Dosed Holy Punch

“My name is Mike E.” I introduced myself to fellow worshipers after the silence. “I went to a Quaker high school up in New Hampshire called The Meeting School.”

It screwed my head up a bit when I revealed to everyone present that that was 20 years ago. I mean I hated to say it really. I would have inadvertently belted out a shocked “Holy FUCK! This is total bullshit” were I not at a bona fide Sunday morning religious service.

Getting old is way less fun than it used to be.

I rolled my eyes, shook my head bewildered. Laughed nervously. Most gathered in fact were older than me, I mean like Old actually. Some of them laughed. As though they heard my plight yet could offer only helpless sympathy.

A handful of the 50 or so attendees were mid-30’s kids like me. One seated at a pew across from me shook her own head & chuckled empathetically.

“This is just the second Quaker meeting I’ve been to since high school.” I explained. “But I’ve found myself here in Brooklyn & wanting to be amongst Friends.”

What I didn’t tell them: their website said there were tea & treats afterward and I was way down for some treats & tea.

My good & smart friend Galloway is a staunchly confident atheist. I respect him for it and on most days enthusiastically stake my own alongside his unarguably sensible Position. Religion — while not the Problem precisely — is a favorite tool for Earth’s few, yet near overpowering, cruelly problematic inhabitants.

The pews in the Brooklyn Friend’s Meetinghouse are a well padded entity. Excellently comfortable. There was no A/C in the 2nd-story worship space. While not brutally hot outside it was just pervasively July muggy enough to make a long walk totally suck. But wide open pew to-ceiling windows emptied a divinely cooling breeze across the room. Long white drapes flowed. Across the room a woman sat comfortably. Her legs stretched out. Bare feet perched happily on the pew as the service commenced.

To understand the Quakers, aka Religious Society of Friends, one must carefully examine Brooklyn ‘s meetinghouse pews. They’re arranged circularly. The middle of the room greets each attendee’s sight-line. Fellow worshipers face one another.

It has usually been through the love and fellowship of Friends that God has poured out blessings on me. So I’m always always grateful to Friends.

>> from a random Brooklyn Quaker’s blog

No pulpit. No text. Just friends.

There is no pastor at Friend’s Meetings. No sermon. No organ or choir. For an hour no one speaks; unless inspired to.

The one drawback to a Quaker worship? No gospel to belt the faithful ass-first out the church’s back wall in the name of sweet mother Mary. But there could be. Gospel types are free to stand up & sing. Sing for the Sunday service’s duration if compelled by the spirit to.

Freedom.

Bet they’d even respectfully tolerate one of my famous Honky Hip Hop routines! Huh. I wonder…

We’ll see.

No one sang out at the Quaker Meeting in Brooklyn that day. For most of the hour no one said a thing. Which surprised me at first. I seemed to recollect a Quaker crew that was a bit more lively. Had more to say. Why not? Everybody has something to say. All matters on where & when and, more crucially, why we say it.

And why we don’t.

Soon a peculiarly subdued blast of street noise reminded me where I was. I opened my eyes.

“Of course. This is Brooklyn.”

A place where, more than most, what people cravenly need is a bit of quietude & peace.

After the three weeks I’d just lived on the street in Brooklyn that hour of silence was a supremely benevolent thing. I was not hungry. Not homeless. In the company of good folks who gather to worship Friends each Sunday; and friends don’t let friends go homeless & hungry.

I quenched my thirst with silence. Drank it in by the ladle load; as though the silence were a bowl of dosed punch.

Ah yes! Communion.

I felt pleased and closed my eyes again.

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6 Responses to “Dosed Holy Punch”


  1. 1 planetclaire August 18, 2007 at 11:24 am

    it seems to me that this is a complicated matter

  2. 2 Mike E August 18, 2007 at 11:48 am

    Why so? I am genuinely curious. Thanks for taking time to comment.

    Drive Fast in the slow lane,
    Mike E

  3. 3 planetclaire August 19, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    20 years is a long time to be wandering the desert. hopefully you have found what it is you are looking for.

  4. 4 fatsavage August 20, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    Mike E:

    Thee is a good Quaker!

    You caught the essence of the spirituality of the people.

    Else,

    Thee is a good writer!

    For, You caught the essence of the spirituality of the people.

    Either way glad you’re back among the living. As to my down and out Days, I ate at the Divine Mission in Philidelphia where Father Divine would show up in his Divine pink Cadillac with his not so Divine white wife. Chicken leg, peas and carrots, mashed potates, white cake and koolaide for a quarter and not that much preaching. Same meal everyday. Cheeper than the student meal plan and actually better food.

    The Divine Mission mysterously burnt down when the University of Pennsylvania wanted to expand and needed to gentrafy the neighborhood.

    All true!

  5. 5 planetclaire August 26, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    The wilderness can be a scarey place.
    I have seen it and was nearly eaten by a bear.
    Find peace within oneself and blossom into a beautiful flower of knowledge and contentment,
    enrichment and self respect.

  6. 6 jayherron August 31, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    ….hmmm,you can write!


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