Quaker Week: Marcia’s Quaker Story
Even as a young child, I was always interested in religion. I went to a Church of England School which was a lovely environment. The vicar came in to tell us Bible stories. I was fascinated. I particularly remember the story of St Christopher carrying the Christ child across the river (not Biblical, but fascinating to a young child).
My parents didn’t go to Church or take us to Church. My Father was interested in Buddhism which I feel is so close to much of my own feelings. My Church experience was through school and the Guides (Church Parade every month). At age 11, a friend and I started going to the Methodist Chapel. I was definitely interested in religion which, I admit, must have been unusual. I remember my brother and I going to a local Chapel.
By my teenage years, when we had moved to Torquay, I decided to attend a service at every place of worship in the town. I didn’t really complete this, but by now had become a regular attender at High Church of England services. And this led on to going to Roman Catholic Masses. At age 20 I had become a Catholic, totally convinced that this was the one true Church.
Probably only a few years later, I began to have doubts. These were difficult to contend with and mostly I had to ignore them. By this time I was married with a family and our local Catholic Church and school were a large part of our social structure. I think the beliefs were in the background although I increasingly felt concerned that I couldn’t accept all that I was supposed to believe. But the local Catholic Church was very much part of my social network. It was supportive and friendly and I am still part of this community.
Fast forward many years. Our elder son Matthew became seriously ill with a brain tumour from which we all knew he would not recover. This turned my life over and ripped it apart. Matthew had always been spiritual; probably the only one of our three children who felt that going to Mass was important. He kept on going to Church, but also started to go to Quaker meeting in Southport. They were incredibly supportive of him and he felt at home there. I went with him a few times and, after he died, carried on going to Meeting.
An hour’s silence is so helpful when you are in a difficult place. I don’t have to profess a belief in anything – I can remain open to many ideas. I love the idea of embracing different faiths. For many years I have believed there are a multitude of ways to what we call “God”. We must find our way there and the silence and companionship of Quaker worship seems like a good start to my route.
I do feel torn. A lot of my friends and social structure is within my local Catholic Church. But I have found a new social structure within our friends at Quaker Meeting in Southport. Because of the Quakers’ attitude and beliefs, I do not think the two are incompatible.
I feel I have come home to where I need to be and from this base I can relate in confidence to my other social structures and networks.