A little over twenty years ago, we were floundering.  We’d become very disenchanted with most organized religion, despite a few long and intimate involvements with a variety of churches.  We’d served in administrative and lay capacities in several congregations, had close friends in the ministry, and other friends that we believed would identify themselves as devout Christians.  But something was missing for us.


We identified a lot with Gandhi, admiring Christ, but rejecting Christians as so unlike the One after whom they were named.  We wondered if anyone had a clue of what was truly going on in the world or saw where it was headed and, if so, whether they wanted to do anything about it.  We’d pretty much lost hope.  I guess you could say we’d stumbled off the path on our journey of faith and we felt a major void in our lives.  We knew that we needed to do something – anything – to turn things around.


About that time, we came across an article about a place where you could go to recycle.  Recycling hadn’t become popular back then, but we saw it as a very small and personal step that we could take to make a positive difference for the planet.  So we packed our car and off we went, never suspecting that the opportunity to pass our garbage on to someone else would change our lives forever.


We arrived at a small building in SW Portland, where we met a young woman.  She seemed genuinely happy to see us and even more than willing to answer all our questions and satisfy our growing curiosity.  No, she wasn’t a saint and she didn’t appear to be one of those high society “do-gooders.”  She was just an ordinary person – a lot like us, or rather like we used to be.  Obviously, she had “faith.”


She spoke rationally, passionately, and knowledgeably about recycling and more.  She talked about peace, saving the environment, ensuring social justice, treating all persons equally and with respect, without regard to color, nationality, religion, economic status, sexual preference, etc., all as if it was actually possible and within our grasp.  In general, she wanted to make the world a better place for all its inhabitants.  Alright, so maybe she was an angel sent to help us find our way back.


What started out as a planned stop and drop turned into more than two hours.  We came away with a sense of having met someone who genuinely cared about two strangers (actually about all strangers and everyone everywhere).  We also took away a lot of informational material.  It didn’t take us very long or involve too much study on our parts to realize that we had always been Quakers; we just didn’t know it until we met that wonderful stranger.


Thank you, God, for leading us to West Hills Friends and thank you, Sally, for opening that door.  — Randy Hack