This book makes available many of the letters of John Woolman and offers Drew Lawson’s reflections on themes arising from Woolman’s letters in the light of Lawson’s own experience of the spiritual journey. The book investigates the following themes: the love of God, brokenness, abandonment to God, being led through God’s love, crucifixion (paying the price of faithfulness), and resurrection. Woolman’s words describe the eternal in ordinary events and resonate across time.
All of Woolman’s writings — journal, pamphlets, and letters — issued from a life lived deeply within the culture of the Religious Society of Friends in the eighteenth-century Atlantic colonies. This was a culture steeped in the Christian tradition, in Scripture, in a life lived within a faith community, and in a deep understanding of Quaker ways and what it meant to be a Quaker.
Woolman was committed to the life of his faith community. He was immersed in the sacred texts of the Bible and in the young, one-hundred-year-old tradition of the Religious Society of Friends. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Woolman helped give his inheritance new life and an original expression, and that is why his writings are still of great interest to Friends and the wider Christian community.
Woolman’s letters raise questions on how we listen to a voice from the past, a voice steeped in the love of God. How do we interpret words written from the Silence?
We are invited to make the love of God our rock, the foundation of our existence. The love of God elicits responses from us, responses that are not laid upon us but are in fact our heartfelt desires that are brought to the surface. For we do know, in our soul, what is life-giving for us.
Receiving the love of God elicits our love for God and for all of God’s creation. Surfacing from ourselves, we acknowledge our brokenness, our compulsions, and our inner falsities. At this point, healing begins and leads to a desire to follow wherever God leads, at whatever cost. And we are invited to live in hope.
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