at meeting for worship this past sunday, there were a lot of messages about the world and all that’s happening out in it… and if we’re willing to listen to god if god asks us to go, move, and do something about it.

it made me itchy. maybe because i’m not as informed about the rest of the world as i think i probably should be. maybe because i don’t feel like i’m doing enough. maybe because i was in a place of judgment of other people that i couldn’t get out of. maybe i just had a soapbox.

these moments have happened before, where suddenly i find myself feeling so passionate and so frustrated about something in meeting for worship or other quaker things that i immediately don’t trust it. it must be so much from me that no light is coming in, and i’m blinded by my own self and my own agenda.

my concern about “diversity” is like that. it feels so big and important to me that i fear it’s just my own thing, and my real leading is elsewhere.

AHA! in that sentence, i found in myself my issue with… what i have an issue with that i hadn’t quite put into words yet.

my family moved a lot. i’m closer to 30 dwelling places than i am to 30 years old. it came out of a combination of wanderlust, poverty, and family ties. and then after i went to college, i wound up moving a lot, too. and i will probably move many more times. i want to settle down, but there’s always some reason why this place isn’t it anymore.

so that’s my bias, my lens– the one that moving is great and exhausting and important… and it takes you away. you move and you get to be a stranger, you get to reinvent yourself, you get to screw up and have it be okay, you get to be welcomed, you get to be missed, you get to be surrounded by people who are foreign and other. this happens to some degree whether you move across town or across the world.

and i can’t get easy with the idea that god calls us to that exotic strangerhood over the deep sinking in to our neighborhoods, into our communities, into the big scary issues that are always right there and ready to be dealt with. there’s poverty, hunger, injustice, violence everywhere– in ourselves, in our next door neighbors, and yes, in communities across the world. and there is definitely something to be said for taking us and our rights and our privileges across the world and using those to help people who have less rights and privileges.

but in this weird way, it’s easier than taking us and our rights and our privileges across the street and using those to help the people there. because we might both stick around. we might change things and they might stick and we might have to continue to be responsible.

do we move when the spirit says move? can we even hear, respect, and heed it when the spirit says to stay right here? wow, that’s so much less interesting. but i’m starting to think… maybe just for me… but maybe not… that it might be more important.

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hmm, I like your process of discernment. And yet I think it must be the Light coming through, because it sounds like the Truth to me.

  2. Hey cubbie–

    I have found it immensely helpful to pray and/or stay in worship when God gives me a message I don’t quite understand.

    “Move when the Spirit says move” might mean get up and DO something, or do something OVER THERE. But it also might mean stay on the alert and be ready to speak up. Or it might mean stay put so you can be a presence to something that’s going to happen right under your nose.

    In addition, I think we have to be careful of “seeking the thrill” of being “anywhere but here,” especially if it’s discerned that indeed, God wants us to stay put.

    In my own experience, when I was testing a leading to travel in the ministry, I was rather horrified to hear from the clearness committee that it was their discernment that I was meant to share the concern I was carrying within the meeting and not to take it outside of the meeting just yet.

    Wow, what a bummer THAT was!

    But, in retrospect, it now appears as though the committee’s discernment was spot-on: much has happened within the meeting since then, and I’m glad there were other Friends to help me test more fully just where and how God was telling me to “move.”

    Blessings,
    Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

  3. Then there is the constant tug, meeting after meeting, and me just digging in my heels. I’d much rather stay with the less interesting.


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