When I was asked to write an Introduction for myself, my reaction was, “great, that should be fun!” Seriously, what was I thinking? I’ve spent entirely too much time thinking about what part of my life I want to lead with. (Thank you for your patience, Carole.) I have to keep reminding myself that we will continue to get to know each other more deeply over time. So this is the slice of life I’m going with.
I grew up in a family of six in Northeastern Ohio. When we lived in Alliance, my parents sent us to Sunday school at the Presbyterian church. When I was nine years old my father received his doctoral degree and we moved to Kent for him to take a job as a school counselor. Sunday school attendance didn’t continue. I don’t know if this was ever said out loud, but the message I got in my family was that belief in God was for ignorant or weak people. Being “ignorant” was not OK. I went to church with friends, but only a few times over the years, and I never connected with a faith tradition or a congregation
In 1979 I married and moved to Cincinnati. When we started our family, I felt it was important for my kids to have a church experience, for cultural literacy if for nothing else. In 1983 we began attending Christ Church Episcopal, Cincinnati.
This is also the time I went back to work part-time. I took a job at the Alcoholism Council of Cincinnati. That choice to work at the Council still seems like “a God thing.” That’s where I learned about Al Anon. My first husband and I divorced after seven years of marriage. During that time I began attending Al Anon. That was the first place “God” made sense to me. That’s when my conscious search for contact with God began.
When I took a job with The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati in 2000, I had an opportunity to work with a variety of faith communities, which was a valuable experience for me personally. The question in the back of my mind was “What’s the truth about God and Jesus? Am I getting it wrong?” At some point that question evolved into “What do I believe?” I had become very involved in my Episcopal congregation. Changing the question gave me the freedom to leave a church community that wasn’t healthy for me and trust that I would end up where I belong.
I avoided church for many years, feeling that it wouldn’t be helpful in my spiritual journey. Church felt more like an obstacle to my relationship with God than a support. I did miss being part of a community. I longed for a community that would share in and support my spiritual journey. I had been curious about Quakers for years due to family history a few generations back. I went online and read the Testimonies, and they resonated with me. If it were authentic, that could be what I was looking for. One Sunday in January of 2020 I felt a pull to visit the Quakers. I trusted myself enough at this point to know I could leave if it wasn’t right for me. I found Cincinnati Friends Meeting online and attended my first meeting. None of my alarms went off, so I continued to attend.
Then came Covid. During quarantine I attended Meeting for Worship and the class, “The People Called Quakers” via Zoom. Being an introvert, Zoom may have been a good way for me to start becoming familiar with everyone from a distance. Plus, everyone had a name tag! Also due to Covid the volunteer activities that I had been involved in for years ended abruptly (Highfield Discovery Garden at Glenwood Gardens and the food pantry, C.A.I.N. - Churches
Active in Northside). Also around this time, my husband Jim and I decided to move out of our too-large house with too many gardens in Springdale to be closer to my son and his family. During quarantine we sold the house we’d been in for 22 years, built a new house, and moved to Miami Township.
That’s a lot of transition, but I’m having fun meeting new people and learning about new places. Quarantine is easing a bit, but I’m not rushing into new volunteer activities. I’m waiting to see what I’m called to. I’m planning my new gardens, keeping them small, creating habitat for wildlife, and getting the help I need. I want to plant a tree or two. It’s odd knowing I won’t be around when they reach maturity.
I’m grateful that Cincinnati Friends Meeting came into my life at this time. You're good companions to have in an ongoing spiritual journey. I look forward to hearing your stories, to continue getting to know you better, and to continue my journey in this warm, sincere, loving community.