Today I finally got to check out the San Francisco Quaker Meeting, almost completing my tour of local Bay Area Quaker communities. A fairly nondescript building on 9th Street near Market, the San Francisco meeting gathers every Sunday at 11am for worship, followed by socializing and committee meetings.
This morning there were about 30-40 Friends in attendance, in a functional if drab meeting space. Meeting began with a query about Quakers and the earth, and then settled into the silence. I haven't had the opportunity to be at Meeting for a few weeks, so just quieting my mind and my heart, slowing my breathing, and relaxing my body were much needed activities.
There is a certain quality to Quaker silence that is different from the silence of, say, a doctor's waiting room, a subway car, or just sitting silently by yourself. There is a calm expectation in the air, an appreciation of the moments passing by. In a noisy, busy city, the silence is such a treat to be savored.
Typically, a few people break the silence to give oral ministry to the group. These come from the deepest place in a person, something so important that you have to interrupt the quiet to share it. It's what newcomers to Quaker Meeting wait in expectation for.
Today there were no oral messages at all, which is a rare occurence at most large meetings for worship. There was simply 60 minutes of silence. It was like a little miracle that I appreciated so much.
Then, at the end of the hour, we shook hands and the clerk welcomed us all there. He read out the announcements and invited us to stick around for refreshments. Several folks came over to introduce themselves to me and made sure I was made to feel welcome. I'm looking forward to coming back.
The San Francisco Quaker Meeting is located at 65 Ninth Street, between Mission and Market. They meet for worship every Sunday at 11am. See their website for more info.