I’ve been in use as a Friends Meeting House since 1931. Week by week, the Friends come every Sunday and sit quietly, patiently, waiting. Sometimes someone stands and speaks briefly, or even at length. Sometimes they are all silent for a whole hour. Over the years various people have joined the group and stayed or moved on. Sometimes there are other activities like yoga before the silent meeting, sometimes there are children, sometimes there is a special celebration, like when the sundial was installed in the garden. One such occasion happened recently.
A couple started coming to Meeting during 2009, they were really quite keen, got involved in some of the other activities that happen here, came in enthusing about how they’d been to Quaker Quest at some other Meeting House, in another Area Meeting, Watford I think they said. Everyone was pleased to have new people so interested in Quakers. Then, one Sunday, right at the end of 2009, they mentioned that they’d decided to get married. That got the older Friends interested, especially when they added that they’d like a Quakerwedding. Where would they have it? At Jordans? That’s what most couples choose. No, here? Has there ever been a wedding here? Jordans is so historic and scenic, who’d chose High Wycombe? But this is where we belong, where we’re part of the Meeting. What excitement!
Then there were all the practicalities, times, dates, forms. It would be so much easier if they were Members – had they thought about that? Yes, but it wouldn’t be the right reason to apply for membership, let’s find Friends to support our application to marry here as attenders.
As the day approached I was cleaned from top to bottom, my walls repainted. Nick practised making biscuits (Friends enjoyed testing the samples), everyone was encouraged to be there. The day itself was dry, and sunny at times, (good for October) and everyone was assembled in good time – family, friends and Friends and the couple themselves, and settled into silent waiting. On this occasion there were many who spoke, all briefly. Nick and Paula exchanged their vows, Paula read a poem that expressed how she felt, the certificate was signed and read out, more Friends gave ministry, all held in the worshipping heart of the Meeting. Then the Elders shook hands, everyone else was invited to add their signatures to the Quaker Marriage Certificate. Tea and Nick’s special biscuits were served, the couple disappeared for a while to sign the legal papers. Everyone trooped outside into the sunshine to be photographed, the photographer hanging out of the upstairs window, and everyone talked to everyone else. Eventually the whole party made it’s way into High Wycombe to the Swan for a meal, some speeches and folk dancing, and I was left quiet again. The wardens crept back about 10pm, finished the washing up and made me clean and tidy for first day morning. What a wonderful occasion to remember.
Stephanie Grant (for Wednesday Group 15/12/10)