The typical question is, “What kind of Quaker are you?”
I find this question to be in the realm of the four-year-asking,”Where did I come from?” Or even a little like, “When did your husband stop complaining about your cooking?” (I cleaned that up, but hey, it’s a family blog.)
I find being a Quaker an easy thing and a very complex thing and sometimes a complete challenge. It depends upon the moment.
I think most non-Quakers are genuinely curious about someone who decided late in life to finally capitulate and go for the full, card-carrying, secret handshake (not-really) Membership. (For those of you who are not Quakers, many people are life-long Attendee’s, without ever requesting membership. And that is fine with all of us.)
I have this very Peaceable heart and still have to struggle with non-gentle thoughts. I totally agree with Equality for all mankind, without concern for individual preferences (education, sexuality, titles, bank accounts), and then find myself aware of needing to have a fuller understanding of where an individual person is coming from. Integrity and truthfulness are not a problem, until someone is not truthful with me. Oops, did I say I struggle with a gentle, peaceful mindset and heart? As for Simplicity, I need to compost more, but most likely my home would be grateful if I didn’t fill up every available cubby hole, thinking “I can re-use/recycle/re-gift/relegate etc. Community building is a given, even with my penchant for shyness for inserting myself into others’ endeavors.
My Convergent and Programmed F/friends will chide me for not mentioning my relationship with the Divine. My unprogrammed F/friends will completely understand why I chose to illuminate the Testimonies of being Quaker rather than my Spiritual side.
So there you have a snapshot of my answer to the kind of Quaker I am. I would certainly like to do better. It’s a good thing to have aspirations.
It is also a little illumination, I suspect, on how individual Quakers approach trying to tell folks about being a Quaker, without giving the 350 year history from George Fox and Margaret Fell to present day. It also is a way of indicating that there is a division within the whole of the Quaker community about Spirituality and Divinity.
And, it also gives someone who doesn’t know much about current Quakers the idea that if you want to participate with Quakers, they are most welcoming. Non-judgemental. Quiet. Reserved. And very talkative. Readers. Nature lovers. Seekers: spirituality and simplicity. And do not have very good signage to their Meetings. So the saying goes, “You have to really want to be a Quaker.”
Well it’s a start. I will continue this “exploration” in more posts. In the meantime, “No, I don’t wear funny under clothes.” And “Yes, I do eat oatmeal.”
Did you know that Judi Dench and Julian Bond are both Quakers?