Friends - For more than a year now I have been dressing variations on Quaker Plain. I have gone past the stage of feeling self-conscious and uncomfortable generally, but I am still a bit at a loss when people ask questions. Most commonly they will ask "Are you Amish? (or Mennonite?)" I reply, "No, I'm Quaker." Now one problem is that I'm immediately aware that this does not answer their question, which really was "Why are you dressed that way?" They then either say something like "Oh. I have a friend who is Quaker and she doesn't dress like that," or "What is that?" The first question requires a complicated answer that I am never completely satisfied with. I could explain that not all Quakers dress plain, but then that still leaves them wondering why I do. So I then fumble and mumble about leadings and individual choice, and no, it is not required of Quakers etc. And though not complete this is okay cause the person is really just curious, not deeply interested. The other question gives me more trouble: "What is a Quaker?".....Okay, go for it!

I have given some very unsatisfactory answers to this question which always leaving me wishing I had gotten their email address so I could correct whatever I said! One girl, who really wanted to know, said "So, is it a religion?" after my long-winded and confused attempt to encompass the life-changing importance of Quakerism in a paragraph or two - so you can see what a botched job I did.

So my question for you is, what do you say to these inquiries? I feel we have an opportunity to witness here, and also to spread awareness of Quakers, which ups the ante and the pressure on me to make sense! Do you have good answers ready? Do you feel you are communicating something?

And, by the way, I really only get these questions if I am wearing a cap and not a veil or snood.

Best to all,

Barb

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Barb & Friends, Peace Be With You, On an experimental basis I will often use a grey wool hat, grey flannel type shirt and on occasion grey slacks to go with it.(with black socks and shoes)   Especially during the season of Fall and in Winter even more so.

This friend finds Winter season especially a good time for deepening with Spirit.

I fantasized with the idea of purchasing a "Amish" style Quaker wide brimmed (Grey?) hat but have not taken that step.   

I often will use (privately) a "dedicated" 100% green wool blanket as a "prayer" or "nearness" tool, its forest green in color.  

Appreciating this conversation,

Smiling your direction.

Off topic: I give thanks for new life Spirit has been breathing into our Geneva New York Friends Meeting in recent months.

I can tell you where to get an Amish hat, but it'll be black. They wear black hats. I got one for my fiance at Flying Cloud Hats in Intercourse, PA. When it was just a tad too big, we went back a week later and told the proprietor about the problem, and he just said "ok, let me help you find one that fits" and that was it. So odd not to have a complicated returns/exchange process these days!

R.H. Francis O'Hara said:

Barb & Friends, Peace Be With You, On an experimental basis I will often use a grey wool hat, grey flannel type shirt and on occasion grey slacks to go with it.(with black socks and shoes)   Especially this time of season Fall and Winter even more.

This friend finds Winter season especially a good time for deepening with Spirit.

I fantasized with the idea of purchasing a "Amish" style Quaker wide brimmed (Grey?) hat but have not taken that step.   

I do use privately a dedicated 100% wool blanket as a "prayer" or "nearness" tool, its forest green.   Smiling your direction.

   Thank you for your kind response, Mackenzie.

    We live in a city, but in a residential neighborhood of it. Its a nice neighborhood. I can be out in the yard front or back, but except for half the back yard being nice trees and roses and some wisteria, we have a pool we don't use much. Its called a 'privacy lot" with no neighbors right over our back fence. It was a rural area when we moved here fifteen years ago and that didn't last very long.  We are doing some looking around in the very near future for a different home.

  I need to get up the courage alone that I have when out with my husband. Snoods are very nice but would not work for me. I am certain you look very nice like your picture and that you should have no problems.  We live about half a mile from a high school and sometimes a few of the students can be disrespectful to anyone, older or not. I have not chanced that yet. The time is  coming though because I am needing to

get some exercise. Maybe just going around the block to start will work. Thank you again for your response.

