In so many places, in so much of my life I'm a minority--but not at
FLGBTQC's MidWinter Gathering. Nearly everyone there is an LGBT or allied
Quaker. FLGBTQC's policy and approach of radical inclusion so fits my own
values that MidWinter Gathering is a place where I can feel completly
Over the years of MidWinter Gatherings I've enjoyed the Peterson Toscano's
humerous theater, inspirational talks by Deborah Fisch and others, and
most of all enjoyed the community. MidWinter's much smaller attendance
than at summer gatherings brings a sense of being a loved and valued part
of a family. This family is so important to me that I now co-clerk an
FLGBTQC committee and edit its newsletter, even though my wife says I
already have too much work to do. I enjoy being able to joke around with
my FLGBTQC friends or seriously discuss spirituality in this safe
environment. I like greeting so many people I know and meeting so many
new people that I feel popular.
My first Mid-Winter gathering was in Philadelphia in the early or mid
1990s. It was in Philadelphia where I lived, but I hardly knew anyone,
having just started attending meeting on a regular basis. I felt so out of
it that I almost didn't come back on Saturday morning. But I did and had a
life-changing experience. It was meeting for Worship with Attention to
Business! I had never experienced anything like it before. I observed and
felt how grounded in worship the meeting was and thought to myself --
"This is what I aspire to, being grounded in Spirit in this way. This is
what I want to be when I grow up!" So I've stuck around and the community
has become a family to me. I have developed loving and nourishing
relationships and friendships here. I have grown spiritually. And I am
very grateful that I was brave enough to come back that Saturday morning.
We're not a perfect group by any means, but there is potential for deep,
meaningful growth, joy, love, and fun here. Come and join us.
When MWG was in Burlington, NJ in 2004, Sue and I were still living in
Philadelphia, so we thought we'd commute. (I actually would not recommend
commuting: the experience is so much richer when you stay over. Plus,
there's a big difference between a 20-minute commute and a 45-minute one.)
We underestimated how much time it would take to get there Saturday
morning, and so arrived for worship about 10 or 15 minutes late.
Worship was in the wonderful old Burlington Meetinghouse. Often, it's
easier for me to ground and center in old Meetinghouses; it sometimes just
feels like some of the stillness and peacefulness has seeped into the
walls over the generations, ready there for me when I need an extra bit.
So we arrived a little late, breathless, and settled into worship with all
these wonderful Friends I hadn't seen in too long, and I felt centered
And I promptly burst into tears.
As I sat there crying, I realized I'd felt a great weight lift off my
shoulders and that my tears came from relief. I was home.
I was the place where, even if not everyone knew me intimately, I knew I
was accepted and loved as my whole self. Not the parts of me that were
easiest to relate to; not the parts of me that were most immediately and
obviously part of the community; but all of me, even the parts that didn't
come out to play very often. What was important was being whole. In less
than five minutes in worship, I'd relaxed in a way I hadn't in months.
Having our community as that resource to draw on is incredibly sustaining
- S M-A