I recently wrote about my first meeting with the Kheprw Institute (KI) community. Thinking back on that life-changing meeting, after Imhotep drew the initial response from me about Quakers, there were a few other things that happened.
When I mentioned that I was a Quaker, Paulette enthusiastically spoke about Quakers and the underground railroad, which was really welcome. But when she stopped speaking, everyone looked at me…
I had thought of this many times over the years. I greatly admired the work of Friends who helped with the underground railroad, as I likewise admired those who worked to help address any injustice or need. These situations should be a challenge to us. Where is the need today, and what am I called to do about it?
There is also a danger here. Sometimes Friends point to this work of other Friends to illustrate the work of Quakers. Noah Baker Merrill wrote a wonderful piece entitled “Prophets, Midwives and Thieves” discussing this very thing, warning us not to claim the work of others as our own. Highly recommended reading.
Of course this was also instilled in me during my upbringing. So I could immediately respond that while I was really glad my ancestors had done that, and it was the right thing to do, I didn’t do it. Which led me to talk more about how Quakers didn’t see religion as something only involving listening to a sermon once a week.
Which left me at the point where I needed to provide some example from my own life. Since KI is built on concern for the environment, I spoke of how I had reluctantly purchased a used car for $50 when I moved to Indianapolis, mainly for trips home to Iowa. Car rental was not common in the early 1970’s. When my car was totaled several years after that, I decided to see if I could live in the city without a car, and have since then. I was hoping that would show how Quakers try to translate what they believe, what they feel God is telling them, into how they actually live their lives.
At that point Imhotep, with a smile on his face, said something like “Thirty years? You are a warrior.” I had never been called a warrior before. It seemed a humorous term to use for a pacifist, but I liked it.
Then everyone looked at me…
Somewhat embarrassed at that point, what popped out of my mouth without much thought was “well…yes, I am really old!”, at which everyone laughed, and then our meeting did conclude.
The best part of the evening was that then several of the kids came up to me to shake my hand.