Quakers

I have been associated with the Quakers in the UK on and off since I was in my early 20’s. I went back to Meeting for Worship (which is what Quakers call their Sunday gathering) today for the first time in a year. I have wanted to go back for a long time but my health has meant that I needed to concentrate on family and work only so that I could make sure I did those two things well rather than more things badly. Thankfully now my GP has made a change to my pain medication I’m able to do more again.

It was so lovely today to sit in silence with them – it was like coming home. I don’t have to be anything except myself there. I don’t have to perform or be on my best behaviour. There’s no singing or standing up or sitting down, no reciting of prayers or bread or wine. Nothing is really done and yet everything is accomplished. It reminds me quite strongly of Lao Tzu.

One of the long time members at our Meeting left to go to a retirement home about this time last year. So I wanted to paint her a picture of our Meeting for Worship to remember us by. I began by sketching during our Meeting one Sunday last year. I still have the sketches that I made but I haven’t asked anyone for persmission to put their portrait up here so I’m not going to do that. For the final painting I decided to paint the people in the meeting in outline only and to colour them according to how I see the Quaker Testimonies (which are concepts that are important to Quakers – Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality and Stewardship). Community was not done as a colour but was intrinsic in the image of a group of people sitting together. I also added a white line around each person to speak to the Quaker idea of the Light. It was done in a mixture of watercolour and gouache.

Anyway, here’s the final painting…

October Ink – Pine Cones and Meditation

I have always loved the pattern of pinecones but have never tried to draw one before so it was a pleasure to have a go at this…

It was done using my Pigma Micron pens, a brush pen and, for the shadow, a non-permanent ink washed out with water on a brush.

My second drawing for this week was on the theme of “Meditation”.  When I’m well enough nowadays I go to the Quaker Meeting for Worship.  It is what people in the US would call unprogrammed worship.  There is no sermon, or songs or litergy.  People just sit together in silence.  If someone feels “led” they stand up and speak to the Meeting.  I still don’t know what “led” means in this context so I never speak.  It’s no loss though because the whole speaking thing is a mindfield when you have autism.  The thing that I love is the chance to be with other people in an almost intimate silence where I don’t have to think about how to connect to them or speak to them – just sitting there is enough.

In my long lost past (somehwere in the Jurassic!!) I practiced Buddhism for about 12 years.  Again this was really just sitting.  It was the Soto Zen practice as taught by Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey and a monk who travelled down to a centre in the South called Brother Raymond.  I think I got the same feeling of silent companionship from that too.  It also gave me the ability to let everything go in meditation and just be.  This is the most comfortable peaceful place I’ve ever been to.  At first it was hard, my mind just kept going when I told it to stop.  But I found I could do it if I concentrated on the weight of my body  on the floor and just noticed each thing and let it go.

So this picture of meditation, although quite abstract is about these two experiences…

 

 

The idea is that the world is all going on outside and the person meditating has just stepped of the metaphorical conveyor belt for a while and just sits there breathing.

 

At first when I made this picture it was like this…

I couldn’t darken it with my brush pen because it’s got a bit blocked up so I did it digitally…

Then I added a shadow around the person to highlight how the world just dims and quietens in meditation…

Having done all of that I’m not sure if I like the final result.  Sometimes I think the original ink drawing was better…

(With Shadows)
(Original)