by J Rourke
On my break at the coffee shop, a regular asked me to tell her about my church sometime.
“It’s Quaker, right? I’m not exactly a peaceable person, but I think I could be. I want to work on that. And Quakers are about Peace, right?”
I imagined my people, people who want to be about peace but who have also used scripture to defend violence.
I imagined my pastor, responding in a vague and open-ended kind of way, avoiding the issue without really meaning to avoid the issue.
I was reminded vividly of how we treat our own. How we fight. Our business meetings, decentered in disagreement. I thought of the way we respond to those who risk speaking out. How hard it is for us to hear each other.
I saw this sweet, loud, nurturing woman, eager to grow, seeking a community dedicated to the same self-betterment she seeks now. What would happen when it dawned on her how much of Quaker history covers over the dark side of our story.
My concerns flooding my mind, I responded, “I’d love to talk to you about my church sometime.”
Because Quaker history is not over. I’m writing it now, and so are you.
We’re not those Quakers, the ones touted in history as righteous counter-culture heroes. But we can be.
We can. And it starts where we are, right now. It starts with a posture of acceptance, by accepting that we no longer need to live in fear of the Present. That we are safe, that God is in our midst and in each of us, and we can reignite the history of Friends with our own lives in this very moment. In each moment.
Who will answer this call?
Who will hear God say, “Be still. Be not afraid,” and listen?
Who will read about Quakers who proclaimed hope, who harbored and freed slaves, who ushered in and sustained a peace throughout their time, and do likewise?
If it will happen at all, it’s up to us. It always has been.
And we can.