Saturday, November 5, 2011

Finding What I Wasn't Even Looking For

I found the Quakers because of James.  He and I started teaching in the General Studies Writing department at BGSU the same semester, so we were required to attend the same orientation class.  That's how we met.  A few weeks later, we were invited to a party by a mutual acquaintance, and somehow ended up spending the whole party talking about food and Quakers. In our conversation, it became clear that James and I shared a number of values about eating locally, sustainably, and practicing environmentally sound principles whenever we could.  (That night we hatched a plan for James--an apartment dweller--to bring all his food scraps to my compost pile.)

James also told me he was a Quaker.  My notion of Quakers up to that point had been informed only by television: the HBO series, Six Feet Under, had a Quaker character, and the movie Before Sunrise, discussed a Quaker wedding.  Both of these focused on the silence as the defining characteristic of a Quaker.  As James told me about Quaker worship, I said I was intrigued.  Though by this time, I had drank a few beers.  He said he'd found a group called Broadmead Friends that met in Perrysberg, but he didn't have a car, so he couldn't get to meeting.  This is when I volunteered to take him. (Again, I had had a few beers. Had I been cold-stone sober, I would have never suggested such a thing.  Organized religion!  No that is certainly not for me!)

First day rolled around, and I woke up with dread.  I did not want to go to church and be judged by the "holier-than-thous" there.  I'd been there done that before.  It was a terrible, soul-crushing experience.  Had James had any other way to get to meeting (this was before Kristin moved to Ohio)  I would have bailed.  But, a promise is a promise.  So we went.

I sat in the silence, uncomfortably thinking:  "What the hell am I doing here?"  You gave up organized religion ten-years ago, and for good reason.  What are you doing here?"

In the silence, though, the answer came to me:  "I want my life to be meaningful."

At the moment I had that realization, Judy stood up with a message.  She was quoting someone, but the basic jist of her message was spirituality is for those that refuse to believe their lives are meaningless. This was before I knew the phrase "Friend spoke my mind," so I was literally in awe.  How could there be such a unity of spirit in this place?  How could these strangers know what I was feeling/thinking?

In my first meeting for worship there was the mysterious working of the Divine, the feeling of unity, the humbling presence of the Light, and some many other things I couldn't even articulate.

At that point, I knew I belonged.  Broadmead was the spiritual home I didn't even know that I was looking for, and I was lucky enough to have found it.

So, Broadmead Friends, how did you find your spiritual home within our community?  Please post on your own blog post.  I can't wait to hear your stories.

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