I used to be a Quaker, but I quit because I didn't get much out of it. However, in recent months, I've been feeling that my outlook and values are straight out of my Quaker background. I've also been feeling surrounded by people who don't get my values. So last Sunday, I went to Quaker Meeting for the first time in over 10 years. Maybe I'll make a habit of it.
1-2 years ago, I was lost. I was depressed that my former friends had evaporated. I enjoy being alone but I don't like being frequently around someone who in subtle ways is constantly reminding me thatI am second-rate. And then I got sick. The illness helped to strengthen my depression, and yet I also see it as the turning point of coming out of my depression. As I emerged from the worst part of the illness, I also emerged from the depression.
That was one year ago that I was beginning to emerge from illness and depression. It has been more of a steady crawl than an exuberant bursting. My health does not leave me energetic, but I have re-adjusted my lifestyle, and I enjoy restful pursuits. I am no longer depressed. I am also no longer sociable. I have re-adjusted to a solitary lifestyle. Now, I walk my own path. Quiet, solitary times lead to looking inward. Many around me are dancing to a different drum than I. I just walk steadily forward on my own path.
The framework that keeps my steps on the right path is thoughts like, "How would a Quaker view this?" and "How would Grandma Lawn view this?" It's not that I am looking to external sources to guide me. It's that looking at questions such as these takes me to the part of myself where I find the serenity and strength of being true to myself.
Looking to Quakerism to find myself is not some new wisdom that I didn't have 1-2 years ago. It's that there are times when it isn't enough. Life's path traverses many different terrains and climates. There are times when the cold gusts of wind extinguish the flame. But I patiently nurtured the embers, and kept on walking, until my journey brought me to a climate where the flame could burn steadily once again.
My current sense of inner peace will not always endure. The path of life will continue to traverse many different terrains, and I will continue to weather whatever life brings.