By Gregory A. Barnes. Friends Press, 2019. 255 pages. $10/paperback; $6.99/eBook.
There will be a lot more storytelling in this book review column! Quaker diaries, or journals, were commonly published in earlier times; today it is not so common. In this volume, however, we have more than eight years of journaling by Friend Gregory Barnes. In sharing so intimate a document, Barnes sometimes omitted names and specific references, and sometimes he did not, depending on the nature of the diary entry.
What’s amazing is that Barnes was not a diarist before December 2007, when the first entries describe his wanting to keep a “Quaker diary” to record his weekly worship, committee work, and other Quaker activities and work. Having just read a Quaker diary that was dry and unsatisfying, Barnes undertook to document the work, worship, relationships, collaborations, and reflections that animate his life as a Friend. He met with Friends early in this leading in order to test it and to seek clearness. Barnes describes his entry into his meeting, as well as other personal details, so there is a comfortable amount of context.
The first few entries are from 2007, but chapter 1 is 2008 and so on through 2015. Entries are mostly short, several to a page, with longer ones of a page or so. There are some stretches of days when all the entries are long, indicating more activity and/or more reflection. Barnes’s meeting is unprogrammed: Central Philadelphia (Pa.) Meeting, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. This book has an index at the end for easy reference.