A Quaker Meeting Of Friends MAG

By Unknown, Unknown, Unknown

   Every one of the forty people at the meeting had taken off their snow boots as they entered the front door of the old townhouse on Beacon Hill. Coats and scarves were hung in a large closet, and one by one the people walk silently down to the meeting room where benches were set up in a circular arrangement. Within ten minutes the room seemed quite full.

Many kinds of people attend these meetings every Sunday morning. Several elderly couples are there, although the majority are under fifty. Two wear identical red and blue sweaters. Since all have taken off their boots, the colors of people's socks are noticeable. One woman with curly red hair has bright yellow, green and red plaid socks.

As the Quaker meeting waits upon the Lord in silence, there is no altar, no liturgy, no pulpit, no sermon, no organ, no choir, no sacrament and no person in authority. Worship is directed neither toward the actions nor the words of others, but toward the inward experience of the gathered group. As the worshipers sit together in silence, anyone may find a message arising in his consciousness which he feels is meant for more than him. It is then his obligation to deliver that message. There are no rules, and the Quakers believe the spirit leads where it will. In general, the spoken word is a simple affirmation or truth rather than an argumentative defense. After the verbal message is delivered, silence follows, giving an opportunity for the listeners to interpret further what was said .

Thick, dark wood frames the several panes of glass of a great window, attracting the gazes of most. Through this extraordinarily large window the gently falling snow can be seen resting on the branches of the bare trees in the courtyard of the old house. The window is high so everyone must look up to see out. Nobody speaks. Although silence prevails, some kind of communication seems apparent. As everyone stares at this beautiful scene, a kind of agreement about its beauty seems to unify them. The relaxed, calm atmosphere in the room is very soothing. Several people close their eyes.

The still soundlessness remains for five minutes until a young man abruptly stands and speaks energetically. "I have recently been able to turn my life around. I have tried before, but never had the courage to go through with it. I failed several times. However, in the last few months I have tried very hard and succeeded." This eager man continues, looking at the other men and women. He expresses himself well, yet it is clear that what he is saying has not been rehearsed. He fumbles for a word, and then he takes back a previously stated idea. It seems evident that he is completely honest, saying exactly what comes to his mind. Everybody listens intently. After a few minutes, the man sits and a calm hush returns.

Ten minutes later a grey-haired woman stands and talks. She speaks of the wondrous beauty of the snow. She compares the falling snow to her life, and then to everybody's life. She talks quickly and does not seem as confident as the man. She sits abruptly and once again there is silence.

Throughout the meeting, which lasts about an hour, seven people stand and share something they thought was their duty to share. One lady recites a kind of poem, another says a prayer, and several others speak briefly about their lives. After the last person finishes, a spirited young man stands and officially ends the meeting. He says, "The meeting is now over. We will now go around the room and introduce ourselves. In addition, if anyone has any announcements, feel free to speak up."

People seem to awaken from a trance. Conversation fills the room and the young man must quiet everyone so they can listen to the introductions. The first woman says she lives in the South End, and has been coming to these meetings for five years. After each introduction a small pause follows until the next speaks. If anyone says this is the first time they've attended, everyone says "Welcome." The introductions are casual and all try to make everybody feel comfortable. Only one announcement is made: the clothing drive is still in progress. After the announcement and introductions, the young man thanks everyone and dismisses them to the next room for refreshments. Several people leave immediately, however most stay for a cup of coffee, tea, or hot cocoa.

A chorus of many different voices can be heard as polite conversations develop. Gradually people begin to leave. After the last few people climb the wide staircase to the softly carpeted hallway, once again silence returns to the meeting room. Through the window the snow still gently falls in the courtyard. n

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This article has 2 comments.

i love this so much!

on Jun. 27 2013 at 8:27 pm
readlovewrite SILVER, Greensboro, North Carolina
7 articles 1 photo 58 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Be quick to listen, and slow to speak, and even slower to judge."

The first day I attended a quaker meeting was almost eight years ago, and it sounds very similar - if slightly larger than - to the one you discribed.  This is a great piece of writing and your discriptions seem very acurate!


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