today, i went to quarterly meeting for the first time. it was in santa rosa, at friends house. it was exciting to go up. i’m glad i got to go. i’m glad sf meeting got to have a young adult presence…

but as i looked around the room, during worship… which maybe i “shouldn’t” have been doing, but i needed to know… i couldn’t see a single person of color. this doesn’t mean that there weren’t any, but there were none that i recognized as such, so maybe i was part of the problem of invisibility of some people of color– but i don’t think there was a giant presence of people of color, no matter how correct my perceptions were. after worship, i went to the restroom, and there was a person of color… cleaning the floor.

as the day went on, i saw most of the participants of quarterly meeting, and i thought of 2 as people of color. i saw about 8 different staff members and thought of 3 as people of color. i saw about 10 residents of the facility who didn’t seem to be participating in the meeting, and about 2 seemed to be people of color.

aren’t i a good ally?

it felt so heavy then.

there was worship sharing along the theme of the day, which was “the still center of the whirlwind.” the queries were about a time that we had felt like we were in a storm, and had an experience of the light…

i couldn’t get out of my current state, so focused on what to do with it. and then i thought about this quote i read recently about grace being having your heart broken by the things that break the heart of god. and of course there’s presumption in believing you know what breaks god’s heart… but i focused on letting my heart be broken. because i suddenly knew that i could only go anywhere if i did that. i could only find joy & courage if i let my heart break.

… but maybe it’s too simple. maybe my joy was my pride in being so “good.” such a good white liberal.

maybe.

i don’t know. all i know is that i felt worn out for the rest of the day, but also called and blessed.

we need to fix this and i need to learn how to help fix this. it is broken, it breaks us, it breaks hearts, and it can be so much better.

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’d say your perceptions of the racial/ethnic make up of the meeting and facility were about right. I think it is important to know that many, many of the other people there have white faces and broken hearts too.

    It was an especially elderly Quarterly Meeting session because Friends House is a retirement community. That made it easier for these long, long time Friends to come, but perhaps the planners didn’t take enough advantage of that fact. Fewer families came, and fewer young people than other times.

    At dinner, I met the two other young adult Friends who were there all day. Two young men, Brian and Hank. Unfortunately, and I’m so embarrassed, I didn’t recognize them as YAF because just last year, they were high school students. I forgot that they crossed that invisible (to me) line.

    This is part of what YAF who grow up in meetings complain about. But it’s the first time it’s happened to me, because these are the first Friends I’ve known since they were clearly children (like 11 when I first met them) and now they’re adults.

    And I really feel badly because I think that if I hadn’t been so blind I could have made some introductions between the SF YAF and them. And I’m afraid that everybody felt a little more lost than necessary.

    I do know that B and H spent some of their time helping with the children’s program, and I think that was really good for the program, and my sons in particular, to have some young male energy as well as the elderly women who were mostly running the program. I hope that the coordinators will plan for that next time, to be sure it happens again.

    And I’m really glad you came. Thanks for helping me out at the end. Thanks for holding up these questions and your own Light on the subject.

  2. Hi cubbie,

    I am glad that you are looking at the diversity issue critically. I think the thing that makes me most upset about it is more that no one else is upset about it. I mean, I like and love white people, I grew up among them. I find it interesting that people often feel the need to point out “well, God loves white people too” as if I didn’t know that already. I wish instead of people saying that, and getting defensive out of guilt, they’d just start thinking diversely. I’ve spent my whole life reading, associating, and learning from/about white people. Now it’s time for me to hear the other side of things. I plan on spending my newfound free time in solitude and prayer/meditation, and meeting more transracial adoptees.

    The concept of heart-breaking open is interesting. Mary Ann, my massage therapist trainer as well as my spiritual role model, said that we had to be prepared to let our hearts break wide open. It is only in being completely broken that they can then be filled with love.

  3. Excerpt from Letter from a Birmingham Jail, which I felt was relevant to your posting:

    I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another mans freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro the wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating that absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.


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