you say “well hey, it’s about time” and i say “no, no it’s about love”

there’s a post i’ve been holding onto for months, maybe years. i’m actually sitting here trying to write it and have managed to get halfway through it twice before highlighting the whole thing and hitting delete. i think of it as the post that’s gotten in the way of writing here regularly anymore, but it just won’t come out either.

it’s about my confusion about accountability to myself, from others, and to my meeting. it’s about calling and that falling away or shifting and not knowing where it went and not knowing how to ask for support and feeling bitter that it wasn’t just offered and feeling guilty for wanting other people to follow all of my whims and fluctuations. it’s about my desire to be more aware of others’ whims and fluctuations. it’s about accidentally almost joining a cult. it’s about the death of a member of my clearness committee. it’s about diversity and social justice and the question of if quakerism really is for everyone. it’s about how still and all, the majority of my friends are white. it’s about struggling as a teacher. it’s about crying at the meeting retreat two years ago because i just desperately wanted to give all of my students the type of experience i was having right then. it’s about how i don’t understand the valuable experiences my students have. it’s about wanting to write more. it’s about wanting to be more of what i think a quaker should be. it’s about living far from my meeting. it’s about feeling far from my meeting. it’s about feeling close to my meeting. it’s about unexpected phone calls from members of my meeting when i am feeling low or am across the country. it’s about feeling distance and then suddenly feeling overly close. it’s about being a grown-up. it’s about trying to infuse my teaching with quakerism. it’s about leaving and coming back. it’s about bitterness and angst and self-recrimination. it’s about deciding. it’s about not deciding. it’s about confusion, sadness, and joy. it’s about days slipping by. it’s about living.

maybe now that that’s all out of the way, i can start focusing on god again.

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trying to read some blogs for once. i’m sort of debating getting a netbook at some point in the nearish-esque future, because i really don’t have a lot of time in front of a computer where i can really sit down and read or write. my emails feel very scattered because they are fast unconnected sentences with as much info as i can remember to include in a very short period of time. this isn’t because i’m particularly busy, but because the computers i use aren’t mine, so i always feel slightly invasive. this has been the case for years, but i think i’m ready to regain my computing independence. especially since i plan on going back to school in the summer/fall.

it’s been interesting, because the little bit of reading i just did all sort of “speaks to my condition.” let’s see if i can explain it in a semi-swift but still complete manner.

as you may know, i’ve had a sort of concern about diversity. this seemed to be leading me toward niyonu spann’s beyond diversity 101 workshop, but that has been postponed multiple times and now i’m not sure if or when i will be able to attend. i have a clearness committee that is theoretically around that, but the past few meetings have mostly enlightened me to how fuzzy-headed i feel.

at the most recent one, we decided to check in about meeting about once every three months. i was asked what i wanted in the meantime. i said, “conversations and resources.” everyone agreed.

a couple of weeks went by. i blinked a little. and then i started making some phone calls. and on an almost weekly basis, i’ve been getting together with a different person from my clearness committee. and some new things are starting to form. i’m a little shy about sharing them here just yet, because they’re… tender… and unformed somewhat. but something is actually starting to come into shape. and i’m getting a little excited again.

but/and… i’m going to be busy soon. i’m on nominating committee this year, which apparently always means that you join a committee that you theoretically didn’t have time for before, but when you get rejected so many times, you start to feel guilty and take on stuff. so i joined children’s religious ed. which i’ve meant to do for about a year now, so… and then there’s that whole starting school thing. and then there’s the busy-ness that i think my leading will… lead… to.

and so it was interesting to read various posts about tending the inward fire, and , and, er, reading batman. they seem linked. that blend of self-care and faithfulness. it’s good. i like it. i would like to post all three in my head’s bulletin board for easy access, but… i don’t have one of those, so… i’ll have to figure something else out. like, um, maybe a good inward fire.

i’m still figuring out if i’m knocking and it is being given to me, or if i’m just trying to put on some sort of show. but… my hibernation for the past few months hasn’t felt like much of a show.

there are many sides to any story. there are many sides to my own stories. there are the stories i tell now and the stories i’ll tell tomorrow. and there are the stories that tell one part of how i feel right now, and stories that tell a whole other part of how i feel.

the important part of my last post for me was that Right Then, i was feeling Very Disillusioned. as i wrote it, i tried to express that it was probably temporary and that i also felt a load of other things. i was as frustrated with the person in question, and as sympathetic to my meeting as i was angry and disillusioned. it felt urgent and it still feels important that i wrote it from the lens that i did, because i don’t express that part of things much. and there’s always a part of me that wants more from quakers, that wants to push harder, that wants to hold the group accountable to the things that i’ve learned from quakerism to hold myself accountable to.

