I used to think that to “elder” in the Quaker sense, meant you had to be old, an elder. Often, that’s true. But to think in that way, can cut us off from the wisdom of the young, who elder us as well.
It can mean admonishment, maybe, but not usually. Admonishment can be given with love, with guidance from the Spirit. Or it can be given in a hurtful way. We all have our prejudices. But pushing them on others is not useful or fair, to the Meeting community nor the person in question.
Case in point is the Friend in our Meeting who has made it clear that she feels reading in Meeting is not appropriate. That it blocks our ability to connect with God. She even went so far as to confront another Friend at the front door when she saw him bringing a book into Meeting.
There are many ways to connect with God. We have to be open to the way that feels “right” for us. I read a devotional passage or something from Faith and Practice at the start of the silence, which draws me in. I may start out with that passage, and then see where it takes me. Some folks journal. Others meditate. Others pray. Many people sit quietly listening for God.
I won’t tell this Friend that I sometimes let my son read a bit of Harry Potter for part of the Meeting. What canst though say?