What I remember best is the silence. It seemed to charge the room with a connectedness of yearning.
That take on his first Quaker Meeting is from Edward Sorel’s Mary Astor’s Purple Diary (Liveright, 2016), a book I read after an attention getting review from Woody Allen in the New York Times Book Review.
Sorel’s book is about the actress Mary Astor (Dodsworth, The Maltese Falcon, The Palm Beach Story, Meet Me in St. Louis, and dozens of less memorable ones). The sub-title is “The Great American Sex Scandal of 1936.” The Purple Diary of the title is Mary’s and the salacious prime exhibit in her divorce and child custody lawsuits.
Somehow, and successfully, Sorel (an illustrator and caricaturist) insinuates himself into the book. After all, he first learned about the scandal when he pulled up the linoleum in his New York City apartment and found a collection of old newspapers. Along the way we learn he and his wife Nancy are Quakers.
The book is a a guilty pleasure, but the phrase “a connectedness of yearning” will stay with me. It’s what I hope for in a gathered meeting for worship.