it hurt people. i didn’t want to hurt people. but it’s hard not to hurt people when one is speaking from hurt. (which is a potential lesson from our experience with that person.) but there’s also tremendous potential for healing. which was what i was going for. i was hoping that in being honest about how i felt about the situation, i could heal and the meeting could heal.

of course, with blogs, honesty becomes one-sided and poisonous. whether you intend it or not. it doesn’t feel like dialog, and it can seem invasive.

i’m leaving my post up, because it’s true. it’s also only part of something. it’s not totally true. it’s not my whole truth, and it’s not The whole truth. but it’s true for what it is. and because there are posts before it and after it that keep it in context. our meeting wasn’t perfect, it did the best it could, it’s been amazing for me, i wish it could be amazing for everyone. that’s what i tried to tell. you miss that if you only read that post. that’s another scary thing about blogs. mine’s a conversation with myself and it’s easy to misunderstand things when you just catch part of a conversation. it might be a generational thing, i might be embarrassed someday, i regret that it was hurtful, but i think this blog serves the community best when the seams show. a flawless community is not real– as much as i wish it were.

i’ve gotten 10 visitors in the past few days that have visited my site from searching for cubbie, quaker, and blog. before these past few days, that had happened a couple of times, but once i became controversial, people wanted to find me. i hope that they will come back and see the calm days, the loving days, the joyful days. those are most days.

i hate that our meeting has caused people pain. i hate it because it has not caused me pain, and that makes me feel strangely guilty, very sad, and a little angry at everyone involved. who are you that you can not be perfect to me and also this person? who are you that you do not find the perfection here? who am i that i am willing to accept this place that has wounded you?

when i posted about feeling like an enabler, it was true. there have been times when i feel like i’m making excuses for abusive behavior to a wounded person. i am not wounded by these people, but i’ve seen it happen, and i’ve tried to make the woundings not true. “have you tried this? have you considered that?” i feel like i’m making excuses. there is a truth to the disconnect between mine and others’ experiences that is not abuse, but it feels so much like my experience of dealing with abuse that i don’t know how else to name it yet. i’ve known denial. i haven’t known this “one person’s medicine being another person’s poison” like this before.

since my post, i’ve gotten 3 phone calls and a few emails. i’ve felt embarrassed, stalked, hounded, and loved. every conversation, i expected some sort of cease and desist order, but instead, i got love. some hurt, some agreement, tons and tons of love. and not just to me. i heard about so much love for this man. and honestly, i’d sort of forgotten that part, even as i claimed to sort of remember. i’m sorry i forgot. i’m sorry if you felt like your efforts and care was dismissed. i screw up. and you still love me. i raged like i did because i believed we could handle it. i forgot that that could hurt you, but i knew i’d be forgiven. that’s pretty juvenile, i guess. i’ll try not to take advantage of that again.

talking with him that day reminded me that i need to be honest. and it reminded me that i have not been faithful to all that i should be honest about. i’ve talked in my clearness committees about my yearnings for scary conversations, and haven’t really done them. i initiated a one-sided scary conversation over here, not expecting the sort of follow-up it had, and was confronted with a number of scary conversations that made me want to show up at meeting with movie star dark glasses. but i didn’t. i held myself accountable to my words. and now i will start on those scary conversations that need to be had. the ones that don’t ambush– the ones where we choose to be brave and face each other and ourselves… and god or whomever is there to keep us safe there.

edited on june 6, 2008… and again on june 9, 2008

my meeting has had a long history with difficult and complicated man. i’ve only known him for a year and half, but many people from the meeting have known him for at least three years. he has a personality that many people find abrasive, a bluntness that many people find arrogant, and a presence that’s a little larger than life.

or at least on that latter point, he did. i met him for breakfast yesterday morning and his wild hair and beard had been shorn down, and he was a little more subdued than usual.

i guess he’s leaving town because after six months of many many membership meetings, it looks like he’s not going to get to be one. he says he’s tired of knowing people don’t want him around, and he’s ready to go.

of course there are other factors, of course it seems a little melodramatic, of course there are complicated feelings brought up because of some of the ways his personality is like my dad’s, of course i romanticize things, of course it’s never that simple…

but i’m pretty angry. and embarrassed. i KNOW that not everything is for everyone, but this guy has always been open and honest and has integrity down to the bone, and our meeting has hurt him and sent him on his way. he’s hurt people, it’s true. but it seems like he’s only ever hurt people by challenging people to be their best selves. maybe it’s his opinion of what their best selves are and not the Truth of their best selves or something, but he’s given us his best. he’s changed. and he’s changed us. but he still has to go.

