There are sites which seem layered in time; where human history accumulates and seems to remain. The 1816 Farmington Friends Meetinghouse is one of those places. The hand-hewn, barn-frame structure was used as a regular place of worship for sixty years, then served as a special meeting place for the Quakers of western New York - and far beyond - for another half-century.

Though it has been a storage barn for the past eighty years or so, and moved from its original site at the top of the slope at the nearby intersection, for those who know its history, the building still carries the aura of the everyday - and exceptional - Quakerly history which occured there. Even after the passing of 190 years, the heart of the structure is outlined by the hand-hewn, octagonal posts, once supporting the second-floor galleries, as well as adding their strength to the posts and rafters holding up the broad roof. Those eight-sided, vertical building members seem to define the pent-up echoes of the past for the now-wounded Meetinghouse.

If we stand quietly in that space, seeking the Light of True Gathering, the whispers of time seem to rise around us, asking us to listen. If we are mindful enough, then the voices of the past may rise up within us. Using that well-tuned spiritual ear which each Friend uses for worship, we may inwardly hear the voices of those Farmington Friends of the past. Yes, we can easily find the written words of the famous who were invited to speak here: Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the Quakers' own Lucretia Mott, William Lloyd Garrison, Susan B.

But those well-known names are simply the embroidery upon the strong, homespun material of those, who in their everyday lives here in Western New York, supported equal rights for people of all races, genders and religions and who, in actively opposing slavery, waged the very first
American civil rights campaign. The lesser known, the unknown of the past are those whose voices whisper about us when we practice "true Gathering" in such a place. If we take our corporate Friendliness to heart, we must do that which the Light leads us to do, to preserve this
Quakerly, national and humane legacy for the Friends - and friends - of the future.

Marie Kent Parsons - 9 April 2006

No comments: