One of our newest members, Mary Wittrock, writes about her enthusiastic return to Quakerism after a spiritual journey that took her down other paths.
This is a time when I wish my veins were filled with the Quaker ink, so that I could eloquently express myself. Although I find my inkwell may be somewhat low, I shall make my most enthusiastic attempt to give all a Readers Digest version of me.
It is truly my pleasure to be a new member of the Cincinnati Friends Meeting. It took me a while to make the commitment to membership - I heard no calling…saw no visions - but after regularly attending the past few years and becoming a welcomed part of the Quaker community, I felt guided to take the next step and commit to membership…again. I was a member in the 1970s during the time of Jim and Elizabeth Newby’s first tenure. As a daughter, grand-daughter, and great grand-daughter of Quakers and a failed convert to Catholicism, finding the Quaker church in the '70s so near our home in Madeira seemed like a natural choice. However, a few years later, with a new employment opportunity for my previous husband, continuing to attend Cincinnati Meeting became a hurdle after moving to Northern Kentucky with three young children and no easy access (I-471) to the Meeting in Indian Hill. Life was busy and my children and I became active in the Methodist Church in Alexandria. It was a good experience with a wonderful pastor and opportunity for my children to become involved in youth activities. Unfortunately, my marriage ended in the mid-'80s, but by the time that happened, I had completed college, secured a wonderful job teaching with the Community College and N.K.U., so I knew I would be able to adequately support myself and my children. Although sometimes a setback occurred, the struggles that came with being a single mother largely made me stronger and more determined. As I reflect upon that period in my life, I wish I had made different choices, different decisions, and I wish I had had the insight during that time to know that all was going to work out well. In 1993 I married my lifetime partner, Earl. We embarked upon the never boring, sometimes laborious task of combining two families consisting of a total of six adolescent/young adult children. Fortunately, with all these strong and independent personalities, we somehow successfully transitioned into a happy combined family. It has been a real joy to watch our children successfully transition into adulthood and a greater joy to be the recipients of ten grandchildren with whom we have shared many adventures and joys.
Over the years, my husband and I have explored different Christian denominations. With a combined melting pot and upbringing as a Quaker, Catholic, and Methodist, we were hopeful we would find something that would satisfy and nurture our spiritual quest. Approximately three years ago, I returned (with my husband) to the Cincinnati Friends Meeting, not at all sure it would lead anywhere. After the first service we attended, we both felt comfort, peace, and a sense of spiritual satisfaction. We stopped our search, and here we are.
I embrace the Quaker testimonies of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship. Equality especially resonates with me and is very personal through my endeavors and quest for the equality of women. If I had been around in the early 1900s, I’m certain I would have marched with the suffragists. I love the simplicity of the church and the practice of silent meditation, participation of the Quaker community during our time of worship, the uniqueness and the insight of the Friends who gather. Being so blessed in ways beyond my ability to adequately express, it is so important to me to share and reach out to those who struggle, and I have found that opportunity within the Quaker community.
I’m presently at a time in my life where happiness and contentment is a part of my every day experience. I attribute much of that to the Quaker Community. I’m so glad I found the Cincinnati Friends…or did they find me?