So, about the spirituality thing... 
Those with long memories might remember that I took some meditation classes a year or two back, at the Buddhist Centre in Glasgow (it's on Sauchiehall Street, above an Indian restaurant called the Kama Sutra, which I always think is good for a laugh). I really enjoyed the classes, and I've kept up my meditation, off and on, since then. It's been a godsend when travelling, or when unsettled, or when tired. And I've had no shortage of those things this year. 
Although it is a thing I can do on my own, I've missed the communal practice in meditation that I had at the Buddhist Centre. in particular, the Loving Kindness meditation, which is a favourite of mine, seems to be more powerful, and the feeling of peace I have after it to last longer, when I do it in company. 
I miss that, and wanted to get it back. I've no real desire to take my interest in Buddhism further, though. I admire those who do, and I'm glad they do it, but it feels too uninvolved, too purposefully uninvolved with the world, to engage me. I'm not ready to step away from the world, even if what I see is only an illusion. 

I have a deep suspicion of other religions, though. Not because Religion is Evil - to me that's a statement that makes as much sense as saying Electricity is evil, or water, or the Internet. Bad things are done with religion, and over the internet, and I don't trust still waters, but none of those things are evil. At the same time, I'm not happy with going through the rituals of a religion I'm suspicious of (that's actually a Big Fat Lie - I am a complete sucker for organ recitals in Notre Dame, for pagan fire festivals, and one of the deepest spiritual experiences of my life happened on the Ganges. But those are mostly one-offs, not a practice). 

My sort of religion, I've been wont to say, would be one where people of deep conviction gathered together to do... absolutely nothing. To share the notion that love is more powerful than evil, that evil can be confronted with the example of love, and that there's no need to get all embarassingly vocal about it. Also, that behaving with honour is a lot more important than talking about behaving with honour. That talking, in fact, is a lot less important than action. 

You can probably see where this is going, which is a lot more than I did. 

As of yesterday, I think I've been to six Quaker Meetings. Three in Muswell Hill in London, one in Glasgow, one in Brighton and one in Tarbet, Loch Fyne. Which makes half a dozen hours sitting in a silent circle, while people look inside themselves for traces of the divine, and listen for its voice. The verse in the Bible that's always spoken to me most is "Be still, and know that I am god." I've often used those words when meditating, when I'm trying to become still. I don't really think of them in a specifically Christian context. And, up till now at least, I don't really put the Quaker meetings in a Christian context. I still think, mostly, that any attempt to interpret God is outside the bounds of what humans can do - it's the old, trying to pour a quart into a pint pot problem. What we get back are images of ourselves. If we are lucky, they are images of the best of our selves. If not, then the reflections can be very dark. 

No one has tried to make me into a Quaker. I have a sneaking suspicion no one thinks they can. I've not entered into any deep discussion on spirituality, or what it means to be a Quaker. The closest I've got was in Tarbet, when one of the announcements was about a visit to the Faslane Peace Camp. I said something about having been there not long after it was set up, in '83 or thereabouts, with Scottish CND. The old buffer next to me smiled encouragingly, and said he'd been on the first Aldermaston March. 

I'm not sure how, or if this will develop. But I've learned to value those silent hours, strung out like little beads of peace in the shuttling loom of travel and work which my life seems to be at the moment, and I thought I'd share that with you. 



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