let me clarify that the meeting is not actually sending him away. he’s making that choice. but with some of the treatment he’s got, it’s surprising he’s stayed this long.

quakerism seems very small to me today.

we walked down the street together, and i talked about how opposite my experience has been from this. how i’ve found only love and acceptance and opportunity for growth within this community. we laughed about my “palatable” personality and the ways that has eased things. he’s pushed people away, it’s true, and i don’t want to do that, but what am i doing with my palatable personality that’s changing people.

today i doubt quakerism’s ability to do much anything good. today i feel embarrassed for all the good things i say about it. it’s changed me, but how far?

right now i feel like the enabling friend of quakers. “yeah, they beat you up sometimes, but that’ll change tomorrow, they’re not always like that, give them another chance.” they’ve never beat me up, but today i do feel bruised.

as i go deeper into this flawed community that i do so tremendously love, let me keep my honesty, my integrity, my love, and my self. let me change things that need to be changed, let me have the honor to face them, and let me hold the hands of people who get hurt because of the things that are stuck. help me grow my voice so that i can have some of that honesty that is leaving– but only let me speak my own truth. which includes receiving so much love and seeing so much pain.

… since my initial posting of this, there’s been some confusion about what i’m saying happened. and i think part of that is because i was confused in myself somewhat about what happened. the membership committee did not come to unity about this person’s membership. he was not told he couldn’t be a member. i give that impression in this post, though it’s not what i actually mean to say. he gave up on his side of membership meetings and that’s sad and i think says things about our meeting and about him. but the membership meetings would have still been going on if he hadn’t left.

gifts of translation & the child of divorce.

a few weeks ago, robin & i had coffee. we walked through the castro, where they are filming milk right now, and we got to see people waiting to have a fake protest, wearing ’70’s clothes & talking on their cell phones. it was pretty great.

on the way there and at the coffee house, we talked about a whole lot of things, but one thing that really stuck with me was our conversation about translation. i was talking about what i was feeling like i was called to do, and my space in between our meeting and new people of various sorts, and she brought up the gift of translation. she talked about how in the pentecost story, there’s a specific mention of the gift of translation- there are those who can speak in tongues and then there are those who can understand them and bring that to other people. and how that gift doesn’t get talked about much. she talked about it like it was a gift we both shared.

i think it is a gift i have, and a gift i’m working on.

but later on that same day, i was talking to another quaker about our spiritual gifts– those we share with each other, and those that other people have and working on moving past judgment and/or ency about them. it was really good, and then suddenly, i realized that for me this translation thing is a tricky gift of the child of divorce. the tricky gift of loving two people or two sets of people and seeing both sides and trying to help them see both sides. my parents didn’t divorce until i was 18, but i decided that they really should get it over with by the time i was 9.

and recently, i’ve found myself in that codependent sort of trap– i NEED to make these people see what each other means, because it’s MY job and no one else can do it and they certainly can’t and crapcrapcrap they don’t understand each other yet, and it’s MY fault.

so i’m stepping back a little. not really out of the fray maybe, but out of where i was and to a space where i can see where i was, learn from it, listen to more than just myself, and move forward in a better way.

there are prayers i am praying, but i’m not ready to put them online, but even if i don’t ask for human help (and i probably will), i’m still asking for help and knowing it’s there, and i like that.

soon, i want to talk about where i am about my clearness committee, where i am about diversity in my meeting, and where i am about belief and god. soon meaning… some day. stay tuned.

take what you need and leave the rest.

today, i officially became a quaker.

i’m pretty excited. it felt right in a new big way. after my rocky time in between clearness committees, and going to quarterly meeting, and starting to actually really figure out what sort of role i have in the world/quakerism/my meeting, and having so many conversation dates and phone calls, i really REALLY feel part of this whole thing, in a way that i didn’t before i started the membership process. even the one month of seasoning, after my membership request was brought to last month’s business meeting, seemed to add to the richness of the moment.

it was pretty delightful. the elderly gentleman who was sitting next to me (who has come to the used bookstore i work in & who i visited in the hospital and loaned a book to that he keeps promising to return…) leaned over to me when my membership request was announced in business meeting and said, “i don’t know who that is!” and i laughed and pointed to myself and said, “that’s me!”

the moments afterward felt big somehow in this way i wasn’t expecting. it’s more of a formality in a way than the clearness committee, i think, but it felt less formal than that initially felt. i can’t express it except that i felt like we were really all part of a each other, and that i was really loved and respected by them (and i loved and respected them as well), which was so good.

and then it came time to ask who would be part of my welcoming committee, and the friend to my left offered to be part of it.

