okay… i’m going to be lazy and just cut and paste what i wrote for my livejournal, and some day i’ll add more about this whole thing. but at least SOMETHING will be here about it.

Friday, December 7th, 2007 7:59 pm

honestly? honestly.

“profound disappointment” and “let down” got stuck in my head.

i couldn’t sleep. i mean, i could. i always can, eventually. but i could not sleep for a very long time. i tossed and turned and mulled and stewed.

in the morning, it felt the same. all day all day all day, i held that disappointment. along with fear. fear and disappointment. and disappointment and fear.

i got to the meetinghouse early for study group, which is nice now that i have a key. as i got to the door, steve was leaving, and he asked me about the night before.

“i think i’m a little disappointed.”

“you know, cubbie, we should talk. i’ve heard that from other people before.”

and at that, something inside me rested and calmed down.

i let myself into the building, set water to boil, and unlocked the library. as i settled in with my tea, i found a pendle hill pamphlet to read: “An Attender At The Altar. A Sacramental Christian Responds To Silence.”

i recently read a book. sarah miles’ take this bread, about her conversion to episcopalianism. and ever since then, there have been these questions about why quakerism, exactly. and it’s gone all crazy. because san francisco is so gay that it almost doesn’t matter what faith i might want to practice, they will all be queer friendly. and so why why why. and i think there is something, but as the time got close, i started to panic about the way that i hadn’t explored all world faiths. how is it that suddenly i’m taking some form of christianity as a given part of my faith? so many questions.

and i LOVE them. and i feel slow and deliberative and patient and excited and sad and scared and disappointed all at once.

i read until exactly 7. and then i went to the study group, surprising people coming in the back way. and i sat with them and just felt so heavy and light at the same time.

it’s a time when everything either slips past or sinks in deep.

i got a ride home afterwards, and as soon as i sat in the car, i said, “charles, i’ve felt really weird since my clearness committee.”

“weird how?”

“i don’t know…”

and i fumbled around words (and i’m still fumbling around words. and i’ve found some good ones, and i’ve lost some others.). and somehow we realized that i just wanted “something deeper.” he made that sound really possible and suggested that i bring it up with someone in my committee.

and more lifted.

and i’ve thought more and listened more within. and this morning i called robin about something else, and then mentioned it, and suddenly i was on the bus and tears were running down my face. not as disconnected as that sounds. just that our conversation flowed and they weren’t sad tears or choking tears, they were just the tears that happen to me sometimes because of speaking from my depths and i hardly notice them and then suddenly i am aware that i am on the bus and crying.

she asked me what question i was afraid or wanted to be asked. and i didn’t know.

and then i got off the phone and the bus and as i was crossing the street to have lunch with stephen, i realized that question is, “why this and not something else?”

and so at lunch, i told him all of this, and then asked him that question.

and at some point my own answer came out. “i think for me, god and, i guess christianity, and quakerism, are all about community. and this community feeds me. and i wonder if another place would feed me the same and i’m afraid that might be true.”

and we talked about the shopping approach to religion and “what are we called to do.” and our own issues around what makes any choice any different than any other, in faith and in relationships. and just all sorts of things. in that way that we are different and yet we get each other in this really amazing way that i value so much.

and i feel okay now. and excited. and it feels right now.

… and so that’s how my clearness committee went. i have another one in january. i’m looking forward to it.

something that didn’t make it into that post that i’m saying now, at work, after the store has been closed for 2 and a half hours and i stopped cleaning half an hour ago, is how 2 days after that post, i spoke at meeting for worship.

i told that whole story, in different words, plus the new thing i found that morning, which was that the community was the way it was, our friendship was the way it was, because of our friendship with god.

it was a very powerful morning. someone else had been contemplating the same message for two weeks. and i even told myself a little joke that i shared with people later, which was just asking myself, “cubbie, were you honestly so afraid that these people would be upset that you wanted to join their community because you loved them so much?”

and so… that. since then, those questions have come in different forms, and i get a little turned off and terrified by the smugness in the idea that we are the only friends of god. but then i remember that that’s not what was meant. what was meant that i appreciate our sincere attempt. that’s what brings me back each week. and maybe there’s something else “better for me” out there. but this is so good, i don’t feel like looking right now.

Published in: on 17 December, 2007 at 6:38 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi Cubbie,

    I love your writing style, by the way. It’s real. It has humility. And it’s not inaccessible like some other Quaker blogs I read, yet just as deep and intelligent.

    It is comforting for me to read your process of joining Quakers and your doubts and fears. It is more comforting to me to talk to other Seekers and those new to Quakerism than those who have been in it for a long time. You and I are part of the same generation too, which also helps me.

    When I was going off on “grown ups” Robin asked me who I was talking about. And I realized some of the people I was talking about were in our SF Meeting, and others were people I’ve never met but have read their blogs and gotten comments from them and emails. And that’s when I realized people must be very careful about integrity because in this day and age, the reality lines blur. At first I blamed myself for weighing online people and real people as equals, but then I caught myself and said, “Allison, you are 25 years old. You have grown up in a world of technology. If you simultaneously turn to the online world and the real world, that is typical of your generation. That is not your fault and you should not be apologizing for your reacting to Quakerism across the country. It is all real.”

    So yes, it is important to pick the right religion for you, even though in the microcosm of San Francisco all faiths are gonna be pretty diversity-friendly, because once you get out to the rest of the country, it might not be that way. I think it’s totally fair to ask these questions here and now.

    Anyway, whatever happens, I have the same questions as you.

    Peace, Allison

  2. Cubbie, I truly appreciate the raw vulnerability you express here–it is how we come to know one another in a deep way–and I am personally glad that you are wrestling with some very important questions, especially about membership!

    Other than myself, you are the only other person I know of who has or has had a membership clearness committee before they themselves were already perfectly clear that they were Quakers internally and that Quakerism was right for them. I also am REALLY GLAD you could take some of your wrestling to other fFriends, and that they were able to call you out a bit further.

    Sounds like you are taking care of yourself. It’s okay to take as much time as you need.

    Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

  3. hi, liz,

    thank you for your comment. it’s funny because i never thought of it in exactly those terms… and it’s also funny because, i felt really really sure before the process started and then in the week before my clearness committee, i just became so unsure again. what am i doing? why? etc, etc.

    but as i said in my membership letter, i DON’t have all the answers, but this seems like the right place to be asking them. i think it just came home to me that i’ll never really stop asking questions. not a surprise, really, but sometimes you realize things you knew all along.

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