Carolyn

Carolyn You bring up an interesting point. For me it was easier at first to go to places where I did not know anyone - like to Walmart, or stores I didn't usually go to. I avoided the stores where I was well known. I guess I was getting my feet wet, seeing how others responded, without having to deal with shocked surprised looks at seeing me looking so different. I gather that this change is big for you? In other words you look significantly different now than you did a few months ago? For me the clothing didn't change much (unless I wore a cape dress) but the head covering was what made me so self-conscious! Gradually I eased into places where I was more likely to be recognized, and then lastly my own neighborhood. That was the hardest. (Does this sound reminiscent of Jesus?)

Now it rather amuses me that I was so self-conscious, as I can now see that most people hardly notice that you are wearing a scarf etc. (though a recognizable Anabaptist cap draws more attention). In the winter I also wear a plain white cap that ties under the chin. Some people still haven't seen me in that and it can be a bit uncomfortable at first.

As for teens, I passed a high school in that cap and I heard the group of teens discussing what I was (Mennonite etc.). they thought I was Amish but I had just gotten out of the driver's seat of a car, so that was a problem. One girl came up to ask me. She was truly interested in what Quakers are etc. So it will not necessarily be negative.

One last thing. Somehow I felt guilty for being self-conscious. As if I was ashamed of Christ I guess. Now I know I was making that up. I know now it was just all very new to me and we have to give ourselves a break!

Best wishes,

Barb

I dress plain full time, and that includes walking the dog!  The only time I wear something else is for riding my horse or working out in the gym.  Even in the gym or under my helmet I am wearing my snood.

Paula

  I am looking different but to me that is OK. And I have the black bonnets, haven't worn those beyond the yard yet. They sure give you good protection in a windstorm. They go right over the white coverings too and help protect your head. Another good thing about them is if you suffer from allergies you are fairly well protected from allergens, and mine have a good brim.

   You are helping me decide to just "go for it" Barbara, and I thank you Friend.

    My neighbors have seen me.  They haven't said a thing mean to me, but they are mostly nice people who would not do that.

      I don't look significantly different except for the covering, and it has been a few months. I go to where is needed and not beyond that. That is pretty much how my life has been lived anyway.  Have been wearing the various dresses now for several months. I like them for coverage, comfort, and modesty. Mine are well-made and durable.  I am wanting to be living as the Bible and Jesus tell us to, and try to with all my heart, mind, and soul.

   For one thing people have not seen me up walking all that long. I have just been out of a wheelchair since last April.  I was healed by the Lord for a reason after two years in that thing, walking with crutches only and more comfortable then in the chair. Now we don't even have the wheelchair ramp anymore. Everything is available if needed again but hope is to be walking strongly and steadily as this testimony goes on. It has been just almost exactly two years since two weeks in a coma with klebsiella pneumonia. I knew nothing. My husband's boss prayed over me the night before I woke up and from some deep dark place I felt warmth above me as his hands moved over me. I wanted to get up to that place from out of the dark and I did. Had to relearn some things and walking was one of them. I can walk.  I was unsteady at first but practice made me stronger. It was not my time to go but I can share with you what happened and what has followed. I am comfortable on my feet and knew I was doing all for Jesus, with Jesus and because of Jesus. I did not know my prayer style is that of my Quaker ancestors. Its fine with me. I want to fellowship, to know more, to learn more because this life that is left is more than just the plain dress. Its about living, and learning, discerning what Jesus has for me next.

 

Carolyn

Carolyn - What a wonderful story! May God bless your journey from here on out, as I know He is doing! I would love to hear more about your experience if you care to share.

In Christ's Love,

Barb

 My days are simple as is my dress.  The least simple of things but yet the most powerful is discernment. How we try to ascertain Christ's purpose for us. I can only speak from the things that happened to and are happening, to me. We have a teenage daughter yet at home with Asperger's and her days require me to be whole and in full attendance to her needs.   How can I do that if my prayer life and ability to minister to her are lacking? Jesus is my rock to lean on in every aspect of a an almost constant mental conversation with Him.  It feels a powerful pair of arms are holding me up when walking and when preparing mentally to converse with a child who sees life differently than most. Then there is my husband who gets a bit discouraged at times with his own ability to handle the child, when he really needs to 'let go and let God' as they say. I try to hold him up too and the arms of Jesus are strong enough to hold the three of us, when I am the only one who cries out for His Spirit to fulfill and lift my husband, daughter and our grown children.  I don't cry aloud but mentally in prayer and it seems to never fail that Good and the right path open up to help us over the rough spots. For so long the path has been so narrow and I mean that both literally and figuratively. I used to fall a lot when relearning to walk but learned that you just have to get up and keep going. You can fall in Spirit also but it is possible to let His Arms help you right back up and get that smile on your face because you know He won't let you down.

