lament the passing of that first blush of convincement to Quakerism;
especially since I never recorded it. I know that it is no longer
possible to reconstruct that early, wonderful excitement at having,
finally, discovered a spiritual home.
I was young then and my wife and I had
small children. My days were filled with attending to their needs.
Sundays after meeting were always busy. I could never seem to carve out
enough time in my busy life to write down my impressions and feelings
about what had occurred during meeting for worship.
All this was true enough ... still I
would urge those of you who are new to a religion to find the time to
record your thoughts. Think of it as a way of writing yourself a letter
along some distant day.
Like so many others, when I first stepped
into a meeting house, I discovered I had always been a Quaker. Quakerism
had somehow been locked inside, inarticulately upon itself. It awaited
that particular day to be released. Even though I've seen this happen
repeatedly to other people, it still remains a mystery to me.
I had never experienced anything like
meeting for worship before. Almost from the first moment I sat down, I
went into a depth of silence. It surrounded me, warmed me, and lifted me
up. It was as if I had somehow entered God's home and was quietly,
lovingly being welcomed. Even though this alone was a consuming
experience, there was more to come -- much more.
Before I knew it, people began to stand
and speak from the depth of that silence. Some of their voices were
barely above a whisper, while others boomed their messages loudly enough
to shake the very walls of the meeting house.
There was an old man with a ruddy
complexion exactly as I had pictures all Quakers, and a young woman with
long hair neatly tied in a bun on top of her head. But for all their
differences, they had one thing in common; they were all speaking
directly to me.
Their thoughts were my thoughts and they
were being spoken out loud. I knew, almost immediately that I had, at
long last, found a spiritual home.
Before going to my first meeting I knew I
had the love of a woman with whom I was sharing my life. We had been
married for ten years, and it was clear by then that she was the light
of my life.
We also had two wonderful children and a
third on the way. The first two had shown me that children can open the
way to an entirely new kind of love. I was clearly a lucky man to have
love and be loved. Still there was an indescribable void: an emptiness.
There was clearly something missing. I
knew that, intuitively. That third kind of love, which I so desperately
needed, began to take shape on that August morning, twenty-five years
ago. God's love started becoming tangible for me in these people; the
people of the meeting.
As I close out the sixth decade of my
life, I have no idea what to expect from the next one. But if the last
ten years are a yardstick by which to measure the next ten, one thing is
clear; time will continue to erode my memory.
Therefore, I need to record my thoughts
about the people of our meeting; people who have provided me with so
many defining moments in my life. And I need to do this before my
memories become so deeply buried that I can no longer reach them.
to Friends' Writings