Virginia Beach Friends Meeting

April Newsletter

Dear Friends:

Thank you for all who contributed.

Please respond to with ideas for future Newsletter Articles and suggestions for improvements.

Thank you,
VBFM Communications committee


Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business

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

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Faith and Practice Review

The Faith and Practice committee sponsored a Meeting for Eating in April to provide feedback regarding the Yearly Meeting's newly drafted version of The Doctrines and Testimony section of our Faith and Practice.

Dave French led the discussion.

Dave reported that twenty three Friends met on 4/15 to share their basic beliefs and understandings about what unites us as Friends and is at the core of our beliefs. Below are notes Dave took from the meeting. Dave reported that, "if you were not there, the notes might only give a hint about the deep sharing that took place".

Pictures from the day are below Dave's notes.

  • Core beliefs / doctrines
  • The Christian story as told in Bible
  • All life / the entire world is divine
  • God IS
  • See / answer that of God in everyone
  • We find the Christ everywhere
  • Holy Spirit (Trinity) lives in and thru me
  • Listening in the sacred SILENCE. Make a commitment to and honor the silence
  • If I listen, I will find the Truth
  • We connect with each other thru the silence and the divine
  • Inclusiveness and acceptance / respect
  • Practice kindness and caring
  • Love and service
  • Sometimes our words aren't adequate to express our beliefs
  • There is God in every person
  • There is God in all creation
  • Quakers are Broad / diverse but inclusive with a Christian core
  • I'm on a spiritual journey – that is OK
  • We meet at Meeting
  • I know God speaks to me
  • Our spiritual life and practices lead to our growth
  • Equality
  • We need each other to share and grow
  • We have a personal and collective relationship with God
  • Waiting worship lets me find God and truth and how to live
  • Communal silence
  • Need to work at finding valuable silence
  • Faith without works is dead
  • Continuing revelation
  • Being present
  • I'm not focusing on "after life, etc."

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Inner Light Yoga

April Mitchell is a Certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT) and an ERYT-500. She has a private practice, teaching individuals and groups. She is trained in yin and restorative yoga, Ayurveda, fascial anatomy, and postural biomechanics. April believes it is profound work to discover our own habits and patterns in a compassionate way in order to unravel them, moving toward Wholeness. Her greatest passion and purpose is to teach and share methods which promote good health, awareness, empowerment, healing, connection and calm abiding.

In this month's Newsletter April begins a series, Inner Light Yoga.

For printing, the PDF version of this article can be accessed by clicking here...

Outer Body~Inner Light I

Have you heard we have a newly-discovered organ? It’s our largest one and it’s called the interstitium. But let me back up and explain this exciting new discovery that may evolve Consciousness.

Fascia is our connective tissue. It is ubiquitous in the body and is one of our three whole-body communication systems, the other two being the nervous system and the circulatory system. Ida Rolf called the fascia our “organ of form,” and it surrounds all of our 70-100 trillion cells, forming, connecting, and supporting our bodies. It communicates through the body at the speed of sound (720 mph)- 3 times faster than that of our nervous system!

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity imagined our universe as a fabric (see fig. 1). Now take that image and shrink it down to fit inside our bodies. I like to describe our fascia as spiderwebs. When fascia is healthy, we can picture a web glistening in the morning dew. When it is constricted, it is twisted and knotted up. Saying constricted fascia is a huge problem is an understatement. It leads to unhealthy posture, severe pain, impairment, and a breakdown of communication along the fascial lines, continuing the cycle. In fact, it could be fracturing our very Consciousness. If we do not take responsibility for this enormous part of ourselves, we may be only living in partial awareness of who we are.

Interstitial fluid (see fig. 2) is the proverbial dew on the spiderweb, except its not separate, it’s in the tubules of fascia and it bathes all of our cells. It accounts for 60% of the fluid in our our bodies-about 7 gallons in an average-sized adult male. This fluid was formerly known but is only just becoming more fully understood. This has to do with advances in tools of dissection. When the skin is lacerated, the fluid retreats like when a piece of elastic is pulled tight and then cut. The tools to see inside the body at this level are a very recent invention, and thus, what was right under our skin was heretofore undetectable.

Now it gets fun. Some scientists who are studying fascia and interstitial fluid believe this is where our Consciousness resides. What?! The implication here is astounding: in deliberately working with our fascia, we are touching our own Consciousness, or yoga calls it Prana, the life-force.

I have been doing some research into the history of fabric and weaving, and webbing and spiders buried deep in ancient traditions and myths. They are reflected in both the microcosm and the macrocosm. Mircea Eliade wrote, “To know the myths is to learn the secret origin of things.”