   A good deal of this is how I learned patience, kindness, faith, hope and the gladness that is called

Love. The patience was first. It was the hardest to learn. It was months to learn. With it came kindness, being nicer to people. And that strengthened my faith as my conversations with God became full of clarity. Die Bibel helped and helps, with that. Hope is the fruit of patience and kindness. By the time you learn the patience, kindness and hope, one day you realize, "God has finally taught me to love!" In that, love is gladness. And it was always there, deep inside just waiting to be discovered. "Better late than never" is a good adage.  Faith comes from the persistence and deep desire to love God and the innate longing we all have to BE loved. Now, it seems its come to my sharing with others. I am clumsy at it but will do my best. Sometimes when you become spiritually stronger you become physically, mentally, and emotionally stronger. Those are the Fruits ot the Spirit. I never thought to apply them that way until the trials that began two years ago with that klebsiella pneumonia. That was a trial for me, during which time I was a trial to my family who did not know would I live or die. Well, I lived through the prayers of others and the benevolence of Christ. Now it was my turn to carry a burden awhile and relearn some things. So I did and  found a song In my heart each day. You can only live one day at a time, anyway. Each day I wait patiently on the Lord. He shows just what will happen as the day unfolds. Into my heart he comes and relieves the burden. "Come to Me all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest" He tells us. And He means it!:)

Carolyn

Carolyn - So much of your journey resonates with mine. In fact I believe it was dealing with my Asperger's son that pushed me over the edge into the waiting arms of Jesus! I finally had a day when I said "I don't want to live in anger anymore" and a few days later I woke up in a cloud of happiness and warmth that was Christ. That was a few years ago and the beginning of what promises to be a lifelong journey of learning to "Come to Me..."so he can give me rest. We have 4 adopted kids in addition to our 5 older birth children and I can clearly see now that those adopted ones are here to push me along my path to God, and boy have they done it! It was as if my five were not hard enough for me and so did not stretch me far enough to throw me into his arms. I could do that pretty much on my own. So I needed something harder!! Sounds like your illness had a similar effect on you and yours.

My prayers are right there with you,

Barb

PS My husband has a much harder time with our Aspie than I do - though I struggle mightily, more earlier than now. He often just can't deal with it and has to close himself off. I learned to pull myself back to a more objective distance from our son and try to not get involved in arguments!!! which he thrives on, or seems to. I would be happy to email privately about this if you are interested. Send me a friend request if you like.

I did, Friend Barbara. I sent you a message.
 
Barbara Smith said:

Carolyn - So much of your journey resonates with mine. In fact I believe it was dealing with my Asperger's son that pushed me over the edge into the waiting arms of Jesus! I finally had a day when I said "I don't want to live in anger anymore" and a few days later I woke up in a cloud of happiness and warmth that was Christ. That was a few years ago and the beginning of what promises to be a lifelong journey of learning to "Come to Me..."so he can give me rest. We have 4 adopted kids in addition to our 5 older birth children and I can clearly see now that those adopted ones are here to push me along my path to God, and boy have they done it! It was as if my five were not hard enough for me and so did not stretch me far enough to throw me into his arms. I could do that pretty much on my own. So I needed something harder!! Sounds like your illness had a similar effect on you and yours.

My prayers are right there with you,

Barb

PS My husband has a much harder time with our Aspie than I do - though I struggle mightily, more earlier than now. He often just can't deal with it and has to close himself off. I learned to pull myself back to a more objective distance from our son and try to not get involved in arguments!!! which he thrives on, or seems to. I would be happy to email privately about this if you are interested. Send me a friend request if you like.

Hello Barbara and Carolyn, I read some of your stories hear today and thought I would share where I am right now, as I am a bit mystified with it myself! For the past few months I have been learning much about Quaker faith and practice, and have realized that I basically AM a Quaker, altho I have only been to one meeting in my life, and that was a few weeks ago. I currently, and for the forseeable future, worship at an American Baptist Church. I have felt strangely drawn to plain dress for a couple of months now, and have googled it endlessly. But I don't feel led, at this time, to a very formal "religious" plain dress. I am just trying to simply my wardrobe, and to wear jeans less. This is hard. I have worn jeans my whole life. I don't think there is anything immodest about wearing pants, and I am not as comfortable in skirts. But I can't find any jeans that fit me that are not made overseas in sweat shops. Skirts and dresses I can sew myself, so I am trying to wear them more, and am slowly becoming more comfortable in them. But I still would wear pants for activities that call for them, such as riding a bike or a horse or gardening. I also don't think there is any reason to wear long sleeves, I don't believe that there is anything immodest about my arms or legs! Now here is the part that really mystifies me...I keep thinking about wearing a head covering despite the fact that I have always seen it as a symbol of oppression! I think what I like about it is that it is a sign of faith, and a good reminder to be in submission to the Lord. It also seems to me to be a good way to protest against the popular culture. But I hate the thought that people will mis-interpret it and I don't want to be seen as a fundamentalist. So, so far, no head covering for me but I am not sure how much longer that will last. So that's where I am with plain dress at the moment! (besides, as you can see from my photo, I like to wear red lipstick, lol! not exactly plain!)

Patrice - Your post made me smile cause I have felt much of what you are going through. I recently came across some things I had written a few years ago about my leading to plain dress and head covering and my reservations, no actually fears, about it. For me it concerned me that it might look to others that I was taking a "holier than thou" attitude, which I absolutely was NOT! So I wrestled with that for a while. I also had the fear of being judged a fundamentalist, and it was only when Isabel, who is clearly not a fundamentalist, pointed out to me that that is the other person's problem, not mine, that I felt okay with that aspect. It is not our concern how others will judge us, and in fact my experience has been that the majority of folks I run into are MORE comfortable with me in this garb than in my upper-middle class intellingensia clothing that I may have worn before (not that I have ever been stylish, but I'm sure to our local neighbors my clothing had college graduate written all over it). Now I must look somewhat classless, which seems to be a relief to many, though it makes the "class" I came from more uncomfortable. They are the ones most likely to judge others as fundamentalist - should we be modifying our behavior to accommodate that failing of theirs?

I have finally, after much laboring as the Quakers say, come to an understanding of my headcovering for me. And that is that Paul said to wear it "because of the angels". Now I have no idea what that means but I will give him the benefit of the doubt. I had such a longing to wear one I really had no choice but to give in - it wouldn't go away basically. And this is a long-standing thing with me. It probably dates back more than 30 years in some ways. I have been through various styles to see what feels authentic and right and not what I think I should wear. So now mostly I wear either a snood I ordered from Garlands of Grace, or a kerchief style that I sewed from a pattern from Candle on the Hill. Both are nice to me and satisfy me, but are not so blatantly Amish that I feel I am sending confusing messages. But in combination with my long dresses, mostly jumpers, and dark colors, it looks very plain.

I will also share that my daughter, who is an Anthroposophist (Rudolf Steiner follower) started covering when she read that passage in the Bible. She told me that it had a powerful positive effect on her prayer time, and has led her to be more open to God's leadings in the areas of mothering and caring for her husband. My teenage daughters spoke of a calming effect, and I heard from Isabel of a woman who had chronic nightmares go away. I take all these to mean that women may be intended to have a covering, but of course I would never say that all women should do this categorically. Only if led. Very interesting to me.

But it did indeed help me to know that Quaker women who cover are not fundamentalists. And as long as I knew that inside I was okay, especially after I met a number of them and they became friends!

Hope some of this is helpful. God will show you what is right for you. Keep listening to that still small voice. That is all we are to do.

Barb

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