Recently, I’ve been going to Quaker meetings.
At a meeting, attendees sit in silence on chairs. The Galway meeting is small and the chairs are arranged in a circle around a table. On the table is usually a candle, a bible, some books on Quakerism and sometimes a bunch of flowers. The silence is immense. It is a very full silence. I find it holds me when I’m there. Sometimes members speak. I listen to their words and usually I hear something I wouldn’t have heard or thought before. The meeting lasts for an hour and at the end of the hour, everyone stands up and shakes hands. Then we sit and news is shared.
I have been to a few meetings in Galway and I have also been to a meeting in Dublin a couple of times. The tradition is rooted in Christianity. That’s no longer an issue for me however I have wondered if it would be an issue for the other people there. I was chatting on Facebook with a gay druid friend and he asked me if Quakers were open to animist, polytheist LGBT people. I don’t know. I enjoy animism and polytheism as much as the next man but I don’t know what Quakers would say. But then again, does it matter? I have a sense of something very strong and open in the tradition.
Last year I gave my contact details to the man who facilitates the Quaker meetings in Galway. “I don’t identify as Quaker”, I said “is that okay?”. It seems to be so far. At the last meeting I asked if I could bring a book home to read.
I don’t know where this journey is taking me. I don’t know if this is something I want to commit to or join up. What I do know is I’m going to be at a meeting on Sunday. And again the following week. The experience is too special to miss.