Going To Quaker Meeting

A moth about a quarter of an inch long on the railing next to me when Jon and I went out to breakfast

Yesterday Jon and I went to a Quaker Memorial for a friend.  This morning Jon and I went to Quaker Meeting and we both decided we wanted to go back.

This is how it happens.

Jon has been a Quaker since he first went to a meeting when he was a kid.  I’d only been once, over ten years ago.

But when Jon said he wanted to go today, I was happy to go with him.  I remembered the one time I’d been there it was like an hour-long meditation.  And that’s something that appeals to me.

This morning, I sat on a bench in the small meeting house built in 1838.  The bare walls and ceiling painted white, the wooden benches a grayish-blue. There was a wood stove with a simple black metal rail around it and a blackboard naming the keeper of the fire towards the back wall.  The big multipaned windows looked out on trees and both doors stood wide open.

There were seven or eight people already seated when we got there.  We chose a bench with a cushion on it, social distancing.  We sat down without a word and I closed my eyes.

Within moments, I felt my chest and abdomen swell with warmth and my eyes fill with tears.

I wasn’t surprised.  I knew I was feeling the energy of the space and the people who have and still do inhabit it.  Almost 200 years of people meeting in silence.  People with values such as listening,  non-violence, and helping others.

That feeling lasted a couple of minutes.  Then it was just me inside my body again. But I felt something I usually don’t gathered in place with people I don’t know.  I felt welcomed and safe.

As we drove home, Jon talked about how Quaker Meeting is different from the Temple he went to as a kid and the Church I did.   How things are straightforward, without confusing symbols and metaphors. You don’t even have to believe in God.

“I’m the kind of person who’s always getting into trouble in places like that,”  Jon said.  “Saying or doing the “wrong” thing.”

“And I’m the kind of person who’s always afraid of getting in trouble,” I said.

But I didn’t feel any of that in the small wooden building or from any of the people who sat with us.   I could walk into the meeting late and leave early and it would be fine. No one was going to tell me how or where to sit and more importantly, what to say or think.

Mostly I felt peaceful when I left the meeting.  And I’m still feeling some of that as I write this.

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