Threads in the Quaker Fabric

Cotton: The everyday Friend on working committees. The lifestyle is earthy, simple, and enduring.

Polyester: This Friend is uncomfortable in heated situations—easily becoming an irritant—and has to be handled with care.

Wool: Soft sometimes, but not always. Durable; never cold when approached. This sturdy Friend works for American Friends Service Committee or is the long-term teacher in a Friends school.

Silk: The Friend who looks delicate but actually has enduring warmth, personality, and stamina. Puts this Friend on everyone’s list for teas and receptions.

Linen: The stalwart Friend who easily absorbs problems. Takes matters in stride even though may present pressing problems of one’s own. This Friend is our school head and clerk of our Meetings—good for salvaging problems.

Velvet: Upon introduction, this smooth Friend is disarming, but with further acquaintance one finds that this Friend can’t be buttonholed.

Gauze: The hidden qualities of this plain Friend bind up society’s wounds.

Prints: This Friend easily sees both sides of a situation, depending on how it is presented. Very desirable as an overseer.

Satin: This Friend’s mannerisms are disarming, offering a smooth touch to any situation—the coveted elder.

Taffeta: Pompous, noisy, rattles to make an impression.

These fabrications are, after all is sewn and done, immaterial. As you see, Quakers are not uniform. You can’t pin any one pattern of living on our Religious Society. They’d needle you if you tried. They simply aren’t cut out that way. This dialogue is wearing as thin as voile, but as I said, these fabrications are immaterial.

Ruthanna Hadley

Ruthanna Hadley is a member of Germantown Meeting in Philadelphia, Pa.