We happened to be in the parking lot of the pet store (of all the mundane details to remember!) when my wife and I realized that we had arrived together at the decision to try to start a family. We considered so many things: What did it mean to be ready for such a thing? What would it mean for our lifestyle to bring another mouth into our household economy? Was it ethical to bring a child into a world where so much is wrong, where many of us fear a careening climate will render our earth uninhabitable or, at the very least, starkly changed from the earth we now recognize? What will our cats think of a baby?
It won’t surprise you to hear that, at least for me, the questions continued long after that decision. In the seven years or so since then, I have learned so much about reproductive biology, about sharing, about money, about purpose, and about myself in relation to the other humans on this planet. What new dimensions of love I would experience embarking on the journey of parenthood! And how crisply my sense of responsibility did come into focus, both to my family and to the world—into which I am helping to raise two sons as loving, responsible, joyful, and conscientious human beings. In all of this, it was not lost on me that carrying a child to term involves an unimaginable amount of sacrifice by the mother of that child. As I invested myself wholly in the new family that we were becoming, I felt a difference in how I considered and talked about the topic of abortion. As a man, I would never face the prospect of an unwanted or problematic pregnancy in my own body, but as an engaged partner in life’s holy process, I could sense more viscerally than before the searing edges of the arguments that constitute our discourse on the subject of reproductive rights.
The articles and poems we share with our readers in this issue tease out important and heartfelt perspectives on reproduction by Friends with deep personal, political, and ethical concerns. I recommend them to you and invite your reactions and commentary for the Forum.
Let’s Grow Together
Why do you read Friends Journal? Do you read it with an openness to growth? With a desire to live in greater harmony with Spirit? With an awareness that adding purpose to our existence depends on knowing one another more deeply? I hope so. Because of this hope, I am so proud to introduce something new to Friends Journal. In the center spread of this issue (pp. 26–27), you’ll find a new feature. In the months to come, we will introduce you to faces and stories from Quakerism’s growing edges. Many have said (and I have been among them) that in much of the Quaker world, our meetings are decreasing in numbers and in vitality. But such bottom-line figures obscure the essential vitality that is blossoming in the hearts and communities of Friends everywhere. At Friends Journal, we recognize our responsibility to uplift and celebrate what is new, what is growing, and how we Friends are gathering together. We offer this to you in a spirit of shared destiny because, dear reader, we are all Quakers. Let’s grow together.
1 thought on “Among Friends: On Decisions, Responsibilities, and Growth”
We live near a rural stream, and take our water from that stream. Sometimes autumn leaves block the stream for a while, and we work with or neighbors to clean out the channel. Sometimes a disgruntled neighbor throws a boulder into the stream so that for the water flows illegally into his property, and then we have to restore the stream into its proper channel. In winter, we have to check that ice hasn’t caused the stream to back up and overflow down the hillside. But I don’t worry any more about Quaker numbers declining. The living water that Jesus spoke of is always available if we thirst for it.
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