Friday, 16 May 2014

A while back, Maurice gave a personal view of what it means to be a Quaker. I agree it would be good if different Friends would have a go at expressing their own views on this. I’ve taken up his challenge.

I felt even more that I should follow this leading when I turned the page from Maurice’s article in Sheffield Quaker News (essentially the same as his blog) and read, in another article, an encouragement to try the website for Cape Cod Quakers ( as a good general account of Quaker ways. I myself visited one of those meeting houses, a quaint little building, many years ago, soon after I started attending meeting in Sheffield.  This chimed in, with strange co-incidence, with a book I was reading at the same time. I will give that a recommendation in passing too.  It’s quite a long novel, by Geoffrey Eugenides, called the Marriage Plot. Amongst other things, it is about a young man’s spiritual journey. The final part - quite out of the blue! – starts with the words ‘There were a lot of things to admire about the Quakers’. He finds some peace and a welcome haven in the Quaker Meeting of Prettybrook, New Jersey. (see the Friend 10.08.2012)

I love ‘happy co-incidences’ or synchronicity. I believe that life does make meaningful shapes around us. Such is the experience of a powerful MfW, when the spoken ministry of others chimes perfectly into what you yourself need, whether you knew it or not.

Community is for me a very important part of being a Quaker. It’s about being with others, with a sense of shared purpose and commitment. We don’t all see things exactly the same but there is a bedrock of shared values. We want to come together regularly to worship and, growing out of the worship, to create a happy and active community. Quaker work, eg on committees, is primarily a further way of building the community.

I love the Quaker tolerance for uncertainty – or recognition that life is complicated and ever-changing.  I love the Quaker instinct for a great metaphor to try to give some sense to the ineffable: ‘Please be patient those of you who have found a rock to stand on, with those of us who haven’t and with those who are not even looking for one. We live on the wave’s edge, where sea, sand and sky are all mixed up together: we are tossed head over the heels in the surf, catching only occasional glimpses of any fixed horizon. Some of us stay there from choice because it is exciting and it feels like the right place to be.’ (QFP 20.06)

I am one of those who can only really make any sense of the notion of God, when it’s put into the human context – how we love and care for each other, how we live our lives in community. Being part of Sheffield Central Quaker Meeting is, for me, ‘exciting’ and ‘like the right place to be’.                                           

1 comment:

S Fred Langridge said...

Thanks for writing this, Laura.