I just arrived home rather later than expected from a meeting of Friends (Quakers) at a friend’s house. This is one of those promising avenues for me for the possibility of finding community. We meet every other Sunday evening for a time of unprogrammed worship followed by food and conversation. (For those unfamiliar with Quaker worship, unprogrammed means that we sit together in silence until someone feels led to speak out of the silence. Sometimes we may be silent the whole time, sometimes many share their thoughts as they feel led.)
This is the third time that I’ve joined them, and the group has been different every time I’ve gone. But I feel seen there. In the midst of my struggles with this question of feeling invisible, it was a balm to my heart to be there tonight.
The things that were shared during our unprogrammed worship time were meaningful. I had wonderful conversations with several different people, most of whom I had not had a chance to talk with before. Three people suggested the possibility of meeting me sometime for lunch and wanted my contact information to make sure that happened. I was teased in front of several people and laughed along with them, which is a clear sign that I felt at home. One person gave me a good hug (it’s been several weeks since my last hug, and it was wonderful!). Several people invited me to try out other meetings in town—in fact, two of them were about to do a tug of war over my attendance at their meeting at one point, which was rather funny and quite flattering. My friend and his wife invited me to stay and chat with them and their house guest after everyone else left. (And I’m only home now because they weren’t successful in talking me into spending the night. They were still chatting away when I left.) They worried over me driving at night.
One of the people who was there tonight shared something during the unprogrammed part of the meeting that has really stuck with me. He said that Quakers don’t do theology the way that most Protestant groups do (in terms of debating and formalizing a definitive statement of what must be believed in order to belong), instead Quakers are theology in that we live our beliefs more than we talk about them. I have to say that this diverse group of people who I am getting to know do indeed live out their beliefs in the way that they relate to me and to one another. I know they are not perfect, but I think that this just might be a way of being Christian that I can live out with integrity, without feeling like I need to be less me in order to fit in.
I am scared to hope, and yet I am hopeful. I am visible in at least one place, and that is a blessing!
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