Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Come Together, Right Now

One of the best things about having friends come to visit is that I get to feel like I am on vacation too while they are here. My friend Sarah H came to stay with me for the weekend and I we had such a good time!

I had heard about Sarah long before I met her. Sarah is also a member of Freedom Friends Church, but we missed each other by a few months because she started attending Freedom Friends a few months after I moved to Seattle. We finally met at the Quaker Women's Theology Conference and I have been lucky enough to see her several times since then.

Sarah came up to Seattle to spread the word about the Quaker Youth Book Project. She is a member of the very impressive editorial board for the project and they are all going out to various meetings and churches to inform Friends age 15 to 35 about how to submit their writing, art, and photography for publication.

Sarah was elated when she found out that another member of the editorial board, Katrina M, is now living in Seattle. I am always happy to meet friends of friends, so we all congregated at my house on Friday night and went out for Chinese food. Because all Quakers know each other within a degree or two, I shouldn't have been surprised that Katrina is also friends with my roommate.

The next day, Sarah, Katrina, Katrina's cousin Erica, my roommate, and I all headed downtown to go on the underground tour. We all enjoyed learning about the history of Seattle, but I think the funniest moment for us was when our tour guide turned to my roommate and said, "You know, I went to a Quaker college and just about all of the guys there had a beard like yours." Sarah responded, "We're all Quakers!" and Katrina quickly established that she and the tour guide knew the same family in Indiana.

After the tour was over, I left Sarah to wander around downtown and went to catch the bus to go to choir practice. As I was leaving, I stopped to thank the tour guide and overheard him telling a friend about the Quaker connection.

On the bus a few minutes later, I couldn't stop smiling. I was amused by the proof that the Quaker world was so small, and happy to spend time with Sarah, but I was also filled with a greater sense of joy. It is so comforting to me to spend time with other Quakers my own age. It makes me feel less alone or crazy to talk with others about how God influences their decisions and to hear them talk in terms of callings and leadings. These are people who care about the future of the Religious Society of Friends and their place in it. It is also pretty fun to spend time with others who get as excited as I do about a local band singing about Mary Dyer!

The next night, I hosted a potluck for Young Adult Friends so that Sarah could tell them about the book project. We got started talking about upcoming events and I mentioned the FWCC Annual Meeting and the Convergent Friends gathering that I am planning to attend. One of the YAFs commented that I seemed really involved and my roommate quipped that I am a Quaker lightning rod. Sarah thought that was hilarious and referred to me as a Quaker lightning rod for the rest of the weekend.

At first, I wasn't sure how I felt about being compared to a lightning rod. It is flattering, but attracting lightning seems a little on the dangerous side. And I have been getting more attention lately than I really feel comfortable with. But at the same time, it is exciting to be the conduit for people to come together, like Friends did over the weekend.

I have decided that I do like the analogy, though, because for a lightning rod to work correctly, it has to be grounded. I was thinking about that today and feeling grateful for all of the things in my life that keep me grounded. I am blessed to have the help of generous friends, a strong family, two active faith communities, and an incredible God to keep my feet on the ground. With all of that to rely on, I feel ready to face the storms ahead.

[For pictures of our adventures, see Sarah's blog post about her trip]


  1. Ashley,
    That weekend was so much fun and I also feel lucky to have spent the time with you. Thank you so much! I, myself, really liked being the conduit for Katrina to connect with other Quaker young adults in the area such as yourself. Like you, it felt really good to hang out with other young adults my age also active in the Quaker world. It was very refreshing!

  2. I love Quakers. =)

    I think the lightning rod image is great; stick with it! I sometimes think of my role in the Quaker world - I'm not sure if lightning rod is the right word for me though! In the past I've certainly felt connected to lots of Quakers. I feel pretty disconnected right now (from my age group anyway).

  3. Sarah - I'm glad you had fun and thank you for introducing me to Katrina. I hope that she and I get to see each other a lot more while she is here.

    Aimee - It's good to hear from you and I am sorry to hear that you feel so disconnected right now. Maybe you and Jeremy should come home! I'm only somewhat kidding -- I know you would miss your garden and root cellar, but I think a lot of people around here would be glad to have you back!


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