1. Update

What Does Fierce Love Look Like?

We asked Friends to reflect on the meaning of this year's Annual Meeting theme

September 1, 2020

These times call for love with an edge. Working for change today requires a ferocity and tenacity that colors the idea of love with the full range of its meanings. It is not passive, not necessarily nice or pretty. It is fierce.

Just days after the November elections, FCNL’s community will gather virtually at our Annual Meeting. We will practice the meeting’s theme of “Fierce Love” through lobbying, worship, and fellowship. We hope you’ll be there.

As we prepare for this event, we asked people in FCNL’s network to reflect on the meaning of “Fierce Love.” Here are some of their responses.

Joey Hartmann-Dow

Joey Hartmann-Dow

Each year on my birthday, like many people, I take a selfie. I post it on social media, with a cute caption and life update. I say, “Happy Anniversary, World.” We fight sometimes, but I do love you.

The Earth and I have been together for 30 years. It’s a fresh relationship, to her, but I’m committed. Sometimes it’s really hard, of course it is.

It keeps getting easier for the world to break my heart— every day I look at my phone, disaster spreads like wildfire. “Fierce” love, it almost sounds violent. It feels like a fight, it even sounds like a hiss. It’s not cute, or romantic, or small. It is wild but also clear, sharp, and true.

We can feel angry, and we can love at the same time. We can feel so disappointed and frustrated, and still hold love. It’s then my Light feels more like a fire. How do we show love with a broken heart? How do we show up in the dark when our flames are low? (Oh, fiercely, of course.)

Fierceness is a response to a threat. My planet is threatened, the world as I know it is threatened, but I refuse to let my love be threatened. In the face of a broken heart, I want my love to be fierce—blazing, wild, clear, sharp, and true.

Joey Hartmann-Dow lives in New Orleans, LA and is a member of Lehigh Valley Friends (Bethlehem, PA). She is an artist and activist, and a member of the recently formed FCNL Advocacy Team in New Orleans.

Ebby Luvaga

Ebby Luvaga

The words “Fierce” and “Love” presented separately might make one conjure up an image of a lioness getting ready to defend her cubs from an approaching predator. The tenderness with which she cares for her cubs and ferocity with which she is ready to defend them, if a predator gets any closer, is nothing short of “Fierce Love.”

Known for their pacifism, Quakers have a long history of standing up for the voiceless and loving their neighbors unapologetically. While the image of “Fierce Love” may seem divergent from Quakerism, it uniquely embodies its principles—humble servants of God who are ready and willing to stand up fiercely for peace, equity, and justice for all.

I am, therefore, inspired by such a fierce, yet tender theme that truly speaks to long-held Quaker values and beliefs, and can hardly wait for this year’s Annual Meeting in November.

Ebby S. Luvaga is a member of Ames Friends Meeting, Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative). Ebby was born and raised in Kenya, a member of the East African Yearly Meeting-North, but now calls Ames, IA home. She is a member of FCNL's General Committee and serves on the Policy Committee.

Steve Whinfield

Steve Whinfield

My first reaction, maybe like yours, was that these two words just didn't seem to fit together. To me, “fierce” had a feeling of aggression and disconnection. Mind you, I have an artist's heart.

Over time, I’ve come to understand Fierce Love as "demanding affective connection.” This definition brings me closer to understanding how these two words can work together--and also spoke to the god within me.

As FCNL was considering Fierce Love as the theme of Annual Meeting, I heard it used during the memorial of George Floyd, describing how George’s family spoke about him. Through their anger, they wanted to bring love out of the listeners. Anger would be the easy way to go.

Fierce Love showed up for me recently in the aftermath of the storm Isaias. Isolated by a pandemic, without power for nearly a week, anxieties were piling up. But then, a neighbor set up a place for people to charge their phones off their generator. Other neighbors put out chairs. Another added a book of short stories by a local author to read while you waited. Spending time in that space, I realized that I felt loved— through deliberate action at a time when that spirit might be lost. Once again, "Fierce Love" was on my mind.

Fierce Love sign.

Steve Whinfield's "Fierce Love" sign.

Led by my artist’s heart, I fire ceramic sculptures once a year in a friend’s amalgam kiln. To dive deeper into "Fierce Love," I crafted a handmade sign. These words are forged in fire to stone. In worship, someone recently shared the message that love is fire and in fire we can find love if we look. This message gave a new meaning to my sign.

While working on this sign, I received a flyer from Friends Center for Children, an early childhood education school on our meetinghouse property where I was once a board member. The flyer spoke of love as the avenue for our children to get through these difficult Covid times. Like a bolt of lightning, I saw "Fierce Love" as making joy out of pain. I now see it everywhere.

Can you live "Fierce Love"? Can you see "Fierce Love" around you?

Please look for it. It is completely worth your time if you can.

Steve Whinfield is a member of New Haven Monthly Meeting and lives in Cheshire, CT. He is a member of FCNL’s General Committee and serves on the Annual Meeting Planning Committee.

Event Fierce Love: Annual Meeting 2020 

More than 800 Quakers and friends from across the country gathered virtually to engage in worship, listening, and advocacy as we lobbied together for strong action to address the crisis of racism, policy brutality, and the militarization of police!