Having left behind the Anglican roots of her childhood, Jennifer Kavanagh discovered the Society of Friends – better known as Quakerism – as an adult. We spoke to her about how to be a practical mystic, how to subvert hierarchies by being silent, how to be part of a Christian religion without being a Christian, how to have a church without a leader, and what not to call the Queen.

Following the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and David Blower reflect on the faith they inherited, what it means to be a Christian, and what Quakerism might offer their evolving faith.

Interview starts at 13m 24s

Image used with permission


The World Is Our Cloister: A Guide to the Modern Religious Life

Quaker Quicks – Practical Mystics: Quaker Faith in Action

A Little Book of Unknowing

Heart of Oneness: a Little Book of Connection


“We gather in what I think of as expectant silence. It’s a listening. It’s a waiting. It’s passive in that we are waiting to receive, but it is not passive in that nothing is happening. And we’re waiting to be guided how to live our lives. It’s very much linked to what we do in the world. And so we may receive something directly, or from something that somebody else says. We may not feel anything at all; quite often we don’t feel anything at all. But I always feel changed, I always feel more at peace. And maybe something will happen that reverberates later. Something emerges, but comes from that time.”

“I think of it at a triangle: self, the divine, and the others in the room. And we take that out into the world, so that we work with others and through others and with the divine in terms of what we do. It’s about our connectedness – we are all connected.”

“It’s about having a sense that something exists, but not that we can necessarily say what it is; that we might all have very different experiences of the divine. And I think the moment you try to define it, it’s to reduce it to human proportions.”


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  1. tanya lee Feb 14, 2021

    oh, my heart aches just listening to her. It sounds so authentic and lovely.

  2. Maiya Lyons. Mar 26, 2021

    So well expressed and the connectedness comes each time we inwardly ask for God’s presence to guide and nourish our spirits of love, light and humility .

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