Quakers and the Light

In this week’s Quaker video: What is “the Light,” and why are Quakers so excited about it?

Featured Video Play Icon

In this week’s Quaker video: What is “the Light,” and why are Quakers so excited about it?


A.J. Mendoza (Quaker Voluntary Service, Atlanta GA)
My first couple times in trying to center down to unprogrammed worship was a struggle. Not being raised in it at all, being raised in the Pentecostal tradition, I came into this like, “Well, I’m supposed to be listening to the light… hmmm! And this isn’t working!”

What Do Quakers Mean By the Inner Light?

Marcelle Martin (AWholeHeart.com, Richmond IN)
Well, the Inner Light is also called by many different names by Quakers: the Inward Light, the Light of Christ, that of God within.

Michael Birkel (Earlham College, Richmond IN)
Early Friends got the expression from the first chapter of the gospel of John, where we find in verse 9 the phrase, “the true light, which enlightens everyone coming into the world.”

Max Carter (Guilford College, Greensboro NC)
Early Friends understood that to be the Light of Jesus Christ. It was not a metaphor, but it was the real presence of Christ within.

Marcelle Martin (AWholeHeart.com, Richmond IN)
It was also called “the seed” because it represented something very small of God planted inside. The phrase “the seed” suggests that that small thing might not grow if you block it up, if you ignore it, if you have all these distractions.

Naomi Madaras (Quaker Leadership Scholars Program, Chambersburg Friends Meeting)
So it’s very much an energetic, alive thing. It’s not just this sort of light switch that flips on or off depending on whether you see it. It’s this force and a Spirit that we all get to share and get to experience together, hopefully, if we’re aware that it’s there. So it’s a process of being observant.

The Light That Guides Us

Keenan Lorenzato (Quaker Leadership Scholars Program, Dover Friends Meeting)
I guess the way for me to speak about the Light that guides us is to think about what happens when we don’t have light to guide us. So we’re fumbling around in the dark, we’re humans, we don’t have night vision. We can’t see where we’re going.

Noah Baker Merrill (Quaker Voluntary Service, Putney Friends Meeting)
One of the quotations that has always spoken to me is the instructions of an early Quaker named James Naylor who talks about those times in our lives where we feel surrounded by confusion and darkness, by a spiritual sense of being lost or being in danger.

And he says, “Art thou in the darkness? Well mind it not, for if you mind it, it will feed thee more. [It will grow in you.] But stand still and act not and wait in patience until Light arises out of darkness to lead thee.”

And that has been my experience. That there is a power and a life that rises in those places of darkness in our lives if we can wait and open to it.

The Light That Illuminates

Michael Birkel (Earlham College, Richmond IN)
And so the Light is that presence of God that illuminates for us. It might show us a way forward. It might embrace us and welcome us into the inward life.

Marcelle Martin (AWholeHeart.com, Richmond IN)
It’s experienced as an inward kind of illumination that shows you things. It shows you—oftentimes first of all—what is not of the Light or what is blocking the Light.

Michael Birkel (Earlham College, Richmond IN)
The Light was not simply a cozy fire to warm ourselves with on a wintry day. The Light was a beacon and this beacon spread its light over all those aspects of ourselves that we might prefer to admit weren’t there. The Light reveals to us—among other things—our own capacity to do terrible things, to do great harm in this world. And so the Light was powerful but it was also terrifying.

Marcelle Martin (AWholeHeart.com, Richmond IN)
And then it shows you God’s truth or God’s way. What the Light is in its fullness, which is love and truth and peace and unity, justice, mercy, all of those wonderful attributes that we know come from God and then it shows you how God wants you to live, according to the Light, so that those qualities of God can be manifest in society.

Holding Someone in the Light

Charlotte Cloyd (Guilford College, Future Quaker Voluntary Service Volunteer)
Holding someone in the Light, for me, means that I’m directing my positive energy towards the person that is in need of support and love.

Trenor Colby (Quaker Leadership Scholars Program, Dover Friends Meeting)
Last year my friend passed away and it was kind of difficult for me to share that with everybody here but I did and I received just a wonderful warm feeling from everybody. There was a lot less sense of pity than there was just, “I’m here for you.” Just kind of giving your energy towards somebody and being present. I think that’s when I was held in the Light the most, because I asked for that help from the community here.

A.J. Mendoza (Quaker Voluntary Service, Atlanta GA)
And that is so freeing! There’s not an authority that I need to appeal to or try to seek from somebody else. It’s here and it’s there and it’s in all of us, together. Seeking my piece of that is incredible. But being in a community that is seeking that same thing: amazing. What a thing to sit down and do every week. It gets me so excited. The Light, goodness gracious….


It has been an honor to serve Friends as the founder and director of QuakerSpeak. Now I am pleased to announce my next endeavor, a Quaker media project for the modern era. Find out more at TheeQuaker.org

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *