Last week my friend Jen found a little advertisement for the Quaker meeting near Antigua. I had found their information online weeks ago but the phone numbers didn´t work. I called the new number – which worked! – and arranged a ride to meeting this last Sunday.
Loren and his friend arrived just before 11 a.m. to pick us up. We bounced along through the streets of Antigua, past the market, until we came out onto the “highway” to Ciudad Vieja. The meeting is actually held in the home of one of the members, halfway between Antigua and Ciudad Vieja.
We arrived a bit late for the 11 a.m. meeting,, but Loren explained it was okay because the meeting was so small, the others would just wait for us. It was indeed very small: just three members last Sunday. And what an eclectic group they were!
Loren is an older man, tall, slim, and slightly stooped. He had a bit of a raspy voice and it looked like the years had been hard on him. He is a direct descendant of the founders of Mormonism. His ancestors trekked across the US following Joseph Smith. I believe his particular ancestors were part of the group that traveled without oxen or horses, lugging all their own belongings. I guess quite a few of them died trying to do this. But Loren is completely Quaker now. He comes to the meeting from Parramos, on the other side of Antigua, but only lives in Guatemala part of the year.
One of the other members, an older, jolly-looking woman, has been in Guatemala for 20+ years. She travels from Guatemala City for every meeting and is originally from the US.
Margaret, whose house we met in, is originally from Scotland. She is an older woman with long grey-white hair and kind eyes behind her glasses. She speaks slowly and precisely, with a wonderful Scottish accent. She was wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with a brightly colored butterfly. Her house was amazing, with lots of tile and wood and windows and animals. Two dogs and a cat joined us for the meeting. Attached to the back of the house was an enclosed butterfly garden with a hundred butterflies fluttering around.
After a little bit of chatting the five of us settled down into cat hair covered couches and chairs for an hour-long silent Quaker meeting. It was very peaceful and quiet. For the most part. As you settle into silence you start to hear a lot of things.
Growling and gurgling stomachs
Children laughing and running out in the street
A ticking clock
People shifting in their seats
The dogs taking in deep breaths and sighing
Other dogs barking outside
The heat clicking on
The cat licking itself (and licking and licking with the most disgusting sounds a cat can make – cats always want to be the center of attention)
A bell somewhere out in town chiming the hour
After an hour one of the women took off her glasses, which was the sign I guess. We all stood up and held hands in a circle to close the meeting. Then we sat down around the table for a potluck and the three members of the meeting had a brief business meeting.
Margaret took Jen and me outside to the butterfly garden after lunch. As Margaret reached the back of the garden she exclaimed, “We have a birth! We have a birth!!” She opened a little hatch on the wall and I saw a big black and orange butterfly flopping and fluttering about, its chrysalis empty on floor of the little hatchery. Another bright green chrysalis was hanging nearby, promising a new exciting birth in another week or two.