My son and I arose early this Sunday morning to attend a Quaker service. I’d not ever been to a Friends Meeting before. There were no pews, no alter, no crucifix, not even a minister per se. Congregants entered the meeting house quietly, taking their seats in straight backed chairs. Taking our cue from those surrounding us, we closed our eyes. Silence enveloped us like soft cushions from a comfy couch. Our bodies, seldom accustomed to stillness, began to fidget. Our spirits, however, empowered by the quiet, urged our bodies to be hushed. Thoughts percolated up from somewhere within, “thoughts” I might prefer to call inspirations. “What should the next chapter of my Lady Boomer’s “Coloring Book” be called?”
The Quaker house is located in a downtown area near where my mother was raised. I was suffused with memories of her- I guess because of the proximity of this place to where she grew up. She died at 50, twenty-seven years ago, when I was 30. My son apparently had been thinking of her as well. He was nine months old and never knew her. Leaving the church, we drove to the house she once lived in with her domineering grandmother. Nuggets of family lore got shared, some of which were memories I’d pushed down for years. I loved the fact he was eager to know more about this side of our family who were of such humble origins. He was moved by the humility of the Quaker service; its stark simplicity. He appreciated the opportunity to listen to himself. He’s just completed five years of graduate school during which time there had been little if any time to commune and contemplate.
We plan to return to this meeting place. I like the idea of meeting myself there. It is somewhat paradoxical that the silence we encounter informs us of our own goodness while the humility prevents us from shouting our greatness aloud.