Continuing the Conversation

A conversation was begun in the May issue of What Canst Thou Say around a submission from William Shetter, A Milestone Birthday, his thoughts about his ninieth birthday. Here is the continuation of the conversation and one response. We encourage Friends to continue the conversation continue the conversation by commenting to this post.

February 15-16, 2018
Two quotes from William Shetter’s answers published in the WCTS print edition caught Guest Editor Rhonda Ashurst’s attention:
“I’ve come to feel that like each of us have one life that is composed of two dimensions, one in time and the other untouched by time.
“Living in these two inescapable dimensions, time and timelessness, sets up the enormously creative tension we call “our journey”—our human adventure of discernment and discovery.” —William Shetter
Rhonda: At this stage in your life, do you have a sense of your timeless Self returning again into time and the physical body to create another human adventure?
William: No, I’ve never had any sense other than a single dependable ‘me’.
Rhonda: Do all our adventures “in time” really happen at once?
William: For me, just the opposite. That’s the part of my life that is “strung out,” giving me the sense of time in the first place. My challenging quest is for that hard-to-reach timeless part of me, not part of my everyday experience.
Rhonda: Is there some kind of progression, or is that only a human illusion? Or, perhaps it is a both/and? It is all happening in the now, and there is a progression…
William: The hesitant nature of these questions somehow signals that you’re as much baffled as everyone (at least since St. Augustine including me) is who has ever tried to understand what TIME is! …

by Jessica S.

A strong image of color came immediately to mind when I read the opening lines “the day is past and gone / the evening shades appear …”. Instead of grays and black representing the foreshortened time ahead, I found myself thinking of rich shades of blue and violet and purple. Yes, they ultimately shade into black, but before they do they are vivid and bursting with richness and unexpected beauty. I encountered these colors again when William Shetter asks “shall I endow these evening shades with a deeper, newly richer, vibrant life …?” His clear answer is “yes”, reaffirming that the evening shades are indeed saturated with intense color before they fade to black – if we strive to peer beyond.

3 thoughts on “Continuing the Conversation

  1. What beautiful imagery! Just yesterday, in silent worship, I saw vivid hues of purple and violet in my mind’s eye. I’ve always thought of these as the colors of the spirit. What if as the earthly life fades, we enter a deeper, richer, more vibrant life, bursting with richness and unexpected beauty?

  2. Blue and violet and purple – “colors of the spirit”. Absolutely. I wonder if we can extend that fruitful metaphor a little and think of the colors of the timeless wisdom we have been searching for the whole journey? As we strive for this wisdom (“that pervades and permeates all things”) those colors do become more and more intense, don’t they?
    And in the final letting go, those evening colors “fade” into black at the same moment that “the Light shines unobstructed”! Who will step forward and resolve this mystery?

  3. One of my favorite sentences in William Shetter’s “A Milestone Birthday” is when he wrote: “‘Silence’ here refers (wouldn’t you agree?) not to absence of sound but to a whole new higher-order sensing.” This higher-order sensing, which I’ve also felt at times, is difficult to put into words. Bill refers to finding the most deeply buried center of himself–the place where hidden secrets of his life can be found. This is such a poetic way to write about coming aware of less conscious thoughts and patterns. I am pretty sure that Bill means more than patterns that we’ve repressed by the word “secrets.” Instead, I’m guessing he is referring to secrets of all types–hidden gifts, hidden intuitions, hidden visions of how his world might unfold. At any point in life we can use silence during Meetings for Worship an an opening for this “higher-order sensing,” and, if we’re lucky, we’ll be able to find a way to then capture this sensing in words.

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