Rounding out my tour of local Quaker meetings and churches, on Sunday afternoon I found myself at the simple home of Pam Calvert and Helen Haug in Oakland. Pam and Helen have been holding a Quaker worship group in their home on Sunday afternoons for several years now.
I have been wanting to attend this group for awhile, since Pam and Helen go back to my early years as a Quaker in New York City. Pam motivated me to officially become a Quaker in the 1990s when she told me that her letter requesting membership consisted of just one sentence. It was something along the lines of, "I love this community and I want to be a part of it."
I participated in Pam and Helen's wedding at the 15th Street Meetinghouse, signing along with the other attendees their marriage certificate. It now hangs above their mantle in their living room. This was a big occasion in the 15th Street Meeting, which had been struggling with the issue of gay marriage for several years. So to finally come to a place where we could all affirm and participate in the marriage of two lesbian members of our community was an extremely joyous and powerful ocassion.
Pam and Helen have been living in the Bay Area for several years now, and are active among other things in the local Alternatives to Violence Program. Their worship group considers AVP their main ministry that they support as a group.
As you can imagine, it was a small gathering on Sunday afternoon. I was the first to arrive, a few minutes before 5pm. Pam was already holding the silence while Helen prepared tea. Soon others arrived until we were a gathered group of seven people sitting in a small circle.
It has been a long time since I have been in a Quaker Meeting for Worship in someone's home, which does somehow feel different from worshiping in a proper Meetinghouse. I found it harder to center down, my mind wandered, my body grew restly. It was an act of will to stay in a meditative state. But eventually I did arrive. Then at 6pm, we stood and held hands for a gracious moment. Afterwards we sat and had tea to chat for a few minutes.
It was great catching up with Pam and Helen again, and meeting the other Oakland Quakers there. I look forward to worshipping with them again.