taking the kids to a quaker meeting

My children accompanied me to my second unprogrammed Quaker meeting on Sunday. I admit I was nervous. I wanted them to like it as much as I did, but I knew it would be a huge difference from the Catholic service they are used to. I was also fearful of how long they could be quiet. They are 5 and 8, girl and boy. They are great kids, but one hour of silence is a lot even for me.

I needn’t have feared, they were angels! Well beyond their norm actually. The problem was that I found it very difficult to concentrate. I kept opening one eye to see what they were doing. At one point, about 15 minutes into the silence my daughter leaned over and whispered to me “when is it going to start?” Imagine trying not to laugh at that?! I was very happy when someone got up to speak. For one thing it gave the kids something to listen to and it also helped me refocused even if only briefly on God.

Most kids don’t go to the meeting I realized. As a matter of fact, on this particular Sunday mine were the only ones there. I was politely offered to take them to First Day School several times. But I really wanted them there with me experiencing this new way of expressing faith. Forty-five minutes into their excruciatingly wonderful behavior I was ready for it to end. They were getting a little squirmy, although still quiet, and I was getting nowhere with my ability to focus. I thought, “oh well, maybe I can’t do this with the kids, maybe I can only focus in pure quiet.” I was quite sure God had not been able to get through to me this day.

Or had he?

I’m a divorced mom. I see my kids half as much as I would if I were still married to their father (see why I go to a catholic church for more on that). At the same time, I’m twice as happy so I guess it’s all a trade off. This hour of quiet solitude with my kids was a blessing.

I thought back to that hour and realized that what I had been thinking about was them. And not just to monitor their noise level. I reflected on how amazingly wonderful they were behaving, how lucky I was that God gave me two such beautiful souls to raise. These are blessings I don’t count often enough. And maybe that’s what God wanted me to do on Sunday – to renew my appreciation for my kids. And to let them know it. I don’t always tell them how wonderful I think they are. I made a point that day to express how much I loved them and how proud I was of them.

My son’s comment after the meeting was “that was a wired church mom.” I laughed out loud! Ok, so it will take them a while to get used to. But I am so happy that I shared it with them.

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6 thoughts on “taking the kids to a quaker meeting

  1. Rebecca says:

    Thanks so much for this reminder of what squirmish people can bring to our worship experience. I am 17 and a member of the Religious Society of Friends. I am excited that you decided to take your kids into meeting because I think it is important for the children to experience worship as much as adults. I have been attending worship regularly for a 18 months but have grown up a Quaker. If you bring your kids back and continue attending don’t let your kids forget that they are able to attend meeting. At times I feel like kids are seen as needing to go to First Day School but it is not for everyone.

    I have appriciated your post on Quakerism and look forward to more.

    thanks
    rebecca

  2. Christine says:

    An old Quaker friend of mine once said: “Silence is not about the quiet.” How well this post reminds us all of this fact. Thank you. PS Our kids always seemed to manage amazingly well in Worship too. I love small wonders.

  3. Chris M. says:

    Thanks for letting us know your experience. It’s so good to be reminded of our blessings, especially when one has a 5-year-old and an 8-year-old! (Though in my case they’re both boys.)

    — Chris M.

  4. lynda says:

    My kids attend a Lutheran church with their Dad (I go with them sometimes). When I brought them to my unprogrammed meeting (and they would only come once), their comments where interesting. My son thought it was a hippie church and why did ALL of the men have beards? I hadn’t actually noticed that, but he was right. And my teenage daughter said she couldn’t figure out what to do with all the silence so she played Prince songs in her head. My husband didn’t like it either, so I am the lone attender, which makes me sad some Sundays when we go off to our respective churches. Other SUndays I am glad we are going off to different places, but that’s another matter!

  5. Liz Opp says:

    Jodi, thanks for taking the time to share this tender piece. It sounds like you yourself were opened a bit by the Spirit, recognizing renewed apprecation for your kids. Like Rebecca, I want to encourage you to give your kids the freedom to choose… to discern for themselves on any given First Day if they wish to go to First Day School or to Meeting for Worship. It may be that each week they attend, they will choose differently. I’m sure you will continue to find your way, and I wish you well in your continued Journey.

    Blessings,
    Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

  6. Ben says:

    When I bought my squirming, squeaking infant son to MFW the first time, he squeaked and squirmed thoughout. I felt like running out, but Something told me to stay, there, with him. After meeting, an Elder came to me and said “Never be afraid that Griffen’s noise is a problem. It is his ministry to us.”

    Now seven, Griffen sometimes prefers to spend the hour in worship with me rather than be with his friends in first day school. My daughter, four, just spent the first 15 minutes in there with me the other day, and then marched off to the nursery room by herself!

    Unprogrammed Quaker worship is unusual. All the more reason to get our kids in the room early and often! Good for you – all of you . . .

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