31st May 2023
I learned of the Quakers from my mother when I as a young girl when she vaguely (and incorrectly) referenced a group of people who were Christians and pacifists who ‘lived in America’. And that was about as much as I thought about the Quakers and Quakerism for the next few years.
Later, whenever I mentioned the Quakers to anyone, they would, once again, vaguely and incorrectly mumble something about a film with Kelly McGillis and Harrison Ford in the 80s, but that was about as far as it got. And so, life moved me on.
As I got into my forties and then on into my fifties, I found myself once again searching for something in my life particularly as I had gone through an especially painful and stressful time with a father who was suffering from dementia and a mother who was bipolar. After I lost them both within a short time span, I found myself turning to Quakerism to find some order and meaning to the mess my life had become.
And boy did I find an answer.
Here was a way of life that listened instead of talked, a way of life that looked to the divine in all of us and the divinity around us, rather than dogma and preaching, a way that let me make the decisions and take responsibility, a way that helped me to sit in stillness and peace and that let me dive deep into my feelings of loss and loneliness, that took me to the centre of all my fears and then equipped me with the strength to face my feelings and move into, for want of a better word, the light.
Someone recently asked me how I managed to sit for sixty minutes in silence in a room full of strangers. How do I block out the noise in a world that doesn’t seem to stop shouting? Well, it’s not easy, I admit. Sometimes, it is incredibly hard but there is so much strength in silence and so much to be discovered about yourself when the noise finally stops that it is well worth the effort. And as for the strangers, well not strangers – but friends. And that is what I love about being a Quaker, wherever I go, if I meet another Quaker, then I meet a friend.
I am still at the beginning of my journey as a Quaker and there is so much more to learn but as someone said to me at a meeting recently, when I mentioned that I was raised a Protestant, they said, ‘You’ve always been a Quaker, you just didn’t know it’.
Jane Nethercott – Stockport Quaker Meeting