When this meeting first established a website in the year 2000, members and attenders were asked if there was anything they’d like to share with visitors to the site. Several responded with statements about how and why they were drawn to Quaker Meeting. One responded with poetry. Here is what they shared.
I was a Methodist as a child, but I knew that I had Quaker ancestors, and was always interested in that fact. In college, my (now) wife and I started attending Ann Arbor Friends Meeting. This was in the late 1960’s, and opposition to the Viet Nam war was building up. I remember walking across the bridge between Detroit and Windsor with Elise Boulding and a lot of others, to deliver, illegally we were told, medicines to be sent to Viet Nam.
In May of 1967, we married in the Ann Arbor Friends Meeting house, not under the care of that meeting, not even after the manner of friends. That autumn we moved to Southern California, thinking that would be a temporary experiment. We joined Marloma Friends Meeting a soon after. Ten years later, with two young sons needing some companionship, we transferred to Orange County Friends Meeting, which at that time had a pretty active first-day program.
Our “temporary” stay on the West Coast has become permanent. We’re a long way from the families we grew up with, but our Meeting has filled in the gap.
Not long ago an acquaintance, who was casually interested in knowing something about Quakerism, asked me if I found Meeting inspiring.
Inspiring? I hadn’t exactly thought about it that way. At any given moment of Meeting I am as likely to be dozing or daydreaming as I am to be experiencing transports of inspiration. On the other hand…
I love coming to Meeting because in that hour of silence I can set aside the daily busy-ness of life and simply be attentive to the “bare bones” of what matters most to me, sustained and nurtured by a faith community that shares values about which I feel passionately.
I love Quaker thought because of the importance it accords to individual conscience and because the Quaker testimonies – integrity, unity, equality, simplicity, peace, and community – offer a foundation for a meaningful life while they encourage a lifetime of exploration and personal growth.
As a relatively new Quaker, I am still moved by the insightfulness, warmth, compassion, and nurturance that I see Quakers bringing to their human interactions, both within the Meeting and beyond it.
I explained this to my friend. “Well, that sounds inspiring to me!” she said.
I guess I have to agree.
I am a gringa--una gringa vieja--an old Caucasian woman. I am weak, susceptible to disease, sometimes in pain--but I am not dying. She is Latina, young and strong. There is nothing in her eyes or demeanor to show the struggle her life has been. She smiles and sings while she is scrubbing the shower and cleaning the toilet. We talk about her mother, her children and her sisters. Not about her husband, if she has one. To me, she is loving, willing, and dependable. I go to the hospital. I have a bacterial blood infection. There she is again! her name is Maria--Tita--Esperanza--Conchita She supports me as we work our way to the bathroom, pulling the IV machine in our wake. She rubs my back, but must hurry to her next patient at the sound of the buzzer. In the middle of the night she flicks on the soft light and whispers as she helps me. She smooths the covers, removes my slippers, and smiles "Good Night." My doctor helps me heal. He knows how to make me well. I go home, grateful for the many kindnesses of the people I have met. But in my heart, most grateful to the young Latina. She has no idea how beautiful she is.
I know I'm going to die. But not today. I have these things to do -- There is no way, or time enough, To do them all. I'll not delay to start tomorrow, I can't today because I saw a bird, a flower, a bee. I had to watch because you see them all together so seldomly. My neighbor called to me to come and see her pups. She wanted to talk to me about her dogs she loves so much. The phone rang and time flew by. I fell asleep in my soft chair; I had no thought of staying there. I know I'm going to die -- But not today. I'll think about it later. Or I'll just let it come and find me there.
Although I was raised as a Methodist minister and missionary’s daughter, while still in college I left conventional Protestantism and became a Friend. This change was largely because of their outreach program in the American Friends Service Committee. These 65 years of Quaker fellowship and support have been the foundation of my spiritual life, bringing me
- close new friendships,
- increased knowledge of Quaker beliefs and commitments,
- fulfillment of my strong need to be in an organization, actively involved in helping needy people worldwide.
I especially admire the lack of Quaker proselytizing, a practice I abhor in conventional religion’s outreach programs. Most of all, I am very comfortable with an unstructured worship with kindred spirits, all searching the inner light in silence, for insight and spiritual sustenance and growth, for inspiration and guidance.
When I was sixteen and a rebellious kid, being dragged all unwilling to church one summer day, the daughter-in-law of an acquaintance told me quietly, “Thee should try a Quaker meeting. Thee would like it, I think.” Twelve years later I followed her advice. I first came to Friends in Berkeley, when I was a grad student, recently divorced, and tired both of organized Protestantism and of not committing to a religious life. A year or two later, in 1974, I began to attend Orange County Friends Meeting. I joined in 1983. My heart has grown up in this meeting, and many wounds have been healed by it. Friends have given me much love, and helped me when I felt lost. I am very, very happy here.