Thy Friend John
Thy Friend John is a member of Fifteenth Street Meeting and the husband of Elizabeth. He writes:
I’m a mid-life convert to Quakerism and Christianity — it happened a generation ago, when I was forty-five, I remember, because my then wife arranged a surprise forty-fifth birthday party for me, with a cake and a candle that I was to blow out and make a wish on. In the split-second between her prompting “make a wish” and my blowing out the candle, I realized that the only way I could do that with integrity was by making, not a light and frivolous wish for something transient, but a very solemn prayer to God for something that would sum up, in one petition, all that my soul yearned for.
The first word that came to me was “enlightenment.” How I’d yearned for enlightenment since the first moment I’d read about it! But there immediately came to me what I’d soon learn to call “a stop in the mind.” Then came the word “obedience,” and with it, the intuition that if I were obedient to God, I would perform the same actions, and impart much the same spiritual quality to them, and sow the same consequences, as if I were enlightened. As with Einstein’s famous argument that gravity and acceleration are indistinguishable in their effects and so interchangeable in the equations of physics, so, in that enlightened moment, obedience and enlightenment became one for me. As I blew the candle out, I prayed for obedience, and that year was led to the Quakers, who, I was told, worshipped the One God in “holy obedience.”