On March 19, 2003, I watched in horror as the United States carried out its threats to make “Shock and Awe” a reality in Iraq. Deep psychological pain enveloped me as the bombs rained down. The realization that our government had used lies and subterfuge to get us to destroy thousands of people who had done nothing to us was overwhelming.


At this time my husband Wilbur and I were attending church in Vancouver where we live. I felt lonely and isolated in this Presbyterian community as I did not feel free to share my pain with others. In desperation I said to Wilbur, “Do what you wish, but I am going to the Quakers.” Both of us had Quaker friends, so their peace testimony was well known to us.


My best friend, who was a Quaker, went with me to visit four meetings in the Vancouver-Portland area. None of these seemed to say, “Yes, this is the place.”


In desperation I called another Quaker friend, Dan, to tell him of my dilemma.


Dan’s response was, “Well, Lorie, there’s one other meeting that you might want to visit. It’s called West Hills Friends Church in southwest Portland.  If you go, you have to know that you will probably be the oldest person there.” (“No problem, Dan; I’m usually one of the oldest people wherever I go.”) “And they may laugh, or clap, or even raise their hands.” (“That’s okay, Dan. I can do all of those actions.”)


As Easter Sunday neared, Wilbur and I agreed to attend church together on that day. He said, “Let’s go to the Quaker meeting that Dan told you about!”


I called to get directions to West Hills Friends. A friendly voice answered, and I was surprised to be speaking with the pastor, not a secretary. Pastor Mike’s directions were easy to follow.


On Easter morning of 2003, we walked into West Hills Friends church as we have continued to do on each Sunday since. I crossed the threshold looking for a refuge from the winds of war, and discovered so much more—a community and a home.

—Lorie Wood