Jennifer has been a member of Westminster Quaker Meeting since 1996. She is involved with Quakers at a local, regional and national level, is an associate tutor at Woodbrooke Quaker study centre, and a trustee of the Friend publications. She has been Clerk of Quaker Homeless Action, worked for Quaker Social Action and, for five years, was part of the core team of London Euston’s Quaker Quest, when she contributed to most of their Twelve Quakers and… series of booklets.
Jennifer has recently spoken on “Why I am a Quaker, How I am a Quaker”.
Why I am a Quaker is first of all because faith took me over. About sixteen years ago, in response to trauma and in a dark time, something was going on within me that I did not understand but felt powerless to resist. I went into churches and ran out. Not what I was looking for. I remembered seeing the sign outside the Meeting House in St Martin’s Lane and decided to try it. At the time I didn’t think I knew much about Quakers, but I later found that there had been signposts along the way that I hadn’t been ready to see. I went into a Meeting, and found peace. At first I spoke to no one. Although I am a social person, I didn’t want my social self to trample on the shoots of something so new and tender. But I read books from the library – and couldn’t believe what I was reading. I had no idea religion could be like this – this was ME! Most of all it was a requirement to be my authentic self. What I had found was a response to what had been going on within me. An invitation to a direct relation with the Divine. That is what Meeting for Worship is for me. And it’s an invitation to a communal experience. I wasn’t looking for a community but I found one. And it was others in that community who enabled me to change my life.
How I was a Quaker, at the beginning, was to jump in with both feet, making up for lost time. I volunteered for Quakers, worked for Quakers, became clerk of this and that. I was also powerfully drawn to the desert, to contemplation. The balance between engagement and withdrawal is an important facet of my spiritual life and, at the time, I ran from one extreme to the other. Things have changed in the past few years. I hope I am more at ease now in a way of life that is withdrawn in the midst of action. I am less engaged in social action and find, to my surprise, that I am mostly engaged in writing and teaching. Most of all, I live my life as a Quaker in gratitude. It is not exaggerating to say that my life has been transformed, and it was through others that that happened. I can only hope that I can be an agent of change for others, in the way others have been for me.
Jennifer delivered this ministry at Westminster Friends Meeting for Worship for Business in 09/2011.
To hear what Jennifer has to say about simplicity, please go to http://www.nayler.org/?p=356