This blog features reflections on current affairs through the lens of my Quaker faith and practice and offers not only analysis but a perspective on hope, renewal, and reconciliation - a “lift”, as I call it - during these stressful, chaotic times.
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I recently opened a Zoom cast by spontaneously asking, “How are you all faring ?” I don’t often use the word, and it took me by a bit of surprise when I said it. But it turned out my question was a good way to open a conversation because it invited a opportunity to access where each of us was on our life's journey these days.
It turns out the word faring has an interesting range of meanings. In my opening question I was hinting at the most common usage which is “to move along a course,” and I think of seafarers or wayfarers who probably have a pretty clear idea where they are heading, but who have a certain amount of unpredictable adventure involved in their journey as well.
At best we can experience this historical era, in both our personal and planetary lives, as an interesting and exciting time to be intrepid wayfaring explorers. It’s very possible to be excited about wayfaring in an uncharted, fascinating, perilous and rapidly changing world of technology and planetary survival. And I think most of us may have days, or parts of a day, when we truly enjoy the wonderment of life full of innovation as well as holding on to our more familiar values and practices.
But our more dominant consciousness is more likely to be our growing anxiety about where our wayfaring is taking us: What is the destination? Are we on the right track? Will we arrive safely? And when there is so much flux in life we find ourselves as seafarers unable to read the “stars" for direction and assurance because of all that is obscure, uncertain, and unpredictable.
Which leads to another definition of “faring” related to coping. "How are you faring?” thus asks “How are you carrying on, surviving, getting by when things are difficult and threatening?" I think this definition more aptly describes our feelings and fears these days. Even though individually we may be faring well, we are also of poignantly aware of all those throughout the world for whom the virus and the economic and political turbulence has meant serious disruption of their lives, including terrible sickness and death.
And a final use of the word “fare” suggests a qualitative or quantitative meaning as in “bus fare” or a description of food as in a reference to “cafeteria fare,” or in economic welfare. So when we might ask “How are you faring?” we are actually asking about someone's level of personal fulfillment or struggle in the living of their days.
Ultimately, however, “How are you faring?” is an expression of relationship, of curiosity and care about each other's life journeys. When I ask “How are you faring?” I am saying I would genuinely like to know how you are experiencing life in these often difficult and lonely times, and I would like to share how my life is going/faring as well. Together we can receive consolation, support and an opportunity to try to make some sense of all that is so confusing and frightening, as well as all that inspires and gives us joy.
So I must end with the blessing of...
Fare thee well, friends,
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