Living the SPICES

The 2019 Friends Magazine has arrived and for this edition’s Query the editors would like to know:

Which of the Quaker SPICES do you find it most challenging to live into—and why?

[SPICES is the acronym for the Quaker testimonies of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship]

Alumni, faculty, and parents weighed in with their responses, excerpted below. We invite you to read on and share your thoughts using the “Submit Comment” form below.

Dan Griffiths ’89, senior vice president for business operations at Hippo Education

Before I was asked to write this piece, I hadn’t explicitly considered the Quaker SPICES in the 30 years since I graduated from Friends. That isn’t to say that that I hadn’t considered these individual values—it’s hard not to struggle with simplicity in the age of instant everything, or peace in an overly complicated world. Integrity requires constant vigilance, community requires constant effort (at least in my case), and stewardship feels needed more than ever.

So … yes, I have thought about these values, but lost sight of the Quaker teachings that were such a constant but unimposing part of my education at Friends. When I stop to truly consider these values and how I live into them, include them in my life, I jump right to equality. In practical terms, I’m not faced with the same kind of issues of equality that I think most people think of when considering the term.

For me, the most personal struggle for equality is the struggle that my family takes on every day. I am the very lucky Dad of a spectacular 17-year-old son named Cole…More

Josh Valle ’89, P 21’, Pre-K head teacher at Friends School of Baltimore at Friends

Simplicity is something I think we all crave, as the world around us grows daily more complicated and demanding. Simplicity seems to have two aspects—one applying to things and one to time. As a teacher, I struggle to maintain simplicity in the classroom, especially when it comes to time. It’s a bit easier because my students are so young, but even at their age there are many forces working to complicate their lives and crowd their schedules. I strive to balance the wonderful learning opportunities the School provides with their need to play outside, to have free time when they can create with paper or build with wooden blocks. I have to remind myself to always carve out time when they can play, listen to a story, or take a nap. Once we start rushing, hurrying from one thing to the next, I know that I’ve lost sight of this simplicity of time and need to slow down and reexamine our routine…More

Shaun Munroe ’12, admission associate and Middle School baseball coach, Friends School of Baltimore

At face value, the SPICES seem to be fairly straightforward. However, when you dig a little deeper the complexities continually emerge. The Quaker notion of “continuing revelation” speaks to the ever-changing and deepening truth of the world around us, a truth that I have sought out through the power of dialogue. Before working at Friends, I was a facilitator of dialogues between Afghan civilians and NATO cadets who were seeking to connect and humanize each other from thousands of miles apart. Finding equality with people who are so different and have differing needs is a challenge…More

Lindsay Leimbach ’84, mindful living coach, CenteredMoment.com

Peace is the most challenging of the Quaker SPICES. Peace, especially inner peace, is often disrupted due to my brain’s hard wiring. It is important for me to remember that all brains are hard wired, from birth, to have the tendency to focus on the negative. The amygdala part of the brain serves as an alarm system. Mine is often over anxious, which can hijack my attention and energy, and rob me of peace.

When I become aware that my amygdala wants to have an impulsive response of fight, flight, or freeze, I am able to supersede this response with mindfulness and conscious choice. My awareness and the power of conscious choice foster inner peace. These in turn become the building blocks for me to expresses the Quaker SPICES with skill and mindful action.

Here are two mindful formulas I use to cultivate the power of conscious choices with inner peace…More

Anne Friedlander Henslee ’88, P ’17, ’22, associate broker with Cummings & Co. Realtors

It was the late summer of 1973—on the heels of Watergate, the dust of the Vietnam War, and my parents’ impending divorce—when I, at the age of two, joined the Friends community. What we now refer to as the SPICES had not become part of our vocabulary, but the overriding Quaker testimonies of simplicity, equality, justice, and peace were the theme of how we lived our lives, and still do. So when I was asked recently about which of the principles—simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, stewardship—I find most challenging, my immediate response was, “Well, none of them. They have always been a fundamental core of who I am.” But, for the purpose of this query, I decided to dig deeper. It didn’t take me long to find my greatest challenge…More

MaryAnn Niclas, Pre-Primary and Lower School counselor at Friends School of Baltimore

Many years ago, I was in a little store buying a top.  A second top had been caught up with the first. The cashier separated out the two tops and asked if I wanted both. I said I did not, and added that I wasn’t sure how the second one was mixed up with the first. She said she was glad we straightened out the situation, and then she said something I’ve always remembered. She said, “It’s not good karma to take what isn’t yours.” This had been etched into me as I grew up.  Honesty was a big deal with my family, especially my dad. My dad tried to be as honest with himself as he could, and he was certainly honest with others. He expected the same from me.

This is not to say I was always honest; honestly I wasn’t! Sometimes honesty and integrity would get in the way of something I wanted to do (but wasn’t allowed), somewhere I wanted to go (but wasn’t allowed), or some object I wanted (but it wasn’t allowed). Sometimes my wants were in direct conflict with my integrity, and sometimes I would go against my own integrity and lie, sneak around, or hide things from my parents. I managed to get away with things most of the time, but I didn’t really feel great about it.

Then I grew up and had a daughter…More

Be a part of The Thinking Cap’s online discussion group. Weigh in on something you’ve read or add a new insight in the Comment section below. 

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