My name is Sally Brooks, I am 28 years old and I am a Quaker. I am many other things too. But while I am working for the NHS, while I am out with friends and when I am spending time with family and loved ones, I am not simply ‘also’ a Quaker.
I feel my faith is part of all those things I list. Everything I love, am and care for is indivisible with my faith. Yet, somehow, trying to explain exactly what Quakerism is and what, specifically I believe, well, I am going to struggle!
Quakers believe that there is ‘that of God in everyone’. This is a phrase that came from George Fox, the founder of Quakerism in the mid 17th century. Of course the tricky term in that sentence is the word ‘God’.
For some Quakers God is the Father in the Christian Trinity of the Bible. Quaker history is closely bound with Christianity. However, in this day and age, if you ask ten Quakers to describe God, you will have ten different answers.
Some talk of an ‘energy’, some of a ‘human spirit’, others simply of ‘goodness’. I have been to meetings, discussions and workshops about this very issue. But the reason I love Quakers so much is that there is no necessity to agree. It is the plurality of opinions upon which the British Society of Friends, as Quakers are more formally known, thrives.
One of my friends once commented to me that Quakers are one of the few religious communities he’s come across that don’t claim to know the ‘truth’. He described us as sort of bumbling around, trying to do the right thing and thinking carefully about how we live.
For me, God is in the bus driver who smiled as I said “good morning” today. God is in the sun shining on the frost-covered park I travelled past on my way to work. God is in the colleague who laughed at my jokes. God was in the quiet moment over my cup of tea in my favourite café while I read the newspaper at lunchtime.
For me, God is not a man with a beard and a cloak, not definable in human form – be it male or female. God is the very essence of life, the spiritual moments, the daily grind, the light that guides me. God is simply a shorthand for all of this and more.