We weren’t able to be at this year’s Britain Yearly Meeting, so we missed hearing Gerald Hewitson give the 2013 Swarthmore Lecture. For those of you who also were prevented from being there, you can download .pdf and .docx text versions of the Lecture here, and order nicely produced print and e-book copies here; but if you’ve an hour or so to spare, I would really recommend listening to Gerald give the lecture himself.
Journey into Life is one of the most moving accounts of the Quaker life I know. I was going to write more of my own personal reflections on Gerald’s journey, but somehow that doesn’t feel like the right thing to do here. There is too much in this Lecture to risk spoiling the taste, as it were, with my own dressings – so I’ll confine myself to reproducing here the excellent blurb on the Quaker Centre Bookshop page:
“In seeking to understand the words of early Friends, it seemed as if I was following a thread in a labyrinth. As I penetrated deeper more seemed to be revealed – a book, a conversation, an insight, a revelation – and a Way opened.”
The stories of Quakers, past and present, as individuals and as communities, are important. They can reveal a truth that is beyond words, can guide and inspire us. In this powerful and often challenging book, Gerald Hewitson weaves his own story – from his humbling upbringing to his coming into being as a convinced Quaker – into the context of the Quaker tradition. Punctuated by the words of early Friends, Journey into life explores how the stories and texts of Quakers in the past can offer a vision of how to transform and invigorate our Quakerism now; by examining the faith, politics and metaphors of Quaker heritage, the author shows how understanding the spiritual awareness of early Friends opens us to a new conviction and truth in the present.
Originally from South Yorkshire, Gerald found Quakers in the late 1970s and is one of two founder members of now flourishing Holyhead Meeting. He has served the Society in a number of ways, most recently with his wife Gwyneth as Resident Friend at Pendle Hill Quaker Center, Philadelphia, in autumn 2011.