I have found over the years that there is a certain lack of common knowledge about who Quakers are. No, we're not the celibate Shakers, nor the Ludditely Amish or Mennonites. Or a guy who markets oatmeal in an old-fashioned hat.
Friends have a long history - over 350 years - and much has been written about them. George Fox founded the Society of Friends in England, and it soon spread to America. William Penn was one.
The branch of Friends that I belong to and the Meeting I attend features unprogrammed worship.
Friends are a tolerant bunch and, while it is at base a Christian faith, no one is quizzed on their individual belief system. One might be listening for a message from God, another for a message from Spirit, another for a message from within, and another might be mindfully meditating. All are welcome. If someone feels moved to share a message, she or he stands, speaks, and then sits.
That's it. We have First Day School for the children, fellowship and refreshments, and a monthly business meeting. We hold peace vigils as well as social potlucks.
Historically, Friends have been rabble-rousers in the name of peace and equality. Mary Dyer was
|John Greenleaf Whittier|
I came to Friends as an adult. I find that quiet individual worship in community suits me, as do the Testimonies. Being a Quaker seems to suit Lauren, too. She often takes a moment to hold someone in the Light or to center herself before heading into a difficult or dangerous situation. Being a Friend is not for everyone, though. I knew someone raised as a high Episcopalian and he really couldn't handle all the silence. When I visited his church, I couldn't take all the busyness!
Did you know what Quakerism meant? If you have ever sat in silent Meeting for Worship, how was it for you? Or do you prefer to meditate alone?