Recently, I did some writing that caused me to look back at my life and how it has unfolded. I wrote my letter to Ministry and Council of Nashville Friends Meeting declaring my desire to become a member and I wrote an introduction to a yahoogroup I've joined. Writing both of those things has gotten me thinking about how the life choices I've made have opened me and lead me to being a Quaker.
To me, there is nothing easy about being Quaker except that it fits me completely. Quakers have no answers. There's no one person to whom you can direct questions and expect guidance from. There's no 'handbook' or catechism or goal. We have no dogma, no creed so there is no one path to follow. In being a Friend, one has to trust one's own intuition and learn to listen to 'the still, soft voice within'. And I believe that, ultimately, that's all there really is for anyone, no matter how decisive the rest of the world seems to be about spiritual convictions.
When I decided to birth my oldest child at home, I began a journey of choosing to take responsibility for my life in a way that the majority of people in our culture never consider. Most women are happy to turn their physical, spiritual and emotional well-being and that of their infant, over to a physician and medical system. I chose to make childbirth a rite of passage for myself, my partner and all those who supported us. I am so thankful that I made that decision because in doing so, I learned a depth to my spirit, will, body and integrity that I may never have otherwise known. Truly, I owned the birth of my son. I earned the path to motherhood. I know how strong I am and I am linked with all the women of this world who preceded me on the journey.
The same with homeschooling, only different. It hasn't been a 'trial' in the physical way of birth, but it is about owning responsibility. It is about wanting to know my children and honor them for their individuality, gifts and needs. It's also about being willing to be honest with myself about my weaknesses and faults and being open to change and growth. It's not often easy. Sometimes it's not rewarding. I'm very glad we chose this path, though.
There are so many things about my life that are far outside the bounds of 'normal'. I don't think about them that much because I've created or joined communities in which most of the people live deliberate lives, choosing mindfulness and to be citizens over being consumers. Most of the people in my world are, to some degree, outside the bounds of 'typical American' so I rarely feel too unusual (except when my kids participate in organized sports, like soccer).
I feel like each of my 'unnormal' life choices has been a step bringing me to being Quaker. I am at a place in which I embrace the divine mystery of God. I know what I believe but I also know that new understandings will be revealed to me as I am ready for them. I know that this path that I am on is absolutely right for me but I also know that the path could take a completely unexpected turn at any moment. I trust God to lead me where I need to be; I have to trust myself to be open to wherever that is.