William Penn House

August 08, 2013

For much of my stay in Washington, D.C., I stayed at the William Penn House, a Quaker hostel a few blocks east of the U.S. Capitol building. Named for a prominent Quaker who founded Pennsylvania, it has served as a Quaker house since 1966 (but the place was built in 1917). A large four-story townhouse, it includes several rooms with bunk beds and a nice open floor with a large common area with homey furniture (the photo is one I took of the front of it). Quotations from Penn and other Quakers decorate the walls, and the place features a nice collection of Quaker books and magazines for guests to peruse. An inexpensive place to stay and a great location, lodging there includes a simple breakfast with good coffee. Before breakfast is a voluntary half-hour Quaker worship service. Quaker worship is a time of silent reflection designed to enable the Holy Spirit to speak to each individual. I joined this worship several times during my stay. Although morning is probably not the best time for a time of silence for a non-morning person like myself (as I had to work to remain awake some days), the practice of silent mediation is one many Christians in our busy society probably need more. Coming together for silent worship just blocks from the political hustle and bustle of the Capitol brings a fascinating dimension to the practice. In a city where many voices vie to be the loudest, perhaps silence is a revolutionary rejection of business as usual.