In the smaller scope, we and our fascia represent the microcosm. Psalm 139:13 says we are “knit together in our mother’s womb.” Lysistrata explained by straightening out the strands of fabric, they become free and can be woven to make a “fine new cloak for the people.” Neith, the prime creator goddess in the early Egyptian pantheon, wove a veil between herself and humanity. Each aspect of life can be found within the veil’s strands through which it is possible to find higher understanding. The word “sutra,” from our English word “suture” is derived, means thread and is deeply important in the yoga tradition. The word “yoga” itself, from which our English word “yoke” is found, is the whole point. It means “to unite ,” or “to connect.” The word “tantra,” means “to weave."

In the larger scope of the Universe, the reference to fabric or web is pervasive. Einstein called it the “fabric of the Universe.” Most ancient cultures had a goddess for weaving such as Frija in Norse mythology, Athena in Greek, Japan’s Amaterasu, China’s weaving goddess on a beam of moonlight, and Hindu’s Maya as symbolized by a spider. In Batek Tunum, an indigenous tribe of Malaysia, shamans are experts at weaving cosmic threads into giant webs. The examples of both the inner and the outer fabric of Reality goes on and on.

Perhaps our Inner Light is inextricable to this fascial web of light. When we deliberately work with the microcosm of the fascial web and allow this vehicle towards Union within ourselves, we can perhaps then touch the fabric of the Universe, realizing neither is separate. In moving into a deeper understanding and curiosity of what our Inner Light truly is, we can expand this container to See, Hear and Know that “still, small Voice (I Kings 19:12).”

We can effectively begin to work with creating healthy, communicating fascia by bodywork but our most effective vehicle is through certain types of yoga. Mindful, low-load, long-held poses is especially effective in opening the flow of our fascia and for the health of our overall body. Breathwork is important as well, as only the breath can reach some of that deep connective tissue.

Intentionally working with our fascia opens us up to an incredible richness and flow into the Silence and connection with our own Inner Light.

Then weave for us a garment of brightness:
May the warp be the white light of morning,
May the weft be the red light of evening,
May the fringes be the falling rain,
May the border be the standing rainbow.
Thus weave for us a garment of brightness,
That we may walk fittingly where birds sing,
That we may walk fittingly where the grass is green,
O our Mother the Earth, O our Father the Sky."

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Barb French Interview

Last month Midori Bamba interviewed and reported on Dave French. This month Midori introduces us to Dave's wife, Barb.

“Love not by finding a perfect mate but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.”
Paula Mekdeci

Barbara was born the youngest child of three, with one brother and one sister. She attended Quaker schools outside Philadelphia as a child.
She loves to clean. She cleans and cleans more thoroughly than professional cleaning people. She also likes to paint. Her watercolors, many of them flowers, are beautiful.

She is the convener of the Building and Grounds Committee at our Quaker meeting, using her talents of organization and follow up to keep projects moving.
She enjoys sitting in silence in a warm part of the room, and when she speaks, it is always from a deeply personal perspective instead of anything theoretical or philosophical.  Her best friends are people in Meeting, since she finds it difficult to connect with some of our neighbors who seem too military or right-wing oriented.

At age 11, her family went to Ethiopia for 3 years where her father was a professor of engineering in Addis Ababa. Barb remembers having two pet monkeys and a horse, attending an American School, going on safaris, and getting terribly sick with malaria.

Her father deeply respected Gandhi. Barb loved Mother Teresa, who gave her  spiritual inspiration. Barb agrees with all of Mother Teresa’s activities and work.

Every time she thinks about Mother Teresa, her heart is filled with joy, peace, love and patience. Mother Teresa is her spiritual mentor. She would like to be like Mother Teresa.

In 1991, Barb and her daughter Mary visited Mother Teresa's orphanage in Kolkata, India as volunteers for a week. Ever since she was a child, she had wished to see Mother Teresa. Finally her dream came true. She was speechless!

I will have my own foster family, this has been her wish since she was 8.   

Returning to Ames, Iowa in 1959, and entering 9th grade, she was the sensation of the school for being so unique and talking about her pet monkeys. She learned to drive in her dad’s Model A Ford at age 16.

Her family attended a Quaker meeting in Ames. Her mother was deeply involved in AFSC (American Friends Service Committee) work.

In high school Barb lead a minor boycott against the culture of valuing cheerleaders just because it was expected that everyone should think they were wonderful. Barb wanted people to be free to think otherwise. She was not a conformist. Everyone should have his or her own sense of belonging. She didn’t think there was anything wrong with the cheerleaders, but she didn’t want to be forced to go along with the crowd. She wanted to encourage others to be different. She was a social activist in her early years.

She went to Blackburn College in Carlinville, IL, a co-op college, but after one year she returned to Iowa State, where she studied Child Development and was on the Dean’s  Advisory Board. She also attended Merrill Palmer Institute in Detroit for one semester.

