At the bottom of this post is a link to a heartfelt post by a convinced Quaker. A convinced Quaker is one who has come from outside the sect. In this person’s case it evidently was from Catholicism. This post struck me deeply as I saw myself in much of Laura’s writing. For those not going to the original post here are a couple of quotes that I want to comment on:
“Hard” was life before I learned about Quakerism. “Hard” was wondering how to handle a violent situation in a compassionate manner and thinking I was the only person in the world who had grappled with such an issue. “Hard” was feeling completely alone amongst friends, unable to shake the conviction that something was wrong with spending hundreds of dollars on entertainment and thinking I was doomed to be a social outcast forever because I felt that way. “Hard” was taking every word that came out of my mouth seriously, really thinking about speaking the truth and speaking kindness, and believing that I was peculiar and alone for being so serious about everything.
“Hard” was trying to live up to the light in me without even knowing that the light was there. Without knowing that others were on the same path as me, that there was a meeting of people who sought the same things I sought, who could comfort and support me in my time of need. Without knowing there was a long, rich tradition of writing about the very questions I had. Without a weekly meeting to be enveloped and nourished in corporate worship. Those days were very hard indeed, and I don’t want to go back to them.
I, like this convinced Quaker, have struggled with some of my feelings about violence in all its forms, extravagant spending on “entertainment” , Christian organizations that spend almost all their resources on themselves, and other such things. It seemed like the Christian organizations I was in for some time were more focused on a future life in heaven than one here or earth. So, to my total disappointment these types of matters did not come up very frequently.
One of the foundational concept of Quakerism is “living up to the light” this comes from the words of Jesus at Matt 5:14-16
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Quakers believe that everyone has light from God shining in their lives. Some never allow it to even get to the surface but it is there none the less. I have come to be very much aligned with the concept of the light within each of us. It should be our task everyday of our lives to let the Lord’s light shine in our lives so that others can realize what being a Christian is really all about. It is not about hunkering down in our churches waiting for the end. It is about living day-to-day. Living my life in a Christian organization that did not follow through on that very basic concept was indeed a very hard thing.