A couple of weeks ago, our First Day school class discussed the Quaker value of Unity. My 12-year-old son illustrated Unity like this:
It's a strong and hopeful image, reflecting a child's view of a world I'd like to live in. The people, and two tigers, are all holding hands all around the world. In the ocean, two narwhals are touching tusks.
Quaker Unity, however is a concept that's not easy for a child to grasp. Even adults have difficulty with the Quaker concept of unity, substituting "consensus" for something that is at core far more mystical. Unity is more synergistic than consensus, more an expression of the Meeting as a whole, more otherworldly in origin. It's not simple intellectual agreement, but rather something that emerges from the core of the gathered Meeting.
I'm not surprised that a 12-year-old couldn't capture that ineffable quality in a drawing.
I was closing Meeting that morning. It's our custom to ask the children to tell us what they've been doing in First Day school. On this particular morning, my 8-year-old son had chosen to sit in Meeting instead of attending First Day school. As I listened to the report, I thought about the child who sat with us through Meeting, and how the Quaker education he received by sitting in worship with us was at least as valuable as the discussion in First Day school. I asked him for a report as well.
"Well," he stammered, nervous and struggling for words, "it was like waiting for God."
A soft "Ah!" went around the Meeting. A reminder, from the mouth of a child, of what it is that we're doing when we gather for worship.
After Meeting, a few curious Friends asked my son whether God had shown up at Meeting. The answer was "Yes."