I'm a conservative Friend, a specifically Christian Quaker who practices the silent waiting worship that originated among many groups seeking Truth during the English Civil War, but which was carried forward only by Friends.
I became a Friend ten years ago thinking to escape Jesus, only to be brought back full circle, but higher up and further in. Only lately have I discerned, haltingly and too often "outrunning my Guide," have I begun to discern what seems to be my true vocation.
Part of this vocation seems undeniable: the gift of creative writing, lost or take away 20 years ago, has been given back to me more powerful than when I left it, although, of course, I must work hard to recover the techniques I practiced only in distorted fashion as I labored instead in the dark, Satanic mills of Silicon Valley.
It's the other part that's scary. When I first became a Friend, three verses from the book of Jeremiah took up residence in my heart and in my mind, a kind of spirit-worm, if you will. Now they seem to be bearing fruit, or compelling me in a not yet clear direction.
I won't say much more about this, preferring to let Jeremiah speak for me, except to underscore my understanding that we cannot discern where ruach blows save in community, in which I am doubly blessed: first in the woman in whom my soul delights, a faithful child of Abraham, and the family she brought to me; and second, in my blessed community among Friends.
O Eternal One, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived;
Thou art stronger than I, and thou hast prevailed.
I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me.
For whenever I speak, I cry out,
I shout, "Violence and destruction!"
The word of the Eternal has become for me
A reproach and derision all day long.
But if I say, "I will not mention him,
Or speak any more in his name,"
There is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones,
And I am weary with holding it in,
And I cannot.
Jeremiah 20:7-9 (RSV, paraphrased)