So, I’ve been going to a Friends Meeting for a little over a year. There are so many essentials I really resonate with, but I still am trying to figure out if I should think of myself as a Quaker. Now, the disclaimer is that this is mostly based on my experiences with one smallish group of really nice people. There is no way I’m at expert level in knowledge on this thing. But I decided I needed to make a list.
I’m not earnest enough. Really, I just can’t take things seriously enough. If there is the least bit of humor, irony, or chance at a bad pun I cannot let it pass.
I’m not educated enough. Not that I didn’t want to be, life just had other plans for me. But really, most of these people are seriously well educated, like PhD’s and such.
Although I believe in non-violence, I still like my murder mysteries and shoot-em-up Sci-Fi’s. I also have a temper. I am probably not peaceful enough.
I haven’t been that politically involved in social justice. I mean, I have been pretty much in survival mode for much of my life. I have felt the injustices of being forced out of school for being a teen mom, of being blocked from a position in a church for being a single mom, have been on welfare and food stamps, and have seen my children’s spouses deal with issues of racism and immigration, but I haven’t been an activist or anything.
After my last escape from the conformity of in institutional religion, do I really want to be committed to another institution? There is no doctrine, creed, or hierarchy, but that doesn’t mean there is anarchy. Maybe we really are all that like-minded on the essentials, but still, I thought I knew what I was doing last time. Can I trust myself not to be suck in and become a mindless follower?
I might be too wild in my heart. There is that part of me that wants to dance in the meadows. There is that still that hippy girl inside that wants wear tie-dye and twine flowers in my hair. There is also that tiny bit of kink. And it isn’t that differences aren’t allowed, they see that of God in every one. I just get the feeling that I’m expected to be a responsible grownup by now, but I feel like I’m just starting to find my free self.
I still carry too much of other beliefs with me. I still like the Bible. It isn’t that they reject the Bible, it just isn’t very significant. I carry with me a love for old hymns and newer worship songs. I still love Jesus. I even still pray in tongues to myself. And I do pray, even though my conversations with God never quite fit the mold of my old church, they are conversations and not just holding in the light. The light has long been one of the ways I feel the presence of God, so that language works for me, as well. And it isn’t like I’m going to intrude my viewpoint into their process, I don’t think that is how God works. Like, I’m not about to break a perfectly good silence to sing Amazing Grace or something. Unless I feel like the Spirit is really wanting that, which is highly unlikely. But see, all these ideas of the parts that were life and love in all my previous religious explorations, that is all still a part of who I am. And that is always going to make me feel a little bit of caution in how I word things. But being respectfully cautious seems to tread awful close to being fake or dishonest. And then we get back to that conformity thing.
I’m too selfish. If I lean into this, then I need to start finding a way to put some of my limited funds into the Quaker oats cookie jar. I need to give more time to it, too. Commitment to being a part of something means helping more, bringing snacks, doing other activities. My life is just so full, I don’t have time and energy to practice my music or write as much as I carry in my head or, oh, a zillion other things that get pushed aside to do that work thing and other responsibilities. I know that they will let me keep coming, but I will feel more and more like I’m taking more than I am giving. It is a matter of my own conscious.
Well, there it is, laid out. I think that about covers most of it. It is very likely just a matter of time before I find out I’m in the wrong place. I have a hard time explaining the things that call me back there week after week, or what I get from just quiet listening as worship. Maybe someday I’ll be able to explain it better, or maybe not. In the meantime, this obviously needs more thought.