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The Bus Comes

Acting in Faith  |  By Madeline Schaefer, Feb 14, 2014

An old bus.

Photo: Creative Commons / Daniel Jurena

This month, Acting in Faith will be featuring excerpts from the book, "Black Fire: African American Quakers on Spirituality and Human Rights," published in 2011 by Friends General Conference.  A collection of writings from African American Quakers throughout American history, the book is insightful, inspiring and challenging.

Our first post is a poem by Helen Morgan Brooks (1904-1989), a Quaker and a poet from the Philadelphia region.  Brooks was born in Reading, Pennsylvania and worked as a dietician and educator throughout her adult life.  At the age of 52 she became a member of Arch Street meeting in Philadelphia, and served on several boards and committees of local Friends organizations, including Pendle Hill and Friends Journal.

Daisies by David-O on Flickr Creative Commons

As the editor of Brooks writing in "Black Fire," Anne Nash writes in her introduction: “Helen Morgan Brooks wrote with emotion and from her experience…the poems that have been chosen for this anthology reflect the depth of her concern for the spirit and with human rights.” - Madeline

The Bus Comes

By Helen Morgan Brooks

There must be loving remaining.
I believe in love
In spite of things said
And deeds done or hate.
There must be love
In the space of things--
Worlds turning and fixed Stars burning.

Love does remain.
It is deep in a child’s eye in wonder at a pink ribbon,
water falling,
a china cup, a gold ring,
a healing kiss on the forehead.

Children know love
and flowers.

Love keeps the Michelmas Daisies
blooming beside the gas station door,
in spite of dust
and the oil splashed sidewalk.

Love is the fragrance
that lingers around the altar rail,
After the lilies and the carnations
have been taken out
to lie beside the new coffin.

Love lives and is vital
in the mien of those
who sit on facing benches
in quiet meeting houses,
Praying in silence,
in strong silence,
that reaches out and embraces
all gypsying thoughts
and gathers them in
to be blessed.

Love is the promise,
“I will not leave you comfortless.”
Comfortless in a deep shadowed crevice,
deprived of the newness of morning,
The arch of noon,
The purpose royal,
Surrounding the pin oaks at evening.

I must believe in love
As a testimony against madness
and war and broken promises.
I choose love.

The bus comes,
The train leaves on schedule
And love, arriving or departing,
remembers me

About the Author

Madeline is the Friends Relations Associate. She grew up in the beautiful Radnor Meeting community outside of Philadelphia, and attended Friends Schools in the area until the end of High School.  After several years of studying and traveling, she returned to Philadelphia only to immerse herself once again in the stories, the culture and the spirituality of Philadelphia Quakers.  While living in collective house in West Philadelphia, she grew curious about the history of young Quaker activists in the neighborhood, and started an oral history project to find out more.  Madeline is interested in exploring the ways in which life in community can stretch our capacity for compassion and growth.  Her dream is to create more alternative communities of people learning how to live together, creating models for a society fueled by cooperation and love.

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About Friends Relations

Lucy Duncan and Greg Elliott work together and with other AFSC staff to foster strong relationships between AFSC and Quakers.

Lucy is AFSC’s Director of Friends Relations. She has been a storyteller for 20 years and has worked with Quaker meetings on telling stories for racial justice and of spiritual experience. She attends Green Street Friends Meeting (PhYM) and lives with her son and partner in a Quaker cemetery.

Greg is the Friends Relations Associate. He grew attending North Branch Monthly Meeting in the Poconos of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Greg currently lives in the Germantown section of Philadelphia.