I was pleased I got to share on KQED’s Bay Curious blog in March a bit of how the pandemic has changed my life: getting back to my Quaker roots. Here’s what I shared:
My name is Rik Panganiban and I work for KQED education. Like a lot of people, everything changed in the pandemic, but the one thing I didn’t expect was that I would go back to church. I’m a member of the Religious Society of Friends, which many people know of as Quakers, and if you know anything about Quakers, one of the things we’re known for is having our worship services in silence. Basically, you just go there and sit in a space with a bunch of other people and meditate together. And then out of the silence, people can speak, but most of the time it’s quiet. I stopped going to Quaker meetings about 10 years ago for a lot of reasons, and didn’t really miss it honestly. Then the pandemic hit and I just felt so lonely and so starved for any kind of community and connection. And I got this email from my home meeting in Brooklyn, New York, saying that they were starting to have Zoom based Quaker meetings for worship.
One April Sunday morning, I logged in at 8 AM and basically sat on a Zoom with 100 other Quakers just kind of staring at each other’s little boxes for an hour. And I don’t know what it was, but I just felt so good after that, just felt like, yeah, this is what I miss, being with other people, people who care for me, who are good people. And I’ve been going every Sunday and it’s made a huge difference in my life. I just feel just much more centered. I feel much more motivated to do my daily meditation, to really focus on what’s important to me. So I’m really grateful that I had this time to reconnect to my spiritual community. It has meant the world to me.