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.