Today I woke up late, even by my standards – 14:00. I had been working on a few reviews for my other site, Sigil Of Brass, late in to the small hours so it was mid afternoon until I came and collected the post. There was a cream envelope marked with the crest of the Army addressed to me.
I admit it, my heart skipped a beat – what had I done? What do they want? These questions and more were rushing through my mind. I carried the envelope up to my flat and, smiling a bit, peeled oped the letter.
It was a letter, on Army headed paper, and an invite to dinner. The letter, addressed to me, explained I had been selected to attend a reception at Rudding Park with Brigadier Stokes MBE, commander of the Army in my region.
You may be wondering why I have been invited – Indeed, I was wondering why I had been invited. The aim of the dinner was to give a greater understanding of what the Army does.
I really was in a pickle – do I ditch my pacifist principles and side with force for a free, delicious meal. Or do I take a stand?
Then I realised: I am not really taking a stand – I am just an angry voice. Full of aggression channeled in an anti-authoritarian direction. My life did not mean anything as I was defined by my paltry actions as opposed to actually standing for something. I was standing against authority, not standing for anything. I realised I need to do something to define my life. But, quite what that was eluded me.
Then I felt a quiet joy.
No, not a presence. No, not a parting of the clouds. No divine epiphany whatsoever. Just a quiet joy. I suddenly knew my place.
Over the past two decades, I have experimented with Yoga, meditation & even Reiki. But there was one place I felt relaxed. Friends Meeting House. It is the calmest collection of like minded pacifists and gentle folk you could shake a bayonet at. In the moment of quiet calm I realised I belonged amongst that group of peaceful people who are trying to make the world a better place through action.
I often joked to friends that I was an unofficial Friend – following the principles of the Society of Friends without the mumbo-jumbo. But it dawned on me; there is no mumbo-jumbo with The Religious Society Of Friends. I am as much of a Friend anyone who has stepped inside the Meeting House already. Fair enough, at present, I do not attend the Meetings – but I would not need to shoehorn myself in to another man’s set of beliefs. I already am a Quaker and the quiet joy was the realisation that I had a home and something to stand for in these dark days.