We spent the weekend at Quarterly Meeting. And now I have to explain that, despite the title, Quarterly only happens twice a year. It's a unit of people, not of time. Basically Quakers have their local Monthly Meeting where they worship every week. A regional collection of Monthly Meetings forms a Quarterly. Ours is all of Washington and a bit of Northern Idaho. A collection of Quarterlies forms a Yearly Meeting. Our Yearly is composed of Friends from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and the northern part of Wyoming. And our Yearly Meeting belongs to the larger association of Friends General Conference. FGC is a collection of 14 Yearly Meetings and various other groups. Our connection to FGC describes our type of worship (liberal, silent). There are other kinds of Quakers that have different styles but this is ours. It's a little like a chain of command, except of course the Spirit is in charge, not a person.
I guess for some people all this structure might seem...confusing? Superfluous? I love it. I do. I love the idea that a group of people from difference places can gather together and explore this identity that we share. I love watching our kids playing and building friendships and the way that the adults take turns caring for them. I love hearing about the different ways we worship and seeing them come together. Even these odd words that don't quite make sense in a contemporary context. I love this sense that this our culture, this is what keeps us a little out of step with the wider culture and gives us something back, something rich and joyful.
This weekend I volunteered to teach the preschool kids. I know the kids program is a service and a blessing to all the families and since the preschool group would include Unity, I felt pretty comfortable with that. Whew. I tell you, I am exhausted. It was only two days, and I had a co-teacher and several adult volunteers but man, it's all a blur. Whatever preschool teachers get paid, it isn't enough. We had ten kids between the ages of 3 and 5. Which I'm learning is a biiiig range, in terms of interests and personality. It actually went really well but I don't have any pictures.
I was too busy making boats out of plastic trays and floating them in the stream and drying off the kids who ventured in, and reading books and building towers and playing with a parachute and making hats with paper plates and crepe paper and parading around with tamborines singing Jingle Bells and sculpting with shaving creme and and and.....
In the car on the way home I realized in addition to the grass stains on my clothes, I also have a cold. No surprise really. But I do have a deeper admiration for all the preschool teachers out there who do this every single day. And while I loved spending time with the kids of our community and getting to know them better, next Quarterly Meeting I'm looking forward to having a bit more silent worship.
When I see those preschool teachers though, I'm going to give them such gratitude.
Linking with Weekending.