When Evan was a little boy, his parents sent him to Quaker school because he was small for his age and the public school was rough. During rest period in the Quaker school, the children lay on the padded benches in the Meeting room. Evan looked up at the ornamented vent in the center of the domed ceiling and felt that the Holy One of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob rested there, looking down on him and his classmates.
Evan didn’t understand why he was in this strange place. Later on, he found out about the quotas on admission of Jewish students to the universities and how he would appear less Jewish if he came from a Quaker school. He liked the school and the silent Meeting. People would get up to speak when the spirit moved them, which was not so often. Evan also liked the idea of listening to the still, small voice within oneself. His mother told him this idea came from their own Elijah the Prophet.
After he grew up, Evan was sent to a Quaker college, where he found a Quaker girlfriend. Joannie was from a family of seven children and knew how to make soap from scratch, milk a goat, plant a garden to feed a family, and many other things one didn’t learn in a Jewish family in Brooklyn. Although Joannie originally planned to practice nursing in the Amazon after graduation, Evan convinced her they would have a better chance of changing the world if they formed an intentional community in the far north of Canada. So the two of them left the Quaker college, moved into a cheap apartment in New York City, and started preparing to go one thousand miles north of the US-Canadian border.
Evan and Joannie approached their journey north like a research project. They spent hours reading anthropological accounts in the Museum of Natural History library, taking notes and making detailed sketches of how to build a shelter in the forest, hunt, fish, weave cloth, dry meat, make furniture, and deliver babies. Eventually they had more than 1000 pages of instructions for their new life, and they bound it all together to make their own book.
In the meantime they tried to save money to finance their intentional community. Evan took a job in a button factory, building up his strength by moving heavy boxes of buttons. His coworkers were interested in this young man with so many plans. But when Evan tried to persuade them that a better society was possible, they said they never wanted to leave the button factory. One of them argued that even after the revolution, people would still need buttons. They didn’t hear the same still, small voice that Evan and Joannie heard.
Copyright © Leora Freedman 2016
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