Friday, January 08, 2010

Belonging in a Quaker Community

(This is a part of my “Top Ten things that drive me crazy about Quakers” list. from "Gregg's Gambles")

4. Why aren't U.S. Quakers exploding in growth?

Our combination of inward, deep spirituality with outward, passionate social activism is one that a postmodern world is crying out for. It drives me crazy that we aren't catching on like a contagion. Why aren't we exploding like an epidemic?

About 2 years ago, we moved and started going to this church with an amazing history reaching deep into Oregon's rather measly little past (Sorry, but when you have celebrated the 800th anniversary of a town, 100 years is like the fly on the ass of a cow as seen by a person in a car going by at 55 mph).

It was like a drink of cold refreshing water when we arrived in this town to open up this church and see what was inside.

What was inside?

A place where people valued community.
A place where people hung around with each other.
A place where people scratched their chin about their own faith, read books talked and wrote about the bible.
A place where people cared deeply about social justice issues, and how that translates into their daily lives.
A place where people did not value material garbage.
A place where there were people who spoke to you, invited you to their home and included you in the community (gasp! I didn't think people did that anymore!)
A place where people showed their understanding of their own redemption by Christ in the way they lived their lives, humbly, with love. And with a sense of humor.

I really did not think such a place existed in America. All I saw when I looked at the church were frozen chosen, very emotional charismatic worship, Joel Osteen or other figures that made me feel like I could find no common ground, and what was wrong with me? I chastised myself for being too critical, and I gave up.

So can this begin to express my relief? My joy? My sense of blessing at having found a place that if I didn't belong entirely, at least I belonged enough to want to be there, show up and be a part of what the Lord had planned. I felt blessed.

But honeymoons end. I still am grateful to have found "Friends", I am as close as I can ever be to professing a denomination, but I really do miss the cup and I will baptize my girls if they ask. (Quakers don't officially do this).

However, these Quakers, they really don't party nearly enough. Someone should tell the pastor! (tongue firmly in cheek)