Listen to this post:
The first response came from a young adult, whose wisdom I have learned to trust. Remember "awesome Quakerness," she responded. Oh, yeah, my Quaker Meeting, the one I have attended regularly for 14 years, served on numerous committees, loved and been annoyed with, but mostly loved. The place I feel accepted for who I am, but, sometimes, also unseen. The one I've disengaged from a bit to go out into the real world and complete the work to which God calls. That one.
So I journeyed there Sunday with those thoughts in my head and heart. I wanted someone to reach out to me. Little did I know it would start with my 15-year-old being tempted to worship with a bookstore trip after. As I headed into worship, I left her and my younger daughter behind to debate whether to attend First Day School or hang, silently, with the adults. The younger went one way and the older, another. When she brushed up against me on the pew, my being fluttered. It took me Somewhere Else. To the first time I held her hand, we pushed through the glass-and-wood doors and took our seats on the satiny benches polished by 50 years of phantom fannies. She was a toddler and I, a young(er) mother seeking relief from the pain of an auto accident. When my favorite song, the Shaker "Simple Gifts," lulled out of the piano, I knew I was home. Before any worship had officially begun.
How many stories had I heard of people seeking the right faith community for, well, years? I merely went where my mother and daughter told me to. My mom had known I was struggling and searching and encouraged me to try the Quakers. "I think you'll like the simplicity," she said. Didn't hurt that my favorite Methodist pastor from childhood was the interim. Shortly before that, one morning my daughter greeted me, unprompted, with "Mommy, I know Jesus." Yes you do, I thought, and it's time to find a spiritual home.
That home has been Cincinnati Friends Meeting, through thick and thin. Sunday, the minister's message focused on getting young Quakers back to meeting. Like Autumn and baby Carter, who came with his dad (the first person to ever give Autumn, gum and I reminded him) and mom, granddad, who grew up in the meeting, and great-grandparents. They have been rocks of this meeting. In fact, Papa Paul was the first to speak to me that initial visit with Autumn. We bonded over his Cincinnati Mortuary School shirt because I had worked in the funeral industry.
After a few months, back when Autumn and I first attended and when a permanent minister was hired, Quakers asked if I would leave as well. No way, I invariably answered because I remembered Paul and his kindness to a stranger. He reminisced about how he'd get down on the playroom floor with both of my girls, just like he now does with Carter.
It all was a warm reminder that I do, indeed, have more than pockets of community.
• Where do I experience community?
• How do I experience it?
• What's my role in building that community?
• When it seems lacking, how do I fill that need?
• How has Spirit filled it for me?
after witnessing this
intense crush of
I was, no doubt,
envious that I
I felt I
by a young
was no farther
my faith community,