August 11, 2006

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

A tale of two Shirleys amid my journey of faith

Last year, near Indiana State Fair time in August, a Quaker friend and I lunched at a restaurant near my home.

She gave me a small notice from her Quaker Meetings bulletin. It was titled “Hooked Rug Auction.”

In part, it said, “A handmade rug designed by Shirley Vogler Meister and hooked by her with the help of friends will be auctioned off to raise funds for the Pioneer Building [at the state fairgrounds].” What a surprise to me!

Truth be known, I have never hooked a rug in my life! I’ve bought, cleaned, laundered, shaken and parted with rugs, but I’ve never made one. Such handiwork is not my forte, despite having tried my hand at needlework several times unsuccessfully.

So, how did my name show up in a Quaker bulletin article when the real needlework artist, Shirley Proctor, a longtime member of First Friends (Quaker) Meeting, is the actual creator of the beautiful hooked rug? Well, we are both members of a First Friends Meeting poetry group. I suppose the Shirley names were transposed.

Also, truth be known, I attended worship at First Friends for a couple years in the early 1990s—in addition to practicing my Catholic faith. That was a personally challenging and tumultuous time for me. I felt guided by God to do this.

I was graciously accepted by the First Friends’ pastor, the Rev. Stan Banker, as well as by regular attendees, even though they knew that I, as a cradle Catholic, would not stray from my roots.

These Quaker experiences were like weekly retreats—special times to refresh my soul and confirm my connections with Christ in a different religious setting. To the credit of Catholic friends, not one criticized me for my ongoing search for peace.

I feel so close to Quakers that I sometimes call myself a Catholic Quaker. I learned that at the core of both religions are the essential Christian tenets, virtues and a reverence for quiet prayer. Although much time has passed, I still cherish the richness of Quaker truths that strengthened my Catholic faith, and I am blessed to still have Quaker friends. They might say my experiences at First Friends “spoke to my condition” at the time.

I also deeply respect Shirley Proctor, who creates award-winning original designs for herself and others in and out of state.

Last year at the state fair, my sister and I and our spouses admired her artistry firsthand, including the Indiana-theme hooked rug that was auctioned at the fair. If I could have been there that day, I might have tried to outbid the others.

And how did Shirley Proctor react to the bulletin name error? With the good nature and quiet grace of a true Quaker!

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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