My name’s Paul, most days.
I’ve been attending silent worship with the Religious Society of Friends — the Quakers, the unprogrammed kind — since I was two weeks old. I’m told that I was pretty quiet in my first meeting, and generally I’ve been likewise silent ever since.
Unprogrammed Quakers, you see, have a simple act of worship: we sit and wait. Sometimes it’s called “expectant worship” instead of “silent worship.” No pastor, no liturgy, no plan. Occasionally we read out the queries — questions and suggestions — to start us thinking; most days we just wait. Waiting for the Holy to move us to speak. We don’t say anything until we’re sure that it’s not us that wants to speak, but Someone Else telling us to.
It’s an intense process. We got our name, Quakers, from the way we’d shake when we felt that Presence moving. And we don’t break the silence for small things.
So when I was moved to speak not just to one meeting but to the world, I put that leading to the test, in good old Quaker language. I waited to see if the leading remained. It did. I talked it over with my family, and others in my meeting. They agreed I had something to say. And then I waited some more.
It’s been about thirteen years now, and I can wait no more. So here I am.
I don’t mean to be a major presence in this. The words, if I’m doing it right, aren’t really mine; I’m just the errand boy bringing them. But it’s important to know who carries your messages, even if he’s not the origin, so: a brief biographical sketch.
I was born in California, and I’ve spent most of my life on the West Coast. I attended college for five years in Indiana, but couldn’t take the flatness, so I’m back in the Pacific Northwest between the mountains and the sea. I’ve been Quaker all my life, but didn’t accept it automatically. I’ve been telling stories since I could talk.