Friday, February 21, 2014
Quaker Alphabet Blog 2014 - D for Duty
For me duty is another word for commitment. My relationship with my widowed mother was often difficult but as her only child I felt a duty to try to look after her. In her last years I cooked a roast lunch for her every Sunday, often staying away from meeting to prepare a meal that I would seldom have cooked from choice. I played endless games of very competitive Scrabble with her and engaged in repetitive and often superficial conversation. I worried about her constantly. I did this because I loved her, but I continued doing it out of duty. Some days were better than others and in the end I felt that my love was returned and a real connection between us was made, but I would never have reached that position without the promptings of duty.
Although it does not use the word, the 10th section of Advices and Queries is also about duty. It advises us to 'Come regularly to meeting for worship even when you are angry, depressed, tired or spiritually cold.' Yearly Meeting in London in 1765 had the same message for Friends. 'Shall a cloudy sky, a little wet, a little cold, a little ease to the flesh, a view to a little earthly gain, or any common incident, furnish an excuse for declining this duty, and thereby depriving ourselves of the blessed advantage, often vouchsafed to the faithful, of enjoying heavenly communion together in spirit with the Lord of life and glory?' [Quaker Faith and Practice 2.43] It is true that not every meeting for worship we attend will leave us spiritually refreshed but duty and commitment will give us the opportunity to be there when it does.
Writing this blog is a commitment which sometimes feels like a very onerous duty but I am glad that I have duty to keep me going as well as enjoyment for myself and, I hope, for my readers.