received via email:
Feb 9 2012
Although my background is Jewish, I am, as you may have gathered, not at all religious. But I have always said that, if I were a Christian, I would be a Quaker. This goes back to my days as a Conscientious Objector, when I became aware of the exemplary work Quakers do, not only in resisting war, but in giving truly practical help to suffering people all over the world.
Once or twice, back then, I attended a Quaker “Meeting” — but I found it awkward, and rather boring, just to sit in silence, which is what most of the Meeting consisted of.
Recently, however, I discovered that there is a Quaker meeting-place here in Santa Barbara, very near my usual walking route between home and office. Quakers also call themselves “Friends” — and it occurred to me that this might be a good place for me to make some new local friends, of whom I seem to have run sadly short lately. — But I was worried about those tedious long silent sessions.
Anyway, I decided to give it a try, and for about the last five Sundays I have put in an appearance, and sat through the entire proceedings. The result has been in one way a very pleasant surprise. What I found was that the hour of silence which I had dreaded was not tedious at all, and in fact passed incredibly quickly. Sitting there with eyes closed and just letting my mind roam, I can never believe that a whole hour has gone by.
The only trouble was that the silence was not unbroken. At a Quaker meeting, anybody can stand up and speak — and I find myself regretting that we can’t just have a wholly quiet hour.
As a further irony, I must also tell you that although the people have indeed been friendly, so far I haven’t actually made any friends.
All the best,
P.S. If you are still planning to look at my 1946 diary, which I sent you on Dec. 24, may I suggest that you do so soon, because 1947 is almost ready to go, and 1948 (when I was 14) is in the works. I think I can promise you that each succeeding year will be a little more readable.