When Reno Friends gathered for a spirituality workshop last month, one of the most revealing questions to the group was “What keeps you from committing your life more deeply to Friends’ practices and the Quaker Way of life?”
The first time people attend a Quaker Meeting, they often find Silent Worship mystifying. It looks like nothing is happening, and that there’s no apparent reason why everyone has gathered. There’s no minister guiding the worship, no liturgy lending structure, no music filling the soul. There are just Friends, each head down in her or his own private silence.
Every fall the Reno Friends head to Grover Hot Springs State Park near Markleeville, California, for a weekend camping trip. We hike, swim in the hot springs pool, huddle in tents when it rains, and cook epic meals over bonfires. Most important, we talk — sometimes casually, sometimes with intensity. For a group that worships in silence, our time together around the campfire feels precious and important.
Recently a Reno Friend offered the Meeting a large photograph of a maple leaf. It was a vivid image, the veins of the leaf quite pronounced, branching and spreading in all directions. The Friend told us she became attached to the image after another Reno Friend suggested the leaf illustrated that there are many paths to God. Her hope was that we would hang the painting in the Meeting House.
When my husband and I moved to Reno seven years ago, we went searching for a spiritual community online….
I checked out several different religious websites, but was attracted to Reno Friends Meeting by the personal feel of its site. There were bios of attenders, welcoming faces, and a treasure trove of material on Quakerism. We went to Silent Worship the next weekend and have been attending ever since.