A is for Afterwards

This year I have committed to participating in the Quaker Alphabet Blog Project. I have created a separate page with a little more information too. What it means is that I will try to post a blog for each letter of the alphabet thoughout the year, interpreting this theme as it takes my fancy and reading what others write. I must be a glutton for punishment: I barely managed the Bloggers for Peace monthly post in 2013! Still, EBL is always up for a challenge. Either I can feel a great sense of achievement or have fun beating myself up for failing. What’s not to like?

So today I start with A for Afterwards. Because when you start something I find it pays to think a little about what happens afterwards. I am a project manager. I get paid to do this kind of stuff.

I suppose Afterwards is in my mind because in starting this project I am already thinking about what more I will be committing to doing in 2015. That’s the way the EBL brain works I’m afraid. Never focus on today when there is a hypothetical future to take all my attention and energy away from the moment.

“But EBL! This is supposed to be a Quaker Alphabet!” I hear you cry.

Oh, alright. Let’s get down to it.

One of the things that appealed to me about Quakerism when I came across it in the green of my youth was the lack of going-on about an Afterlife and Heaven and Hell and all kinds of similar dubiousness. I liked very much the focus on practical doing and thinking about how to make our current and shared existence a better one. (And yes, I am aware this is in painful contradiction to the earlier paragraph where I confessed to focusing on the future at the expense of the present. I’m only human you know. It’s an ambition to be more present, rather than an actual, you know, achievement.)

Back to the Quakers though. People are what can make a difference. They make it not only in their contribution to community and the wide world, but also in the odd comment or conversation which can affect other lives. I was a member of a particular Quaker Meeting on the outskirts of London where I met a very special Quaker who once spoke about her understanding of the Afterlife.

Have you had the experience of finding someone who articulates for you what you wish or hope were true. Life after death was not a regular feature of the discussion I had been participating in, so I was not entirely clear what other Quakers thought about it. It was therefore with the most wonderful feeling of relief that I heard this learned and respected person tell me what I felt in my heart to be true.

“I don’t care about what comes after I die,” she said. “I’ll find out if and when it happens. Life is more important.”

This for me summed up what I felt to be important in my faith: life, in the here and now, was the most important thing to think about. Not hypothetical future events of a frankly superstitious and unverifiable nature.

And so, my dears, it is. We live this life together, as many times as fits your personal belief framework, and we can but help each other along the way. There is no After that is not Now.

I wish you all a beautiful year, and thank you for keeping with me on the journey so far.

Namaste.

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3 thoughts on “A is for Afterwards

  1. Whilst I agree with most of what your writing I also believe in Life after death. I have had a number of experiences which point in this direction. However Death may be a terminal event . Many Quakers not only nontheists believe this. In considering the subject under a-afterwards there may be an inplied assumption that there is an afterlife. I am a christian primarily -as are the vast majority of Quakers in the world if not in Britain -and a Quaker secondly. So i believe in life after death and the resurection of Jesus. I agree that action is important but action should arise out of the spiritual. One of the problems besetting british Quakers is that we are in decline but there seem to be yet more jobs in the society to be done. In practice this means that many friends take on too much work because they think its their duty rather than thinking it is a spiritual imperitive.

    • Hi Ken, yes you are right about the implication (I wondered about it myself but ploughed on anyway). I decided that of course there is an After, even if not for me! Personally it just isn’t terribly important as part of my day-to-day existence.
      Also completely with you on the amount of work facing us – our little meeting is struggling as is the wider Area meeting, to find people to take on the basics, let alone get involved in wider community roles. But we all just do our best and need to accept it, as per St Francis of Assisi I suppose – “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

  2. Pingback: Links to other Quaker Alphabet 2014 Blogs | Bill Chadkirk BSc BA

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