Yeurgh. Ali was crashing around the house at 4.30, and so despite the fact that I had only got to bed at 1am, I was wide awake at 4.30. I was thinking about the meeting yesterday, tried to get back to sleep but couldn't, and so I have been awake for over an hour and have no prospect of getting back to sleep. And so to blog....
I was busy, busy, busy before meeting yesterday. Outreach committee were meeting and I was needing to print out the agenda and a copy of the email from Beth Allen, for the meeting and I was out of black ink. I managed to print in a reddish purple colour that was legible, and gathered together the other things I wanted for the meeting... a copy of Quaker Quest that I bought at Friends House, a copy of the framework for action.
I left the house in good time and arrived at meeting by about 10.20am, shook hands with David who was greeting yesterday and sat down in meeting by 10.25 am, where there were already about four people sitting.
I usually find it quite easy to centre down in meeting. It's a hard process to explain to someone else, but it is a combination of relaxing, quietening your inner voice, and falling into the waiting which happens in meeting. Sometimes it is hard, and all the things you ought to be doing, are behind with, should be thinking about start to clamour for attention, and sometimes it is easy and you fall into a calm state of opening to the moment.
I was aware of people coming in settling down and the odd sighing outbreath that a lot of people make when they relax into the meeting. What usually happens is that the meeting gradually settles after the last person comes in. The greeter usually stays in the outer room until about 15 minutes into the meeting and then comes and sits down.
Usually it is quiet unless someone gets up to speak. What I loved about Quakers when I first came to it and love about it still is how many of the people who get up tell a story about what they are thinking or have been doing, not in a preaching way, but in a matter of fact, explanatory way. It is easy to listen in an open way.
However, yesterday there were bangs and thumps... a lot of noises generally, including a thump on the piano. That wouldn't have been such a shock except that the piano is in the meeting room, and no one was near it or touching it. If it had been a harmonic sound of the wind through the strings, that wouldn't have been such a shock either - it was a windy day yesterday. But this was a thump as though someone had pressed down on a bunch of keys with their hand.
I'm not clear when exactly the first thump on the piano was. The greeter came in, and there were noises in the rest of the meeting house as though there was a child out there - I thought there *was* a child out there. There were creakings like footsteps, doors creaking, and sound of the toys in the small meeting house being touched... a small piano played, a whistling noise, sounds like things being picked up and put down. I started to feel quite cross - maybe there was someone doing something like cleaning or reorganising, but surely that could wait until after meeting? Then when I heard the toy piano go, I thought it must be a child out there.
I tried to ignore it, but eventually David went out of the room, I assumed to remonstrate with the person concerned. He came back and things were quiet for a while, and then the noise started up again - I thought I heard someone in the corridor, more thumps and bangs, and when I heard the toys again, I decided that whoever it was wanted attention, and went out myself to see if they needed to talk, because they sure were drawing atention to themselves!
I went to the small meeting house, but there was no one there. Looking into the kitchen, no one. The committee room, loos, corridors, garden, no one. The side door had been pulled to, and the inner door blocked so that it couldn't move. I later learned that this was what David had done when he came out. I went back into meeting, and it was quiet for about five minutes and then the piano played again.
After meeting I discovered that David had found no one in the meeting house, and had pulled the doors to and blocked the inner one, in case it was the wind causing the sounds. Of course, it must have been the wind causing the sound effects, although I thought it was very strange that the piano should sound a chord like that - a discordant chord, but definitely the hammers striking the strings. My daughter suggested maybe a lorry passing by might have caused a vibration, but I've lived with pianos for most of my life, and I have never known one to do what that one did.
It isn't the first time either. People often talk of the piano sounding during the meeting. Oddly, we had our outreach committee after meeting, and there weren't any of the bumps and bangs. The piano was silent. Which is just as it should be.