She married her sweetheart from high school, David French, in a Quaker wedding ceremony in February 1967, crying all thru the ceremony. The honeymoon was a disaster; Barb fell while trying to learn to ski and broke her leg badly! David said he had promised “for better or for worse” but didn’t expect to be tested so early.

Their marriage has survived 51 years so far.

Barb dreamed of overseas service, so they entered the Peace Corps and served in Malaysia for two years. She worked as a rural school advisor for the first year, but due to terrorist activity had to change to teaching in a Catholic high school in town the second year. She convinced the priest in charge of the school to allow her to teach the girls “sex education,” much to the girls’ appreciation but the disappointment of the boys.

Back in the US in 1970, Barb began pursuing her childhood dream of running an orphanage, but instead became a foster parent and hosted nearly 20 children the first year (max of 4 at any time). Her baby girl was born the end of 1971, and then she and David adopted 3 more children while at the same time hosting several more ‘borrowed’ children.

Too many stories to tell here!

Barb has also had many out-of the-home jobs, including being school secretary, working at McDonalds, owning a second hand clothing business, working as a travel agent, and being the costume coordinator and snack bar sales lady at a local ballet company. She became the head of sound lighting for our community theater group. Barb often prefers to be behind the scenes instead of on stage. Her favorite volunteer job was flying to and from Korea to escort children to the US to be adopted here; she made that trip half a dozen times in the mid 1970s.

Barb has always been someone ready for the next adventure in life, and isn’t shy to want to move somewhere unexpected, so don’t think that her life to predictable!

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FCNL Survey Results

Every two years, our Friends Committee on National Legislation asks Friends and their meetings, churches, and other groups all over the country to share which of the many federal policy issues and questions identified in FCNL’s Policy Statement, “The World We Seek,” they think are most important. See

Through constructive cooperation between the VBFM Committees on P&SJ and Communications, we were able to secure participation from forty three (43) members and attenders of the meeting. Here are the aggregated priority choices of those participating in our process, as requested by FCNL.

Results are listed below:

1. Promote policies that reduce economic inequality and poverty; encourage fair compensation for workers and health care for all.    33
2. Advance equitable criminal justice systems that eliminate mass incarceration and support law-enforcement that is community-oriented and demilitarized.    25
3. Pursue policies that promote and respect the rights, safety, and dignity of all immigrants, refugees, and migrants.    24
4. Advocate for sustainable solutions to climate disruption and its consequences.    19
5. Work to end gun violence..    18
6. Promote peacebuilding, diplomacy and the peaceful prevention and resolution of violent conflict with an emphasis on the Middle East.    16
7. Promote equitable access for all citizens to participation in the political process.    12
8. Reduce military spending and armed interventions.5    11
9. Witness and advocate on Native American concerns.    5
10. Promote nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.    5

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Houston Shirk Memorial

A memorial service for Houston Shirk was held on April 22 at the Virginia Beach Friends Meetinghouse. Houston's wife Linda chose that day as it was Earth Day, Houston's favorite day of the year. Linda said Houston chose Earth Day for their wedding day so that Houston would not forget their anniversary. April 22, 2018 would have been their 23rd anniversary.

Friends and family celebrated Houston's life and shared memories, and many good stories at the memorial service.

Several years ago Houston and Linda had a 'calling' while traveling. They came home and worked with Louise Wilson and Virginia Beach Friends Meeting to form the Creeds Preparative Meeting, where many have enjoyed worship - and on the Creeds Hum Dinger days, great food, and fun and laughter and playing there on the banks of the North Landing River.

Below are links to the Slideshow from Houston's Memorial, a Memorial Website, many pictures and Houston performing two songs. Those songs were recorded inside the Creeds Meetinghouse after a Meeting for Worship.


Slideshow from Houston's Memorial...

Memorial Website...

Pictures 1...

Pictures 2...

Pictures 3...

Houston Performing - The Old Rugged Cross...

Houston Performing - I've Touched The Hem Of His Garment...

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Community Notes

  • Barb French’s brother Chad Squires died recently in Laconia New Hampshire, where he had lived and worked as a medical doctor for the last 55 years. Chad was a life-long Quaker, and avid sailor, and loved singing. A memorial service will be held May 11 in Laconia.
  • Church Women United are holding a May Friendship Day Celebration on Friday May 4, 6 p.m., at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 1396 Lynnhaven Parkway, Virginia Beach, VA 23453. Contact Liana Fleming for details,
  • Laley Lippard has taken a position as the new Creative Producer for the Welders - Washington D.C.'s only playwrights' collective devoted exclusively to developing and producing new plays.

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Quick Links

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Next Meeting for Business Query - #11 / Social Justice and Equality:

Do we reverence that of God in every human being with concern for the needs of each individual? Are we seeking to rectify existing social injustice and racial discrimination in our local communities and in the world at large?

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Maintained By: Communications Committee
Updated: Monthly