***

i sent out a text message that i was officially a quaker to a couple of people– and got a response that the person thought that had already happened and that i should blog about more nonquaker things. they’re right, i think, but i think i also just need to blog more in general. it’s hard, though, without internet in my own home, and the weird busyness of my life lately. frequently, when i get online now, i have to DO things– organize things for the young adult friends group, having email conversations about the state of our meeting in terms of race, diversity, young people, service, and a whole lot of other things, organizing one one one conversations about those things and others, organizing social justice conversations with people from my job, trying to find a bed on craigslist, applying for a summer job, figuring out what i need to do for employment in the fall… the list goes on and on. and isn’t super interesting as a list, i don’t think.

but here are some non-quaker things in my life right now.

* as of yesterday i have a bed and will no longer be sleeping on a folded in half shiatsu mat that my feet go off. it was free from this really great woman in oakland. yesterday, my ladyfriend and i took a zipcar truck to go get it and to move a couch from her friends’ house to hers.

* since the bed was free, i splurged and got 2 new pairs of pants and have set aside my ersatz attempts at trouser crotch patching for the time being.

* i’ve been having some really fun breakfast dates with a girl i went to college with who recently moved to the city.

* i’ve been eating beets as much as i possibly can. and have discovered how amazingly i can change a “just pasta, red sauce, and cheese” dish, if i put it in a casserole dish in the oven.

* i’ve had a lot of days off from my job at the school due to various holidays, including chinese new year.

* i scheduled a social justice conversation at my house on monday but the only person that showed up was my co-facilitator. that was sad, but it’s nice just drinking tea and chatting with someone in my house, and i should do more of that.

* my housemate had a friend stay over on our floor for a few days, and i kept getting into really long conversations with him in a way that’s totally different with how i interact with my housemates.

* yesterday, that housemate was diagnosed with one of those really scary staph infections that are resistant to basically everything. she doesn’t seem as worried as she did when she thought she might have it, so… that’s good?

* i’ve been booking up tons of my evenings and mornings with conversations and meetings and stuff and it’s been really good.

* my school job has been by turns frustrating and amazing. i’d say way more about that except for confidentiality and… TIME!!!

and then there are the myriad things that are going on in my psyche & soul that are not really quaker-specific in the grand scheme of things, but that have been hugely helped along by my quaker practice and community (with plenty of help from spiritual books from various traditions, conversations with non-quakers, co-dependents anonymous literature, and life in general). i want to write about those, too, and will some day, hopefully. but now i have to clean the store.

the world is absurd and beautiful and small.

ha!

you are slowly figuring out this clearness committee thing. you were asked who you wanted on it. there are a few people, including someone who you admire in a particular way. in a way that you want to be this person when you grow up, and it really actually seems possible. not carbon copy possible and you wouldn’t want that. but possible in a way that this person has had some issues similar to yours and gotten through them and been transformed by them, and what they’ve done with it, you really really really admire. but you will always be you and they will always be they and that’s great. it’s also great to have someone to look up to.

(AND last night, you were watching a film about bayard rustin and thinking you’d found another hero and finding similarities in ways of being true to self between this person and rustin.)

(i can’t tell if i’m being vague or clever with this second person business today. but i can’t think of how else to put any of this.)

ANYWAY…. you are processing that and you get a phone call. from someone else that you thought of as a good support for your committee but in a slightly different way… asking if you want to be ON a clearness committee for this person you admire’s ministry.

ps. this blog is the first thing you will find if you search for “rob bell homophobia” (without the quotation marks)… which has happened. and the 72nd if you search for “rob bell homosexuality” (also without quotes)… which hasn’t happened. except by me.

i’ve been having this email conversation since december. it’s with a guy whose zine i read and really liked, except then he started talking about how christianity is really super bad. and so i was like, “except not always. and the people that you are annoyed with are perverting christianity, and the media believes them when they say that this is how it Is, and i’m really sad that you believe them because there is so much more positive stuff. and the more people believe that christianity is just the fundamentalist stuff that the people in power are promoting, the more that becomes the truth.”

and then i had my own god crisis that i’m still not sure i’m done with or what to do with. and so he responded but i didn’t for months, and then i finally did, and we’ve been having an okay conversation, with long lags in between.

but anyway, in this last email, he said that the word for what i said i believed was animism.

and that’s not really true at all. i don’t think that each thing has a soul or an identity or anything like that. i just think that everything is an important part of a big holy whole.

and the reason that i’m posting is that… i’m not sure how to say things. i’m not sure how to say to people who think god doesn’t exist, because there is provable outside force, that god isn’t an outside force, that god is what is happening all the time… because a) i get confused about it really easily b) the only argument i have behind me is, “well, that’s how i feel about it” & c) I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS for anything.

