Dear Anne (and all of Third Haven),
I write this letter to you with an enormous amount of excitement, under which is a calm layer of peace in knowing that I am doing the right thing. I have attended Third Haven as often as I could for the past year, and I have never felt so much at home in a religious community before. I came to you all, timid and worried, because my search for a religious home hadn't been going well. But at that first meeting I attended, I felt like I had returned home after being away for a long time. This feeling has only grown with each subsequent meeting.
I feel that I am ready to become a Member, and I hope this application for Membership is accepted. While my physical limitations are many, I try to live my life by Christ's inspiration and God's love. Finding Quakerism has made me proud of my faith again, proud to call myself a Christian. I don't remember the first time I called myself a Quaker, because I knew it was true and didn't have to stop to consider it.
When I was a child, raised Roman Catholic, it was always Christ's love and openness that touched me more than his Crucifixion and Resurrection. I began to believe in a God that not only created everyone, but loved everyone. As I grew older, the idea that only one religion could be the right religion gnawed at me more and more. I believed in Christ, but did I believe in a God who would condemn someone for believing the wrong thing? How egotistical was it to assume that my religion was the right one, that everyone else's was wrong? How could Christians behave in ways that were judgmental and cruel, in ways that didn't remind me in any way of Christ Himself?
I left the Catholic Church for the Episcopal one, which was shown to not be the right home for me. I had been settling for the Episcopal Church as a temporary home and had assumed it was the closest I was going to get to a religious home when an internet quiz pointed me to Quakerism. Internet quizzes are rarely accurate, but I decided to look into Quakerism and learn what I could about it.
Before I came to my first Meeting, I had already read at least three books about Quakerism: "A Quaker Book of Wisdom" by Robert Lawrence Smith, "A Living Faith" by Wil Cooper, and "A Certain Kind of Perfection", which is an anthology of Liberal and Evangelical Quakers. These books opened my mind and convinced me to try Third Haven. Since then, I've read a couple of Rufus Jones's books, George Fox's Journals, Barclay's Apology, and several other books, mostly borrowed from Third Haven's library.
I know that I have more to learn about Quakerism and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in particular, but I've come to feel that my learning should continue as a Member of Third Haven. My physical limitations have prevented me thus far from being able to attend any quarterly or yearly Meetings, but I hope the time will come when my health is well enough and I can find a ride to and from. I don't want to bring my physical issues into this letter more than necessary, but I feel compelled to state that it isn't possible for me to drive myself to and from Meeting. And some mornings when I have rides, I have woken up unable to attend Meeting, though I desire with all my being to be there with you all every Sunday.
And that, ultimately, is how I know that I have found my religious home: because I look forward to Meeting for Worship every Sunday and am truly disappointed and upset when I am unable to attend. Never before has the knowledge that on Sunday I'd be going to Church inspired me throughout the week. I know that the questioning and searching and yearning to draw nearer to God will continue, but I hope that I will be able to continue those pursuits as a Member of Third Haven.
Yours in God's Light,
Tatiana (Tania) Harrison