Regular readers may recognize us as the couple that got married in the bookstore. We recently moved due to a job change. It was a difficult decision to leave such a tight knit community of loving friends. But change comes for us all and so it has come for us.
One of the most joyful things the little bookstore community brought us was our monthly Quaker meetings. As mentioned before we chose a Quaker meeting for our wedding. Most of our friends find it baffling that we enjoy sitting in dead silence for an hour, but we can’t think of a better way to find peace in the stressful life we lead. So finding a Quaker meeting was top on our list for the move. We earmarked this past weekend for a trip to the Columbia meeting 40 minutes down the road.
That morning we were raring to go, but on the drive we were wracked with doubts. What do we really know about this meeting? It’s in a church. What if it’s “churchy”? We did a quick google search for “Quakers” to get a feel for what we could expect, and found this troubling statistic: “90% of meetings are programmed worship”. This means standing, singing … in others words “churchy”! They probably meet in the sanctuary – pews, altar and all…we pretty well worked each other into an anxiety-ridden frenzy convinced this would be a disaster. Were we prepared to sit through church, or worse yet walk out?
At the run-down church building, the engraved sign read “unprogrammed worship”. A collective sigh of relief filled the car. The first friends arrived a few moments later in their hybrid car. The woman, wearing a comfy crocheted sweater put me in mind of Wendy who often attended still in her pajama pants and cozy slippers. NB from Wendy: I don’t remember pajama bottoms but it’s a fair cop on the slippers.
We were welcomed with open arms.
The woman told us how the building had been donated by the Methodist church, along with a hefty sum to renovate. She was particularly proud of the energy efficient LED lighting. A back room held a loom where salvaged fabric was being made into rugs. You could see their lovely garden from the window. The sanctuary had been modified too, the altar removed and the pews in concentric squares facing the center of the room. Shortly after, a man arrived with a small vase of flowers and set it as the central focus point.
And just like that, we were home. The Quakers began filing in – all walks of life, young, older, teenagers, some children, but all with the joy and friendliness we have come to appreciate and foster in ourselves. It seems we haven’t left our tight knit community after all. Rather we’ve opened the door to a world wide community that will follow us wherever we go. We are eternally grateful to Jack and Wendy, the little bookstore, and the Big Stone Friends for that opportunity.