home is where when you have to go there, they have to take you in.

there has been a lot of talk among queers about the chosen family. as a group of people who have in many cases been tossed out of their birth homes, there has been a great need for new families, who will accept and love no matter what. sadly, the tossing has been done by many faith communities, and so a queer person’s chosen family is rarely a religious one. at least as far as i’ve seen.

yesterday, my mom came and visited our home. i was going to meet her at her hotel at a certain time, but the dishes took longer than i thought and the pie took longer than i thought, so, after a number of reschedulings, i met her an hour and a half later than i’d thought. the plan had been that we’d hang out there for awhile and then come back and puck would make lasagna and we’d eat it and pie and i’d make it to the quaker study group in time for the discussion, though not for the meal. and i’ve been really into the pie that i’ve been making (lime, with lavender whipped cream), and i’ve wanted to share it with them, and bring something homemade and yummy and delightful to this group of people who i think are great.

but we got to my house and things took longer for puck than they’d thought, and i was getting really sad and stressed out, because i’d made this pie for my friends and i wanted them to be able to have it, and and and and and.

so, i decided that the way to deal with that was to take the fifteen minute walk down to the meetinghouse while the lasagna was still cooking, bring them the pie, and come back. this would calm me down, and they’d get the pie, and both would be good things. so i ran down there, and as i neared, i realized how… weird this was. how maybe they’d be weirded out by the floral whipped cream. how maybe i should just give the pie to a group of homeless people and then they would all eat pie rather than self-destruct for one night. how we don’t usually eat in the middle of the study group. how i hadn’t even sliced it and and and and.

i got there and rang the bell, and charles let me in and i tried to just give him the pie with a brief explanation, but he said i should do it, so i came in and everyone seemed so excited to see me, and extra excited about the pie, and i rambled and rambled about how i felt crazy and how it was lavender whipped cream and and and and and.

then i got invited to sit in silence. and i sat down among this group of friends and i felt so calm. i felt a presence that was maybe just their love and was maybe more and maybe their love and more are still the same thing… and it was very sweet.

and then it ended and i rambled some more and still felt sort of crazy, but still felt very loved. still felt very welcome. still felt very at home.

thank you.

so… i’ve been thinking about why i haven’t posted much here lately, and was going to do a short post about that and how i was enjoying the conversations around me and trying to spend more time listening to them, because i haven’t been doing much quaker blogging, either in reading or writing… and then i read craig’s post, and started to comment, but i realized it was more about me than about the post, so i deleted it there and posted it here…

christianity is such a tricky thing to talk about because of all the hurt that people have around it… and so they get all bitter and grouchy about it, and it really in a lot of ways makes sense. and so i’m always asking myself, “is it better to try and be a witness to it… or to figure out how to scrap it altogether and find something more universal… or something?” i have a really hard time expressing things that i feel really strongly about, because i’m afraid of being judged, or that my own way of presenting something will turn everybody off of it… and since i’m always questioning myself so much, a conversation with someone who i originally disagreed with can get me so confused, and i can’t figure out who is right or what i actually think… point being: i think i want to more actively label myself as christian, to witness to that, but… i need to be more centered so that that windiness of people doesn’t blow me all over the place… (of course then there’s the question of how long would i wait, and would i accidentally wait forever… if i am just a windblown sort of person… but i’m doing a lot of work on codependency lately, and that seems to be something that might come from that and that i can work on, and wow it would be nice to stand firm about my truths rather than saying “i guess you might be right…” i’d like to learn to listen rather than drinking in what people have to say like it was the truth i’d been missing all along.)

i’m still having a difficult time entirely figuring out what i believe about god. it’s so easy to get stuck in what i used to believe about god or what i’m “supposed to” believe about god, and i forget to really listen. but i’m working on it.

… honestly part of what has kept me away from this blog has been some self-consciousness. this blog is so self-y and also so… shallow. not that i am shallow, but that my understanding of quakerism is not deep– it is not seasoned in the ways that i’ve seen other blogs be… and so i have become a little nervous about putting it out there. somehow my “everybody’s been there” bravado, has paled beside a new sort of shyness. seeing blog posts that are like “BIG ISSUE IN THE WORLD + QUAKERISM + me” makes me feel embarassed about my posts that are “BIG ISSUE ABOUT ME! + quakerism? + some more me!!!” but… if i am honest, i know that… that’s what i know. and maybe i will know more, but i can’t claim what isn’t mine.

Published in: on 13 April, 2007 at 12:32 pm  Comments (1)