Discernment and Clearness

What does it mean to discern something?  To reach clearness / become clear?


Collected From an Open Online Survey
7/20/09 – 7/24/09


To discern something is to understand the Reality of some part of Creation more nearly as it is in God’s understanding.  To reach clearness is to discern how God is leading us to act in response to our discernment.  The Way opens, or becomes clear, when in God’s kairos the time has come to act.

-Lloyd Lee Wilson – Rich Square Monthly Meeting, NCYM(C)


I think discerning means to align one’s path with God’s, as best as we can know that.

When I have arrived at clarity, I feel as though I have arrived at a decision that is firm and clear,but also very spacious and open.  I feel God to be very present and the possibilities of how I will continue to be guided are boundless, but a sure path, narrow or wide, has emerged.

-Anonymous, North Carolina Yearly Meeting (FUM


To develop a deep felt sense that every aspect of a question has been properly considered and the best course of action has been determined. I personally feel it more than think it, when I am clear on something. When I have clerked a committee or group, I feel it when no one is tense, and everyone has spoken and reached consensus. Sometimes clearness is a committee takes longer than one might imagine — if it seems there is consensus but some people’s verbal or body language still is tense, then there is not clearness.

-An Anonymous Attender


to discern is to invite the spiritual into the decision making.  To reach clearness/become clear. hmmm.  (maybe you will share some of the other answers?)

-Liz, Savannah Friends Meeting


It’s knowing something in your soul, not your mind.

-Anonymous, Brooklyn Meeting


Clearness or discernment is the state of being spiritually at peace with a matter or an idea.

-P.W. – FGC QUAKER from Madison W


Discernment is the understanding of God’s will (or the “greater logic” if you prefer impersonality in your divinity) through the sharing and refinement of human perspectives.   As in Meeting for Business, there is a belief that there is a solution or path beyond our current understanding and discernment is the process of reaching or approaching that path or solution by questioning and listening and spiritual practice.

-Ken Haase, Beacon Hill Meeting, NEYM


Discernment means “dividing” or sorting.  In the iconography of the masculine, the archetype ofthe King carries a sword.   The shadow King, a despot, wields the sword as an instrument of violence, but the good King wields the sword as a tool for dividing the beneficial from the harmful;an instrument of discerning.

I would like to put forward a word on “God’s Time.”  Friends accept that clearness may take a while, that it may happen in God’s time, kairos, rather than our time, chronos. We usually mean that God’s time, like geological time, moves very slowly, on a grand, godlike scale. But I would liketo propose that sometimes God’s time is like a lightening bolt.  Jesus said to Simon (later Peter)and his brother Andrew, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.”   Scripture says “IMMEDIATELY they left their nets and followed him.” (Matthew 1:20)   Jesus then calls more fishermen, James and John, who leave their father Zebedee in the boat and follow.  I picture the old man standing in the boat with the nets which need mending thinking “WTF?”   Be on the lookout for the kairos that is Right Freakin’ NOW.  You don’t want to miss God’s call

-Carl Magruder, Pacific Yearly Meeting


To feel clearly the divine Guide, to feel a falling away of difficulties or objections, to feel relieved of opinions or prejudices. Not the same as liking a solution.

-Anonymous, Cambridge Meeting, NEYM


To find that quiet place within and examine the validity of… is it still true?  This is a short and almost inane answer to  deep questions that may no have words in the answer…if I can find that quiet, connected place within and feel the same about a leading, then I am clear. If I can communicate a leading to a trusted Friend and they understand – I am clear.

-Donna Beckwith – Perry City, NYYM


Discern for me, is reaching an understanding.  Clearness is knowing what I am to do with my understanding as it touches and impacts my life.

-Anonymous, New Bedford Monthy Meeting


To come to an understanding. To know what is the right thing to do or what is the right way to be. Sometimes this is easy and other times it’s a hard struggle.

Clearness often takes time. There have been times when I have been impatient with myself because I couldn’t decide something. I would feel that I was being wishy-washy. Then when the clearness came, I would realize that the time hadn’t been right until that moment. So, I think clearness can have a time factor to it.

-Nancy McLauchlan, Bridge City Meeting, North Pacific Yearly Meeting


Standing still in the Light implies getting probed from all directions and revealing otherwise unseen motives, assumptions, consequences, and connections to everything else one stands for. In that Light it gets clear why one would do what one is proposing to do. Then what one does reveals what their greatest value is. That’s testimony.

Unfortunately, clearness committees can become support committees guided by the principle of Cheat on they Wife as Long as thou Canst.  Which is still clear.



To perceive deeply into the inner truth, to let the truth of a situation illuminate one’s current position and course of action.

-Gail Eastwood, Southern Humboldt Worship Group, Pacific YM