Finding Friends

By Hayley Fern

At all of my first dozen meetings, someone new has asked me how I came to discover Quakers.  My reply is always the same: I happened to read a book which talked about it with such agreeable descriptions that I became curious.  The book was Notes from an Exhibition by Patrick Gale.  As a visual artist my reasons for picking it up were to do with art.  What I actually got from it was much more.

Being accustomed to the internet, one’s easy access to information, I quickly found the Quakers online and applied for an introductory pack.  Delighted to receive a whole package of small books and leaflets I soon found that what I was reading was actually a description of who I already was.  In fact, it was who we all were: my husband, my children and I.  It described our ethos, our attitude, our lifestyle, and our beliefs. 

Next, my first meeting; I had seen the A-board outside the meeting before, inviting in visitors and friends but I had never ventured inside.  I went alone and was greeted with incredible warmth – the only way to describe it is to say that everyone treated me as a new friend.  I still find that name utterly appropriate and appealing.  I have always considered my role on the planet to be a friend, a friend to others; a friend to the earth.  Being called a friend is part of this journey and part of who I am. 

Finally: the silence.  It is almost impossible to describe how powerful this simple silence is.  Sometimes I treat is as prayer, sometimes as space.  I am learning how to hold someone in the light, which is just beautiful.  Not being led, conducted or taught allows for a freedom I have never before experienced.  Before this, how often did I just be still, waiting for the silent voice of God?

So, I am a newbie, dipping my feet in the water and trying out a few chairs at meetings.  Being in my thirties, I am not the youngest or the oldest to appear in this place. And, I am still to completely grasp the way this quiet organisation conducts itself and finds the balance between structure and nonconformity.  I know that I will continue meeting for silent worship because it works for me.  I know I will learn and grow and eventually understand everything I need to.  But, the main thing for me is that I am already a friend.  It just took me a while to find everyone else!


A bee reaching for a flower. Photo: aussiegall/flickr CC

Photo: Aussiegall flickr/CC

One thought on “Finding Friends

  1. I loved reading about how you found Friends Hayley, it puts into words many feelings I share. I found Friends over 20 years ago and am still as glad, being a Friend has changed my life in so many ways for the better.

Leave a Reply