The first week of October was Quaker week, on the theme of “Room for More”. At Redland Meeting we put up posters of a rather sparsely laid table and invited everyone to bring friends and food to nourish and provide for those who sat with us. Our table was indeed laden with food and friendships old and new; Meeting for Worship had a richness that is hard to describe.
It was good to greet new attenders from our local community and further afield. We also welcomed back Jamie from “accompanying” in Palestine, Mark Spring from work in Japan, and Carol Lilwall and Chris Ford returned from family in Canada. Perhaps there was a sense of coming home for them, and opportunity for others to know there is space and friendship for them as part of our faith community.
As well as joyful hellos there was also a heartfelt farewell to Azam, Hirad Babakhani’s mother who returned to Iran after almost three months in Bristol. Hirad said that Azam always looked forward to coming to our weekly Meeting for Worship, and many of us welcomed her quiet companionship. The young people’s group appreciated Azam and Hirad coming to their meeting and learning about life in Iran, as well as trying some break dance moves!. We hope Azam will return to Bristol in the future, when I will make more effort to learn at least one word of Persian: Hirad provided “Dootsi va Gaza” as a translation for friendship and food. The language of hugs and farewell gazes, need no translation!
As we continue to think about how our Meeting House demonstrates our witness in the world, I hope we hold the importance of companionship, providing a table, food and welcome where “others can join us in our way of worship and response to life which are so important to us that we wish to share them… It does not depend on rewards or threats, but on the active acceptance of those who see it as truth”. Edrey Allott, 1990, Quaker faith & practice 28.09