Monday, September 18, 2006

Maybe I'm really a Quaker

No, just kidding. I'm definitely not a Quaker, though certainly I have been influenced by those good people.

We had our final Inquirers' meeting over the weekend, and to wrap up the discussion each of the eight of us who could be there (10 are actually joining--a very big number for such a small congregation) was supposed to answer these questions: What do you believe, and what do you hope to get out of being part of the community you are joining?

In 90 seconds or less? Oh, sure, no problem.

I said I believe in a loving God who is very much present in the world, and I believe if we're quiet and take time to listen, we can hear what God is saying to each of us, but if we try to relate to God only as individuals, eventually we hit the wall. Good thing I blogged about this last week so I could quote myself about needing community for inspiration, encouragement, and to be grounded in worshiping together.

Beyond that I believe in all the traditional Christian stuff and I made a sort of shorthand reference to that without really going into it, since we were sharing abridged versions of what could have been a much longer conversation. Had I spelled it all out I might have sounded less like a mainstream Quaker, but as it was my statement was something any Quaker might have said. To add to that impression, at another point in the evening when we were for some reason talking about silence, I made a comment about the special quality of shared silence. DearQuakerHusband (who was a good sport and went to this dinner session with me) teased me later, saying he never knew I was really a Quaker at heart. Hearing that, one of my fellow Inquirers said it was interesting that the two of us had never realized this before, but of course we had; I don't think we'd have made it through 27 years and 11 months together without knowing we are in the same pew, even if we worship in different churches (in my case over the past two years, many different churches!).

Those 27 years and 11 months make a good segue to two still-vivid images of my wedding day that have been much with me these past few days. The first is my first conscious thought upon waking up that morning, which was something along the lines of, Holy ***, what have I gotten myself into here!? (Note: This was not a prayer, and the substitution of *** for an actual word is not meant to signify that I am too reverent to spell out the name of God.)

The other is the moment I joined DearQuakerHusband-to-be in a room away from everyone else right before the actual ceremony. (In typical Quaker fashion, we walked in together when it was time for the wedding to begin.) In that instant, everything else in the world faded into insignificance and I was aware only of him, all dressed up in his wedding suit, his curly hair (he still had some then) turned into a halo by the sunlight behind him. Leaving that room with him was the best decision I'd made in my life up to that moment, and maybe ever since. It hasn't always been easy to be married and at times I wonder if we are strong enough to stay married, but I have never, ever doubted we were going the right way when we set out to walk through life together on that October day so long ago.

So, yes, I admit to waking up in the middle of the night last week asking myself what in heaven's name I've gotten myself into here, but then again at 10:30 am on Sunday morning I looked around the church and thought to myself that it felt very, very right--so I hope the marriage paradigm applies here.

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