The Quaker Spirit
Spirit seems to be one of the favourite words of Quakers, and it seems to crop up everywhere. We have The Spirit, finding the spirit of the meeting (which seems to never justify the capitals of “The Spirit”), and books, bags and merchandise that all seem to find a place for “spirit” and “spirituality”. Some Clerks might even admit to wishing to have strong spirits to hand after a tricky business item.
We also have Christmas spirit to describe good cheer, “the Spirit of Christmas” pictured above in a rather fine robe from A Christmas Carol as the personification of merriment. Places are also described as having their own spirits, the centre of their life and attitude.
The concept of spirit as the essence of things appeals to me, a word to describe something that is potent and at the heart of things. This may be why Quakers are so fond of the word. God and Jesus conjure up ideas of the Sky Father and miraculous teacher, concepts that can, to some, feel too narrow or constricting or maybe just not immediately relevant to what is being sensed by the person in the moment.
It does not however have to be passive; Dickens portrays the Spirits of Christmas as examples and inspirations.
It is for me, therefore, delightfully fuzzy and freeing. The spirit can be found in a cheerful meal or deep thoughts and something that can be brought into being by our actions.