I like to joke that I attended my first Quaker meeting because the Belief-O-Matic told me to; but now, ten years later, I am certain that that silly internet quiz was really just the first of many divine nudges guiding me on my spiritual journey... I came to Quakers as a young adult, fresh from college, seeking community, rootedness, and a spiritual home. The beauty in the silence I found in Quaker waiting worship is how it holds me in a safe space for exploring, deepening, and connecting, no matter my stage of life or location on the spiritual path.
Quaker Quest Blog
I think I came to Quakerism for all the wrong reasons; I hope I’ve stayed for the right ones. As an adolescent, I had an active spiritual life. I didn’t have words for it, but I felt the presence of Holiness in the natural world, in art and poetry, and sometimes in my inner being. But church life as I knew it didn’t seem to have anything to do with how I experienced God – formal prayers, sermons, and rituals left me uninspired. When I first read about modern Quakers, I was delighted. I was attracted to all the things that Quakers were not―not creedal, not ritualistic, not hierarchical―a religion empty of all the things I rejected about religion!
My Quaker story begins a few years before I was born.... My mother fell in with Quakers in New York City, during the 60s protests against the Vietnam War. I was born in the mid 70s. I grew up in a completely secular household, but both of my parents had what I would now call a secular Quaker style of parenting my brothers and me. They gave us moral guidelines and lots of leeway to think for ourselves. I remember when I was small, asking about heaven. They explained how it was an important idea to many people, but they didn't believe in it. And maybe it's up to us to create heaven while we were living on earth.
I know now that Quakers refer to people who walk in the door as “Seekers.” I’m not sure that always fits. I stumbled into my first Meeting almost by accident. One Wednesday morning I was helping a friend who teaches with the outdoors program at the Delaware Valley Friends School. We were at Camp Onas, in Bucks County, Pa. A Quaker Meeting was part of the schedule for the day. So I went.
When I first came to Quakerism about 25 years ago, I was looking for a spiritual community that would accept, if not welcome, the theology I had grown into and the glimpses I had experienced of the Beyond. I was curious about the “sitting in silence” piece. Although I had a little practice with both individual and group meditation, the idea of sitting for an hour in silence seemed a bit adventuresome. To my surprise, at my first Meeting for Worship, I experienced what I have since learned is a quite frequent response—I felt I had come home.