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Framingham Friends Meeting
Sometimes an object seems to us to be particularly picturesque. However, it is not the object alone that produces this effect, but it is the connection in which we see the object with that which is beside, behind, under and above it and which all contribute to that effect ~Goethe
It is fitting that my photographic journey began and ended with Framingham Friends Meetinghouse because it is my Meetinghouse, and therefore it is special to me.
It is a gem of a building. It is not a traditional Quaker Meetinghouse, but it is old, and it does exude all the peace and calm that one would hope to find in a Meetinghouse. I love worshipping in this peaceful space.
Originally, it was a one-room schoolhouse, built in 1839. It was vacant after 1915 and used as a community building for the neighborhood. Friends acquired the building in 1964 for $200.00 and moved it about 150 feet to its present location. In 1974 an addition was built for First Day School rooms and recently a larger kitchen was added.
I love the building but what I mostly love are the people who are members and attenders at Framingham Friends. This community of people is what is beside, behind, under and above the actual building. The building, as much as I love it, is just a building. The people who worship there, who are the community of Framingham Friends, are everything. This mirrors my experience at all the Meetinghouses I photographed, where I was told repeatedly that the community of people was the most important and most special attribute about their meetinghouses.
It seems so long ago when I first began to consider photographing in Quaker Meetinghouses. I wanted to portray my experience in Quaker Meeting, and I was challenged to think about what words I would use to describe it. The words I chose were: Light, simple, centered, peaceful and quiet. As part of my thinking process, I asked my Meeting community to send me their five descriptive words. These words speak of a centered, peaceful worship at the core, and of a loving supportive community. Here are all the "Five Words,", reprinted just as I received them.
~ warm, community, welcoming, stable, centered ~ stillness, gathered, presence, friends, refuge ~ still, rooted, guided ~ warm, dynamic, peaceful, taupe, varied ~ witness, stewardship, testimony, care(ing), welcoming ~ warm, inclusive, supportive, quiet, changing ~ God, Love, Blessing, Community, Peace ~ Light, Joy, Friendship, Love, Peace ~ community, consensus, patience, serene, quiet ~ Acceptance, Love, Community, Grace, Depth ~ I think of Meeting for Worship as a process (case sensitive): 1. silence 2. restlessness 3. composure 4. Spirit 5. Community ~ simple, direct, authentic, sacred, shared ~ Friendly, Peaceful, Spirit, Meditative, Tranquil ~ sanctuary, community, peculiar, covered, friends ~ history, plain, quiet, welcome, community ~ Curiosity, Humility, Seeking, Challenging, Questioning ~
These words, I believe, communicate the essence of the Quaker experience of today. Many of the buildings I have photographed have been historic buildings. They are beautiful and important to preserve. The history of the Quakers is an important piece of who we are as an entity, but it is just the beginning of the story. The words above help to communicate the essence of our Quaker experience today.
I have learned so much during this photographic journey. I have enjoyed it to the fullest, and am still enjoying it. I know much more about Quakerism and about Quakers in the world today. I hope my photographs portray the essence of Quakerism. This is my last blog and the last meetinghouse posting, at least for now. As I wrap up this final blog posting, I would like to thank all of my readers and supporters. I have appreciated the words of encouragement and support, and just plain interest in the topic. Thank you!
The picture below is found in the room in the Framingham Meetinghouse named "The Uplift Room". I think the words on the blackboard are perfect for a posting about community. Respectful listening is a basic community building skill. This sign was probably used at one time for a worship sharing group, but still remains in this little back room today. The small portrait beside it is of John Greenleaf Whittier, who was a Quaker in Amesbury. I am not sure how the portrait came to be here in this small room, but there it is.
Jean, congratulations on a beautiful and heartfelt portfolio. Your photos and 'five words' descriptions speak directly to my own experience of Meeting. Your gift of infusing formerly lifeless objects with light, love, and spirit is truly astounding. My favorites are our own shared Framingham Friends Meetinghouse. Thank you for sharing.
Your work - words and images are wonderful. Thanks for taking on this project and for letting us be part of your journey.
It's been a pleasure - each picture a gem : )
Jean, what a wonderful project that allowed you to give so much to the Quaker Family. It also was very rewarding for me as I knew very little so was able to learn a lot over the past couple of years.
Your photos were spectacular and you always found something special about each meeting house that was able to speak to those reading the posts.
Congratulations on a job well done.
E Grace Broderick-Noonan(non-registered)
Jean, I have loved this project. I want to say something deep and profound, but all that keeps getting typed is: "I have loved this project. In my bones and at a cellular level, I have loved this project."
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