Virginia Beach Friends Meeting

October Newsletter

Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business

Minutes from our October business meeting are posted at this link…

Highlights include:

  • School Committee is excited to announce that Dr. Michael Barclay has been appointed as the next head of School and will be beginning July 1, 2018.
  • The Coastal Friends Gathering will be hosted at Virginia Beach Friends Meeting on November 4, 11 am worship followed by potluck.
  • Young Friends sessions this Fall:
    • November 5
    • November 19
    • December 3
    • December 17
  • All are encouraged to help with First Day Hospitality!
  • Wedding Bells at Virginia Beach Friends Meeting in 2017?
  • Richard Taylor and DaShaunda Hilliard have announced their intention to marry under the care of the Meeting on 12/30.
  • A clearness committee will be reporting to our Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business in November. All are encoaraged to attend.


On October 21 we lost long time attender Carmine "Tony" Ruffa after a long battle with cancer. Tony came to Meeting after enrolling his son Louis in Friends School. Several Meeting members and Friends School alumni attended his memorial in Tappahannock.

Click here for Tony's obituary...

Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act for 2018 runs from November 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017. See for details...

Our friend and Minister, Paula Virginia Lippard Justice, passed away peacefully on the morning of October 4th, 2017.

Click here to view Paula's obituary...

A memorial service to celebrate Paula's life was held under the care of the Meeting on October 28th at 2 pm.

This edition of our VBFM Newsletter is dedicated in memory of Paula.


swifly flow the years
paula lives in the sunrise
sunset brings the tears.

- Bob Young

Limited selections from the longer Introduction to TENDER WITNESS: A Journal of Conversion by Paula Justice, read at her memorial service by her daughter Laley Lippard...

Gleanings From Paula Justice’s Spiritual Journey, by Tom Bertrand...

Paula Justice - In Memoriam, by Mary Pelham White...

Below is the cover picture of Paula's book, Tender Witness, and poems from the book selected by Laley. Also below are pictures of some of Paula's artwork:


Begin by closing your eyes, and when you see into the darkness,
it is late Carolina summer when the nights are heavy and warm
and full of cricket song.
The soft laughter of women carries from the yard
into the old house
and drifts up the stairs
where we are crouched in white gowns at the window
listening to the sounds that come from the night
and from our mothers.

We have been here before in our grandmother’s house,
children asleep on quilt pallets
dreaming of our lives and of our mothers’ faces.
But tonight we are not yet born
and they are very young, our mothers,
barely more than girls suspended for a moment
in a summer cocoon of darkness
before they are released into another story, the one we live in,
the story that rises and falls into cancer and grief and madness.

But this is only a beginning
as if a wheel were spinning so fast it seems to stand still
and everyone is waiting for something to happen
for someone to love her and name her and place her,
but nothing happens
they go on murmuring into the warm night.
We cannot hear what they are saying
but are blessed by their voices.

We long to creep down the stairs into the yard,
to have them reach for us, lifting, curling us in their arms,
wrapping us in the murmuring voices
the lullaby of their laughter.
But then they would be our mothers,
the wheel would stop
and they would be propelled out of their envelope of night
into the falling story
the one we have lived.

Perhaps in our leaving, we can slip into the darkness
guided by their soft silver faces
by eyes brighter than the moon,
and trail our real fingers along their pale smooth arms.
They will imagine a breeze has touched them
stirring memories yet unborn
but we must not speak to them in passing
for they would turn to us and be lost
and this warm night of sounds
of our mothers’ young laughter borne through heavy darkness
would be lost forever.


I have been blessed with the words
of old men speaking in Meeting
their voices creaking and swaying
like empty old houses filled with the winds of God.
Shaman voices
rattling in the silence, conjuring the Spirit
their skinny fingers, trembling and bent
pointing the direction of God
and reaching
reaching across abysses of incident and room
to lift me into that high holy wind.


A warrior thick and sturdy
as the stump
on which hardwood is split
inhabits me.
Grounded low and formidable
she is not easily moved.
Careful war and iron loyalty
drum in her blood.
Her sword renders
a sharp truth.

A warrior’s love is strong as steel
cruel as teeth.
So mothered, I grew feral
wary of touch, careful of lures.
She taught me to read the tracings of an enemy
to smell the predator before he springs
to prey upon.
I wear her rough skin like the coat
of some wild creature.
Is it surprising that I bite?

I never question her courage.
She has done battle for me
on a thousand affronts.
As she has guarded me all my life,
so have I honored her fierce isolation.
Her hands are clumsy with teacups of tenderness,
if you would woo her
bring her fire!

A warrior’s choice is a fine death
one last weary struggle
then a burning boat drifting
into deeper waters.

Yet I would teach her how to live –
make her a Masai of the heart
stalk her with mercy
garland her with tears
‘til this lion of Judah
lies down a lamb of god.


This winter I’ll fly south.
When the afternoons turn grey
and the sun sets at five
I’ll leave this nest without regret
and gather on the high wires.

When one more summer is entombed
in dry brown shroud,
I’ll lend my form to the patterned creature
that dips and sweeps the sky
careening after light.
The long flight will cleanse me of the years
memory blown barren by the endless wind.
Wings moving as one.
Weariness, one weariness
Song, one song
One feathered heart longing
for the certainty of sun.

And if the arrival is ordinary
the destination plain and still
No matter.
I need the going.
The journey may be enough
to nurture hope
that gathering of twig and string
will weave a home again.


This world of bright and bounce and laugh
of red and gold and patch
of round young eyes and brief surprise
is mine.


Things that shed their skin
Snakes, blue crabs, sunburned girls
Cicadas, all sorts sea-shelled creatures and me.
One day I'll slip this soft and wrinkly skin
drop it like a tired coat and just left off
some balloon, at first slightly deflated
then expanding as I rise
translucent, filled with light
barely recognizable, bound for the stars.
My form will change, sharp outlines disappear
luminous inside, my light will spill its boundaries like water
seeping through, I will begin to flow into everything.
I will become the rain, return to earth and sea
and rise as air.
A thousand thousand years and
I will be at last a comet's fire, spending myself across the heavens,
a perfect light
and I will feed a thousand thousand green and growing things
who push out of the earth.

Quick Links

Next Meeting for Business Query - #4 / Work of the Meeting:

Do we assume our rightful share in the expenses of our Meeting? Do we regard our time, our talents, and our possessions as given us in trust, and do we use them freely for the needs of others?

Dear Friends:
As previously reported, our Newsletter format is evolving.
We welcome your feedback.
Please respond to with suggestions for improvements.

Thank you,
VBFM Communications committee


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Updated: Monthly