Quakers believe that there is ‘that of God’ in everyone. Some don’t use the word God, but the basic belief is the same. My form of Quakerism is unprogrammed; that is, we sit in silence trying to quiet our minds, waiting for God to enter. It’s sometimes frustrating and sometimes boring, but every once in a while it is gloriously transforming.
Our formal name is The Religious Society of Friends. We call each other Friend. And no, we don’t make the oats.
I’m a transplanted American with an Irish passport, living in Belgium – between Germany, France and The Netherlands – in an area where three cultures clash and co-exist. I used to have a stress-filled life, working as a management consultant all over the US and Canada. In 2001, my husband and I quit our jobs and moved to Europe. We came here for two or three years. We’re still here. In that time, I have taught English as a second language, become a Quaker, done volunteer work with refugees and become certified as a chocolate taster and judge.
I grew up in a religious family, in a faith that was very dogmatic. I was told what I believed, and that if I doubted any of it I would go to hell. I can only speak for myself, but trying to live that faith was hell itself. My response was to throw it all away. But I always believed in a greater good-ness, something more powerful than me, something that was about justice and good-ness and fairness. I call that God.
In university I tried out various faiths, and couldn’t find one whose image of God fit with my own innate sense of God. I stopped looking, and instead turned to psychology and science and to the pursuit of success.
This worked for me for a while, providing a measure of comfort but not fulfillment. It fed my ego but not my spirit. At a low point, broken by the drive for success, I began a spiritual journey that has brought me here. Along the way, I found a faith whose idea of God fit with mine: the Quakers. It’s ironic, because for many years I had joked that if anyone held a gun to my head and made me choose a religion it would be Quakers.
So here I am. In order to grow as a Quaker and to respond to the inner voice calling to me I joined a two-year course entitled “Equipping for Ministry”, designed to help find the ‘right work’ for each of us. Over the time of this course, I have found that there is a quiet voice speaking to me, and often through me. This blog is my way of letting that voice reach the ones who need to hear it.