

11 thoughts on “Some (Borrowed) Quaker Queries on Simplicity”

  1. A few years ago when I lived in Milwaukee and considered buying a house, I found myself drawn to the same query, though I don’t know where I had come across it: Do I recognize when I have enough?

    That query led me down a real estate path that I could not have predicted, given the lifestyle of my parents and the owning class into which I was born.

    That query has made all the difference, and I return to it from time to time. I’m glad it’s there, to be honest.

    Blessings,
    Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

  2. Can I still get mac & cheese (that is fattening and way too much to eat) at Jewish diners if I take these queries seriously? Well?

    I think more of us should ask ourselves this when eating big meals:

    Do I recognize when I have [had] enough?

    {ahem}

  3. @ Liz – thanks for the comment. Your decision in buying a house is huge and to have allowed the query to have that effect in your life is wonderful. Thanks for sharing the story.

    @Joe – Are you quite possibily suggesting that the 2 lbs of smoked turkey rueben I ate last night at dinner with you and Emily was a bit more than enough? Because if so…I agree. I really wanted to unbutton my pants and breathe a little. But your 5 lbs of mac n’ cheese was way more overboard!

  4. That same Meeting has a similar set of queries for children which I like very much. Like SF Meeting, they read theirs at the beginning of meeting for worship once a month – both the PYM and the children’s queries.

    For eighth month:
    Simplicity begins with placing God at the center of our lives.
    Do I let God help me make the right choices?
    Am I wasteful?
    Do I want all the toys I see on t.v. , even though my room is full?
    Do I tell the truth?
    Do I always want more even though I have enough?
    Does my Meeting help me understand how to live simply?

  5. Queries really are one of the most effective forms of spiritual training we can use with kids. The kinds of queries Robin posted frame a child’s life in the spiritual and give them a chance to look for God rather than simply being told about God. Good stuff.

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