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INSPIRATION: Quakers and Nature

Quakers have a long tradition of caring for nature and the earth. Many Quakers find deeper connection when they are out in nature than they do when they are indoors.  mtk


Horace Pippini's painting Holy Mountain III

The Earth is the Lord's and the fullness of it,
The world, and those who dwell in it.   Psalm 24:1

1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.  4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.  5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.  6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.7 And God made the firmament,

and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament:

and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning

were the second day.9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together

unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas:

and God saw that it was good.  11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass,

the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself,

upon the earth: and it was so.  12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding

seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind:

and God saw that it was good.  13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night;

and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth:

and it was so.  16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day,

and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness:

and God saw that it was good.  19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life,

and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters

brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind:

and God saw that it was good.  22 And God blessed them, saying,

Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. 

23 And the evening and the morning

were the fifth day.  24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature

after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind,

and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them

have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air,

and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him;

male and female created he them.  28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them,

Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it:

and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air,

and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon

the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed;

to you it shall be for meat.  30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air,

and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life,

I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.

And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.  (Genesis 1:1-31)
We do not own the earth.Walk gently upon it, so that future generations may do the same.
The best reflections are there when the wind, water, and you are quite still.
Walk cheerfully and gently over the earth answering to that of God in everyone and everything.
~ George Fox
Friends of Silence website. 




Originally one of Edward Hicks famous "Peaceable Kingdom" paintings.  ( was chosen for the introductory art above.  However, an article on FGC's website  ( ) points out that most Quaker art is seen through a white lens.  That thought opened up the opportunity for Horace Pippini's painting "Holy Mountain III" to be featured above.  


"Holy Mountain III" by Horace Pippini


"Peaceable Kingdom" by Edward Hicks.


Humboldt County Coastline


By the Brook by Dorothy Henkel (1886-1983)

As I sat by the brook one sweet summer day,

    As it flowed so rapidly by

Right down to the sea so far away,

     under the clear blue sky,

I saw that it dashed its dainty spray

    All over the blossoms and flowers,

And a thought cam into my head that day,

   As I lazily passed the hours.

"Does not the brook resemble us,

    "As it runs away to the sea,

"All over the stones and ferns and flowers?"

     This thought then came to me.

"The stones are ou cares, its course our life,

     "The spray is what we do good,

"The foam is our quarrels, and disputes, and strife

    "As the brook runs away through the wood.

"And the ocean deep is our Heaven at last!"

    And into the water I look

And I thought of the Heaven life is past,

    As I sat that day by the brook!


JOHN WOOLMAN: Our Gracious Creator cares and provides for all his creatures. His tender mercies are over all his works, and as far as his love influences our minds, so far we become interested in his workmanship and feel a desire to take hold of every opportunity to lessen the distresses of the afflicted and increase the happiness of the creation. Here we have the prospect of one common interest. . . to turn all that we possess into the channel of universal love becomes the business of our lives. John Woolman (1720-1772) , "A Plea for the Poor or A Word of Remembrance and Caution to the Rich"

WILLIAM PENN: I would go a great way to caution and direct people in their Use of the World, that they were better studies and known in the Creation of it. For how could Man [kind] find the Confidence to abuse it, while they should see the great creator stare them in the Face, in all and every Part thereof? William Penn. Some Fruits of Solitude (1692)

