Becoming visible

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!

A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.

2 thoughts on “Becoming visible

  1. Hey KJ, glad you are having such good experiences at Meeting for Worship. While not from the same background as you — I grew up in a plain vanilla Presbyterian church, so I didn’t so much escape as just move on — I have found my home among Friends for around 40 years now.

    As to the issue of what it means to be a Christian, I’ve given it a lot of thought also. My conclusions may be different from yours, but if it helps to consider someone else’s, here they are:

    and there is another side to this also:

    I did not write the second piece; I reprinted it, with permission. Not only does it say something important and profound, it also goes to show how deeply many people are re-considering the meaning of being a Christian.

    • Thank you so much for these eloquent commentaries on being a Christian. Your first piece touched me very deeply because I find myself agreeing to the points you make. This is indeed where I find myself. I have tried to find a spiritual home in other places, but there is something about Christ and therefore about Christianity that always calls me back, even though I do not fit (at all) within the mainstream definition of Christianity in our country. I bring pieces of these other traditions (yoga, Buddhism, and even shamanism) with me, but at my roots, I am a Christian because of Christ. The Quaker tradition of valuing each person’s Inner Light feels more authentically true to my own experience of the moving of the Spirit, and I am very hopeful that this can help me find a community of sojourners on my own journey of faith.

      Your second piece with the reprint was incredibly moving and healing, and I am grateful to you for sharing it. I grieve to see how many have been wounded (myself included) by Christians, and I am grateful to those who are trying to mend those wounds.

      Thank you so much for these resources and for reaching out as a Friend. I am very moved by your testimony, and it gives me great hope that I can find a home with the Friends.

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