My favorite ten minutes of meeting for worship each First Day are at the end of meeting. At Green Street Friends in Philadelphia, where I worship, children are in First-day school for the first 50 minutes and then join the adults in the worship room. Whatever has happened or arisen from the silent waiting worship up to that point, a change in atmosphere is almost palpable when the children trot down the creaky stairs.
The tall door cracks open as the child in the front of the line peeks in to make sure no one is giving ministry at the moment, so as not to interrupt. If the coast is clear, all the young folks walk briskly to their parents and guardians and snuggle up on our benches. Did I say these are my favorite minutes of worship? They might be the highlight of the week.
It has taken time for my kids to get the hang of what happens in meeting for worship, but they have the love thing down, which is something we can all try to learn from. When they were smaller, I felt the weight of trying to keep them relatively quiet, or at least not bumping into folks. Yes, there were times when they’d take advantage of being the only moving beings in an otherwise still space, and attempt parkour runs in the spacious meetingroom, clambering over benches and giggling and whispering. Now, as often as not, they’ll take advantage, as I do, of the closeness and love in the room, and bathe in the spirit of a gathered meeting.
In my experience, much of what Quaker kids absorb through their participation in Quaker communities has a long incubation. I grew up Quaker, and even though I couldn’t tell you what exactly I was experiencing as a child in First-day school or meeting for worship, I found myself pulled in the direction of Friends at key points in my life: to my Quaker friends when I was a teenager rather than the peers at my high school, to a Quaker college, to a city with a half-dozen Quaker meetings, one of which was the “Goldilocks” one for me—just right. Quaker experience is different for everyone, of course, as each of us seeks to listen to that of God within and live in the Light, whatever our age. We are pleased to share perspectives from some young people closer to their experience as “Quaker kids”—our theme this issue of Friends Journal.
Melinda Wenner Bradley interviews her three children about being Quaker, and middle school Friend Finn Kyrie (a second-generation Friends Journal contributor) takes us inside her Quaker activities, in her family and in local and regional Quaker meetings, camps, and retreats. Jim Ross reflects on the stands that young people like Quaker teen Kallan Benson are making to fight for a more livable world. You’ll also find our semiannual Young Friends Bookshelf—reviews of new titles for young readers—and, not to be missed, a Quaker crossword puzzle. Sharpen your pencils!
Thank you for being a part of our family this year, dear reader.
Yours in peace.
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