Monday, April 20, 2015

Sweeping the Parlor in hopes of a Visit

Yesterday my friends Larry & Ellie posted on a part of John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" (a book I've never read, but not for lack of trying), and showed William Blake's illustration of the servant trying to sweep out a long-unused room - a parlor - representing the human heart in need of the Presence of God / enlightenment (I'm loosely paraphrasing).

The sweeping stirs up a lot of dust, so much that poor Christian chokes and presumably can't see a thing, let alone receive a Visitor.

I can't get this image out of my mind:  people (especially of course myself) in need of the Light, the Presence, sweeping and sweeping and choking and choking.

In Bunyan the dust is sin and the sweeping is trying to adhere to the Law.  I gather that Blake wasn't on the same page with Bunyan on many things, but I'm pretty sure he would have agreed that trying to sweep up sin wouldn't likely help a person's spiritual state.

One thing that Quaker Meeting for Worship does for me, is at least let the dust swirling around in my busy-busy mind and heart, to settle and be still and perhaps the divine Visitor might tiptoe in despite my messy ways....

I also pray for the woman with the bowl of water to come and sprinkle me, and the room, of course... but right now I'm just so aware of how I/we stir up the dust...

Saith the LORD God:
I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you....  Ezek 36:25-27a (KJV)

Early Friends were clear that Christians ought not be proud or think they/we are free of sin, for Jesus came to sinners, not the righteous.  So I hold out hope that my dusty Parlor might be graced with a Visit....

Saith Jesus:
They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.  I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.  Luke 5:31-32 (KJV)

Grace and peace of the Lord to all who read this!

Susan J.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Knock Knock

Who’s There?

We started the blog about seven months ago, and we have learned a few things from the experience. Probably the most salient is, maintaining a blog is not easy. The three of us figured we could write one piece each every month, and maybe more. Well, that has not been the case. Life tends to get in the way of the best of intentions -- holidays, illnesses, family trips, projects. Sometimes you need to do a little research, only to find you have dropped into a deep, deep hole.

Finding or picking a topic can be problem as well. Sometimes you get an idea that seems fruitful, but as time passes, it loses its luster and fades away.

The sheer audacity of deciding to blog can be an obstacle as well, the idea that you have something to say that your friends and others are going to read. It is not like any of us have any great stature to justify the venture. On the other hand, it is another way to stretch your spiritual sense. The pacifism pieces I wrote led me to some writings and biographical sketches I may not have read otherwise. I was rather surprised at my conclusion.

Visitor map, scaled (sort of)
We were thinking our audience would come from our home area of Charleston. It was a real surprise to see the geographical range that emerged. As we expected, the Charleston area accounts for the largest slice of our audience. Over half of the new users in West Virginia are in our home metropolitan area. The second largest in WV is the city of Huntington.

Now, this is intriguing:  Huntington is the second largest city in our state, and the home of Marshall University, but it does not have a Friends meeting. No other area of the state comes close to Huntington's count. So, who are the people in Huntington? Maybe they could get together sometime? We would be happy to intermediate.

The national extent of our audience is another surprise. In the US, 82 visitors, half of the national count, come from about 30 states. About a quarter are drive-bys, and about a quarter come from our border states.

Only one or two have visited us from Russia,
China, India, and Canada, not like the map shows
Internationally, we have had visitors from 22 countries. Again, most are only making 1 visit. The remarkable exception is Russia, where users have visited the blog 60 times, nearly all from Moscow. This presents something of a mystery. The analytical tool does not pick up any ISP, so the number of  users is zero, but we've had 56 visits from Moscow. I know there is a Friends meeting there, a small one, but it would be interesting to know who is visiting from Moscow.