There's an old man in my Meeting who shines with Light. He has gotten very frail in the past year, but he attends Meeting regularly. The past month or so, he rises to speak every First Day.
His words don't usually sound like ministry, but his face glows with the ministry he lives. He doesn't talk about God. He talks about children and war and beauty and music and senseless death. His heart is full of love for the Meeting. Sometimes, I get the sense that he rises because he cannot contain his joy at being among Friends.
He stands in the larger world, too. He stands every week on a street corner as a witness against war. Sometimes he carries a sign with information about children who have died in war. Sometimes he carries a sign with photos of all the American servicemen killed in Iraq.
When he struggled to his feet this morning, I thought about the kind of Quaker that this Friend is. He doesn't quote the Bible or talk about God. He doesn't debate the finer points of Quakerism or argue about the color of the carpet. He speaks simply and with great love even when he is telling us things we'd rather not hear.
He is not, perhaps, the sort of Quaker that some people want in their Meetinghouse, but I am very glad that he is in ours. In his simple, straightforward way, he shows me more about the teachings of Jesus than any dozen Biblical or Quaker scholars. His heart is big enough to contain the joy of a child's smile and the pain of global conflict.
Every time this Friend rises, I am filled with joy and sorrow. I feel fortunate to see his life bear witness to the great beauty and the great evil in the world.