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Quaker Flavour

This lighthearted musing on Quaker identity was written for a Friends General Gathering Plenary session, in Tacoma Washington, 2006.  
Friends, we are divided by many things:

Geography; Theology; what songs we like to sing.

But there is a simple question that I think unites us in the end:

a question we’ve all be asked, by someone who’s not a Friend:

“ A QUAKER? Really? Wow, huh.  I’ve never met a QUAKER before.  You seem so…I mean, you dress so normal, I mean, I thought you guys all lived sort of like the Amish or something?  Maybe…like, the Quaker Oats guys?  But you drive a ca — I mean you’re…okay, wow, cool: I guess I actually have no idea!  So tell me, what IS a Quaker?”

And perhaps you, Friend, like me, give an answer that explains something,

and yet not everything,

and personally I’m always left wondering

how accurately

I have actually

described my peculiar people

(because we ARE a peculiar people)

each as unique as the way we answer

“exactly what kind of a Quaker am I, anyway?”

I was born to a Quaker mother, but is a Quaker born, or made?
Best grown in sun, or shade?
If washed too often, will a Quaker fade?
These are the questions that plague my seeking, questioning Quaker-mind,
and at three in the morning (or around that time)
I start to find
more queries that answers

like: was that voice I thought I was hearing in worship

actually that of the Divine Maker?

Maybe not.

Maybe in worship I’ve been asleep, not awaker!

Is it possible that I’m just a big ol’ FAKER Quaker?

Just a Birkenstock-wearing muck-raker?

A potluck dinner banana bread baker?

An oatmeal-maker, an organic tomato staker?

A tie-dye booty-shaker?

Oh no… could I be a FLAKER Quaker?
A “God has asked me to say that I need a ride home from meeting today!”ministry-maker?

A placator?

An agnostic, Jewish, Buddist Pagan Universalist Quaker?

A bad decision-maker?

With no creed or dogma, sometimes I do get stuck

in this never-ending, Quaker-questioning rut.

What about you, Friend??Are you a quality Quake?

Does alphabet-soup-committee membership a real Quaker make?

What flavour best describes your Quaker stripes?

Or is it unquakerly anyway to divide Friends into different Quaker types?

Do you put your faith into practice?

Do you practice what you preach?

Is it a prerequisite to believe George Bush should be impeached?

Do you have shaggy shaggy locks, and a pair of leather breeches?

Or are you a vegan pacifist who won’t even kill leaches?

Are you a trend setter, a Sally-Ann, second hand-shopper,

a left-wing political name-dropper?

Are you a Foxy Friend?

A Margaret kinda-Feller?

An Elizabeth Fry-er?

An only-organic food buyer?

A Mary Dyer??A truth teller on all occasions, or an occasional liar?

A Willy Penn, or a James Naylor?

An incorrigible, conspiracy theory, mass group-emailer!

A fossil fuel abstainer?? A plain speaker??A seeker, a freaker, an outside-the-liner,

A slip-between-the-cracker, a stand-up-and-be-counted, truth-to-power yakker?

Has the foundation of my query been properly laid?

Is a Quaker born, or made?

Best grown in sun, or shade?

If washed too often, will a Quaker fade?