HARVEY GILLMAN: [The] interest some [18th century ]Friends showed in the social conditions of their day was matched by the fascination of other Friends for the natural world. If helping other people was a sign of the Christian life, the exploration of nature was a sign of appreciation of a divinely inspired universe and the Quaker contribution was considerable. Harvey Gillman quoted in From Revelation to Resource: The Natural World in the thought and experience of Quakers in Britain and Ireland 1687 to 1830 by Geoffrey Peter Morries. British Quaker. Unpublished Ph.D thesis for the University of Birmingham. 2009 p24. For George Fox and other early Quakers, the natural world had a significant place in their experience of spiritual convincement. They believed that true knowledge of the creation and how it should be used, came, like their knowledge of God, by revelation through the divine inward light. . . People had practical responsibilities for their behaviour to one another and for their treatment of animals, and in some respects, for the utilization of the natural world for the benefit of humanity and to the glory of God. ibid , 25-26. Something akin to the biblical concept of ‘wilderness’ (142) figured in several early Friends’ descriptions of their personal search for God. Mary Penington related how she grew sick of worldly pleasures, and would instead retire for periods ‘into the country’, where, having gone ‘out from the company into a field’, she ultimately experienced a direct revelation of God.(143). Francis Howgill recalled his discontent of orthodox Christian teaching, and sought solace in silent and solitary contemplation ‘at home and in desert places’ until ‘something spoke within me from the Lord’. (144) Fox, too, related how, as a young man, he avoided church services but would ‘get into the orchard or the fields’, (145) and to other ‘lonesome places’ in his search for spiritual fulfillment. This he did not find at this stage, but recognised with hindsight that these early experiences were part of the ‘first workings’ of the divine spirit within him: ibid, 142-145 James Nayler condemned bull-baiting because it was ‘setting one of the creatures of God against another to torment’. (285) For these Quakers at least, concern about the treatment of animals went further than the condemnation of worldly pleasures. Leo Damrosch argues that Nayler’s position can be contrasted to that of the Puritans, whose well-known objection to bear-baiting was not on the grounds that it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators. (286) ibid, 285-288.

THEODORE BENFEY: The prevailing judgment that music, art and drama were wicked since they let loose the emotions, and that they were unworthy of the time and attention of the God-centered man, left little room for relaxation and the exercise of feeling outside the realm of prayer and church assemblies. Friends were in fact advised by William Penn to find their recreation in nature. "Friends and the World of Nature" Theodor Benfey Pendle Hill Pamphlet 233 p. 11 "What we need is a rebirth of love to matter, becoming friends with the rocks, heeding Emerson's call." ibid. p.28

JOANNA MACY: “What do you envision for the future?” Joanna Macy—Buddhist eco-philosopher, scholar of deep ecology and systems theory—asked me last night . . .“Well, we’ve got about 10 years to turn this thing around,” I said. She nodded. “Under the surface, there’s a lot of good things happening. But even so, it is not looking good.” She nodded again. “I see violence,” she said. “When the transportation fails, the food lines shut down, and there won’t be more than a few days before the stores are empty. And then there will be violence.” Sara Jolena Wolcott's conversation with Joanna Macy. "An Easter Reflection with Joanna Macy". Quaker EarthCare Witness. (2019)

JUDITH BROWN: When I steward the earth, I believe I am caring for God's body." God's Spirit in Nature by Judith Brown Pendle Hill Pamphlet 336. p.5

MARCEL MARTIN: The root of all of our social and planetary problems lies in our disconnection from our true nature, from the Earth, and from our divine source. "Healing the Disconnect" lecture by Marcelle Martin, May 3, 2021. Pendle Hill:

MARY CONROW COELHO: To adequately address the climate crisis, we must not only do the essential work of remedying the damage to the natural world, preventing further degradation, but we must also address the spiritual crisis in the West. Western science’s earlier objectification of matter has been one of the underlying reasons for nearly unbridled destruction. It has diminished our felt, soulful connection with the earth, bringing a costly narrowing of our consciousness. Mary Conrow Coelho Quaker Earthcare Witness The witness of QEW will be greatly strengthened as we enter into and teach the wisdom within our transformed worldview. We must urgently speak Friends’ truth within these changes as they carry the hope that there can be fundamental change in consciousness as we know ourselves as sacred beings within a sacred Earth. We can speak to the spiritual longings of people that—together with the natural world—find a remarkable spiritual identity as a sacred whole. ibid

FCNL: The earth is sacred; it is home. Inspired by Friends’ testimonies and our love for the earth, we seek an earth restored. Friends Committee for National Legislation, "The World We Seek: Statement of Legislative Policy "

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Quaker Earthcare Witness "Earthcare for Friends". A study guide for Individuals and Faith Communities.

QUAKER EARTHCARE WITNESS: List of Articles from Befriending Creations, QEW's quarterly newsletter.

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