At the end of last year, Abbot Hall in Kendal hosted an exhibition of Julie Brooke’s work. Entitled ‘What is it that will last?’, it featured several installations where the viewer was invited to spend time watching films of Brooke’s work, sitting, looking, and listening to huge soundscapes of wind, fire and water. To do so was truly immersive. I felt myself going still—drawn to reflect on the elements, on land and weather, and what it’s like being human and finite in the incomprehensible distances of time and space.

I found myself thinking about loss. The anguish of bereavement and grief—experienced so recently on a global scale—can bring a strange gift of perspective. Sitting by a hospital bed; looking with helpless love through the window of a care home; standing in an empty crematorium saying farewell to a parent, child or lover: there is a deep, excruciating simplicity in these experiences. The superfluities are stripped away. You gain, or regain, a sense of “what really matters”: kindness, connection, truth: love.

Writing of Quaker Meeting for Worship, George Fox invites us to ‘meet together and know one another in that which is eternal, which was before the world was’. Meeting offers us the opportunity to be still and reconnect with ‘that which is eternal’—to reflect on our lives and discern our priorities in light of “what really matters”. Crucially, too, it offers community: in Meeting for Worship you don’t have to do this alone.

Written by Lucy Crispin, Preston Patrick Quaker Meeting

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