My earbuds, pounding music into my mind, create a weird dichotomy as I look out my window into the pitch, still, blackness of the night. It yells quiet, calm, nothingness. My ears hear a loud, pounding drum line that gives way to a melodic guitar. My surroundings feel calm and quiet, while my mind is anything but. Thoughts race and flit from one topic to the next. My brain feels heavy and tired from the cares of everyday life; finances, school, medications, errands. The things that make up the ins and outs of our days. I long to shake them off and only carry the things worth caring for. If only it were that simple, to shake it away, the worries, the frustrations, to wake refreshed, holding those things precious to you, and only those. The feelings and well-being of those I love, dreams, hopes, the Spirit. How I long to carry only those.

The Quakers fascinate me. They call each other friends. When they gather, they meet in silence, search inward for the whispers of God, know when the silence has lifted, and greet one another. There is no glitz and glam to the Quakers. I suppose they’re just like oatmeal in that way. For real though, they are simple, quiet, searching, listening people. When I wanted to walk away from the church, I researched the Quakers, and I found myself drawn to them. At the time, it wasn’t an option for me to pursue further than a google search and listening to a few videos. As Covid lingers and church continues to stir in me, I’m reminded why I felt drawn to the Quakers. In some ways, more than ever, the church has become a glitzy production, and now you watch it on your TV screen. It is pushing against everything in me I wanted to leave behind for good when I left that giant church in my county’s wealthy district.

I longed for the simple practices of spirituality. Eating meals together, prayer, confession, living life, sharing what we had. Simple practices that aren’t so simple, but rich, powerful, and full of meaning. I wanted my table full of friends, sharing their experience of God from the week, breaking bread, drinking a good drink, laughing, fulfilling the wishes of Ecclesiastes and Matthew 26 together. Now we aren’t allowed to gather in such ways. My table is full of my small family and I remind myself they are my mission field. My first and foremost, my most important, and I struggle.

I miss those small gatherings of friends in my family room. Bibles open, notepads balanced on knees, pens clicked, discussion flying. I miss eating rich breakfast foods, sipping coffee, delving into Christian nonfiction books, small books of the Bible, sharing how we saw God move.

I walked away from a lot.

I’ve missed it.

I’ve struggled with how to regain what I left and how to leave what doesn’t help.

I keep walking. I keep searching.

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