The rest of the weekend passed off peaceably in true quakerly fashion with no blows exchanged .
After 24 hours at home in London (the journey home by car took 6 hours in very heavy traffic on the M6/A40), I can reflect a little on what took place.
A ‘google’ search for ‘Glenthorne Experiment with Light’ now finds the following links:
Quakerpedia entry for Epistle from Glenthorne (2004)
http://www.charlieblackfield.com/light/ (one address for the Experiment for light website)
http://www.leedsquakers.org.uk/resources/qw-10-2.pdf (A large pdf of Leeds Quakers’ ‘A Quiet Word’ for April 2010 with an advert for Glenthorne and an article about Experiment with Light from the Quaker Universalists Group with Rex Ambler at Woodbrooke)
and this very blogpage!
Whilst the Experiment with Light Meditation itself has not immediately changed my state of awareness (as far as I am aware!), the weekend as a whole has struck a powerful chord for me with the ‘Gospel of Thomas’ translated and explained by the Quaker Hugh McGregor Ross, who had clearly been writing at Glenthorne himself last year, which I have been reading even today.
At the end of the weekend I bought the three related texts available, two of them by Rex Ambler who originated the ‘Experiment with Light’. That specifically about his experiment, ‘Light to Live By’, is a full explanation of his own experiences and the process itself.
But it was the other book by him, ‘Truth of the Heart – an anthology of George Fox’, which appeared to be the most significant for me. In essence, it seems to me, Ambler is claiming to have re-discovered the process of Fox’s ‘experiment’ by which Fox himself found the ‘living Christ’ within himself and then ‘taught’ to others. A process which McGregor Ross appears to imply, in his explication of ‘Thomas’, Jesus himself went through and taught to his disciples. (Essentially “Be still and know that I am/you are God’?). ‘Truth of the Heart’, in ‘explaining’ Fox in modern terms, is therefore perhaps a book which should be ‘burnt, banned or celebrated’ – take your pick. Whilst Jesus was crucified, Fox was only persecuted but other early Quakers were killed for their heresy.
I feel, for myself, that there is now much to explore and I hope to do some of that here on this blog. But probably I will continue the ‘Experiment’ for myself – first on the ‘agenda’ being my partners’ sick dog which I currently feel so angry about. (The ‘big question’ – ‘why am I here?’ – can wait for a while!).
The house and grounds are in a truly spectacular location and this was highlighted in the early morning snow on Saturday. The photos below certainly don’t convey that very well.
The food was excellent – I’m 4 pounds heavier than last week! – but I wonder if for the purpose of this particular course we should have had a much more basic diet? (Perhaps not just dry bread and water though). There was a great sense of silence and peace in the venue, even when there was noise from the nearby roadworks. I couldn’t really decide whether this silence which I felt I could almost ‘hear’ (the music of the spheres?) was a characteristic of the location and general quiet; a result of the course and meditation; or a problem with my ears! In any event it was both palpable and agreeable.
Possibly my first visit to the Lake District in 51 years (when I was camping with the 4th Seven Kings Sea Scouts just over the hill (Helvelyn!) at Glenridding on Ullswater), I hope I will return much sooner and maybe try and stay at Glenthorne, perhaps on another course?, for a weekend next year – though it is a long way to travel. It is certainly very convenient for Grasmere (10 minutes walk into the village), Ambleside and Windermere. It is obviously very popular with walkers and the very centre of the ‘Wordsworth industry’. Even part of the house (Annexe) was apparently used as a stable by Wordsworth.
As indicated above, the Experiment with Light course and meditation did not immediately change my life but I feel it will have longer term relevance for my continued exploration of Quakerism. It was a very enjoyable weekend and gave new insight into current, past and maybe future Quaker practice. As usual, the other participants and leaders were an interesting bunch with a wide range of interests and differing viewpoints although not too much of this was revealed as the nature of the course was quite demanding with a full timetable. The Saturday evening DIY entertainment (each of us ‘doing a turn’) did reveal a variety of talents and the performance reading of Jackie Kay‘s poem about Ma Bruin (Maw Broon visits a Therapist was particularly memorable.)
(Pictures – see also the previous post below):