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How our family was welcomed into meeting

For Quaker Week, Ruth Wilde shares how her Quaker community has supported her family at different times.

How our family was welcomed into meeting

One Sunday morning back in 2015, my wife and I walked into our first meeting for worship together. We didn't have a child back then, but we were really pleased to see how loved and welcomed the children were.

They were so much a part of the meeting that, rather than be bothered by the noise of the children playing and sometimes shouting outside while we were sitting in silence inside, some of the adults in the meeting stood to minister about how wonderful it was to hear them enjoying themselves. It made those adults feel young and alive and like they were part of a vibrant meeting – a meeting with a future. We thought it was a wonderful and open-hearted way to look at things and we wanted to be a part of that meeting from then on.

Fast forward a year to 2016 and my wife and I were approved as foster carers. We had our first placement in 2017 after a long wait and a lot of preparation, but it sadly broke down in very painful circumstances and we resigned as foster carers soon after. Through all this, we were supported by our meeting.

Finding clarity

In late 2017, we began conversations with friends of ours about one of them being a donor so that we could have our own child. We decided to have a meeting for clearness about this in early 2018, with the aid of some people from our meeting. A meeting for clearness helps people find clarity around an issue by providing space for questions and reflections in a specifically-arranged meeting for worship.

It was a most beautiful and helpful event, with both the donor and his partner present, an elder and friend from our meeting, my wife and I and two or three other (F)friends. Everyone present gave valuable input, as moved to by the Spirit. One F(f)riend said that they felt there was a child waiting to be born. It certainly felt right to move forward after that meeting for clearness. We began trying soon after and Ellie soon fell pregnant.

Being welcomed

Brendan was born in January 2019 at home in a bath of water! It was so beautiful and I can't remember ever having loved anyone so much as that little baby when he came out. He has always been welcomed like a member of the Quaker family when we've taken him to meeting for worship, and he was welcomed by the area meeting early on by someone who came to the house when he was still very small.

Brendan used to sit very still and quietly in meeting when he was little, but he has since become a boisterous toddler and, because of Covid, I think he couldn't get used to the silence of worship and now finds sitting still even harder, which is a real shame. Nonetheless, he loves to run around the grounds and enjoys certain activities with other children of the same age. As he gets older, I hope he'll be able to sit and listen to stories of Quaker historical figures and Bible stories and maybe one day he'll hear about his namesake, St Brendan, who lived on a whale for a bit!

I'm grateful to Selly Oak Quaker Meeting in Birmingham, and to all the people who have upheld us throughout our journey and the ups and downs of parenting.

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