Coming to join the Society of Friends, or Quakers, puts me in a unique religious circle.
Here are ten examples.
- Nobody bosses me around. Well, not if the mutual discipleship we know as eldering is conducted in a loving and good order. In the old days, though, it was often quite restricting.
- Deep roots. We have a rich history, originating in the mid-1600s social and political upheavals in Britain, and a distinctive lifestyle to draw on for inspiration. Yes, lifestyle. While most Friends have dropped the distinctive Plain clothing and speech, we do hew to simplicity, honesty, integrity, equality, and non-violence in our daily lives. There are good reasons many modern Quakers drive a Prius.
- Mystical renewal. The core of Quaker worship is open worship, which is part of even pastoral Friends’ services, admittedly in a shortened form. In the traditional “silent” worship, it can be an hour of profound group meditation and rejuvenated awareness of the Holy Spirit.
- The timeless aesthetic. I hate to admit there were times in Quaker history where the restrictions would have been unbearable for me. But I am drawn to the witness that arose in it as demonstrated in the architecture of our old meetinghouses or the accounts of tender family life or the amazing prose of the ministry.
- Room to keep growing. Quaker faith is multifaceted. Spiritually, one can move about from Bible study to prayer to silent reflection to “mutual irradiation” with other faith traditions and back. Socially, there are many ways to serve within the congregation – in fact, volunteer service is crucial to the existence of the Meeting and the wider world of Friends. On top of that, our faith draws us to public witness, especially in matters of peace, equality, environmental action, and the like.
- We have only three degrees of separation – not seven. You’d be surprised how quickly you can find answers through Meeting connections.
- It’s my core community. Here are my kindred spirits, the people I respect and treasure.
- I have friends nearly everywhere. When I go to a new place, I quickly connect through Quaker Meeting – even if I’m just visiting. In fact, Friends in Cuba and Kenya open my eyes to Third World awareness.
- My family history and lost identity. When I joined Friends, I had no idea my father’s side had been Quaker from the outbreak of the movement right up to the 20th century. Reclaiming that identity gives me an internal perspective.
- Social justice issues. There’s no way I can address all of the world’s ills, but it is comforting to know that Friends are tackling key issues and deserve my support.
What do you like about your own path of faith?