i know the secret to life. i’m okay when everything is not okay.

i’m at one of those magnificently shaky times where i feel like i have grasped the secret of the universe. *laughs*

it’s one of those times where i feel really grounded and like i’ve “got it” — but i know from experience that these moments are actually just a flicker in a life. that the thing that i’ve got will become part of my being, or i might even forget it, and not long from now, i will be caught up in the drama and confusion again.

i feel steady, but i know that factually, i am new to this faith, i am young, i am in love, i am myself in all of my flaws, and so i know that there will be more insights to come, and that i am coming at my life through this one lens.

BUT paradoxically, that knowledge makes me feel all the more grounded. because this awareness of my particular position, and this acceptance of that… is new.

the historical meaning of the word “convinced” in quaker terms, as i understand it, is something more along the lines of “convicted” than, um, believing something that’s been proven to you, as we understand the word today. i feel like that has happened to me recently. i feel like i have a path to follow and i need to be true to it, and i have been convicted in that way.

there’s always been that self-hate aspect to my understanding of christianity. i always thought that i could only get to know god if i hated myself. and the narrative that i hear so frequently about this “convincing” involves this sudden belief in one’s unworthiness.

and now i think i’m there. but it’s not unworthiness like… i’m bad. but this unworthiness like, i’ve got this tall order coming in from god, will i be faithful or will i get lost? and also this deep deep gratitude for everything, and feeling awed by that. we are all unworthy of this universe, and yet we are part of it and that is acceptable.

at some early morning session at our meetinghouse, someone from m&o said this thing– and it resonated, but of course now i’ve forgotten the exact words or where he got it from– but it was something like “you are fine just the way you are AND you could use some work.” and for me, that’s exactly IT right now.

i’ve been wrestling a lot with self-compassion and compassion for others lately. defensiveness and welcoming and sitting in sorrow and not trying to fix things immediately. and i feel like that quote is the secret to it. for me right now. i am fine just the way i am AND i could use some work. the people who i can’t stand right now… the people who i love but who disappoint me… the people who i adore… it’s true for us all. we are all connected and interconnected by this odd mix of being the exact right products of our pasts and also these bundles of unfulfilled possibilities. and it’s really beautiful.

and so i’ve been letting my heart get broken by all my flaws and all the flaws of the community i love… but i’m not letting it stop there. i CAN’T save us all from ourselves and i don’t actually want to (well, maybe sort of. i’m struggling with my desire to be a superstarsuperherobestbestbestever person). i accept that (again… sort of. *laughs*). but i can do what i can do. i can learn what i can learn and i can teach what i can teach… and i’m excited and terrified by that.

yes yes yes.

(this just in! the quote is from pema chödrön. it’s actually “you are perfect just the way you are and you could use a little work.” her teacher said it to her.)


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I know I’m a bit of a heretic–well, a heathen, anyway! 🙂 But I think you’re onto something, cubbie; I really do. I love the Pema Chodron quote! Because I think that’s what we’re really being asked to hear. What does God want with our shame and our guilt and our self-hate? I know that when I’m caught up in that failure place, obsessing on all the things I have not done that need doing in the world, all the fixing I haven’t got around to, I feel like God is impossibly far away.

    But when I shut up already, inside myself, and just shrug and laugh and say, “Yeah–I dropped the ball again. Crap!” and let it go and try to move onward, well, then the Light comes back in.

    And it always feels like joy. Maybe it’s not always true, or always true for everyone, but so far, God feels like joy (even if following the actual leadings can sometimes be kind of hard for me).

    Have you read Will T’s recent post on Barclay and the old Quaker idea of perfection? If I’m understanding it right, it’s about getting past the “I’m sooo bad” stage of moral searching, and finding that Light, and loving It and letting It in enough that we become, not so much perfect in the sense of being flawless in ourselves, but of being “being so spiritually filled that nothing that would take you away from that state is of any interest.”

  2. I feel more grounded now too. I think I was spending too much time with Quakers and it was doing this weird thing where Quakerism was getting me down, not up. Chad once mentioned that he doesn’t find Quakerism particularly filled with Light or Joy. Even though everyone talks about how it’s supposed to be Light and Joy.

    There are a lot of pieces that don’t feel right for me. Usually the missing pieces come out in rants and raves by me. I want to work on them but I don’t know how.

    I think I was focusing on the race issue too much, because that is one of the symptoms of what’s missing. My boyfriend said that people usually describe things as being “white” when they really mean “square”. I think this is what my problem is. Quakerism feels to me kinda square. I think this is the reason behind why there is not more diversity.

    People have said that they are interested in our YAF group. I want our YAF group to be fun, I want it to be filled with life and Light and Joy that Chad says Quakerism doesn’t have.

    I’ve been reading a lot about Jesus lately too. My book says he took a lot of time to himself. I was not having any time to myself at all with my new Quaker duties. Like, zip zero zilch. That was bad. I’m not gonna do that again. I became ungrounded. And with these Captain Mystic experiences (have you seen my myspace pic of a girl with a unicorn horn on her head “I’m so mystical!”?) it made me grouchy that Quakerism wasn’t meeting those … things… I saw. But I know it never will if I can’t find the right way to explain them. But I have to explain them by being calm and compassionate and not so freaky and ravy. And I can only get calm and compassionate when I take time alone. So… what do I do?

    I just rambled all over your page. Sorry!

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