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.

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.

lift up your hands.

today, while talking to krista about my recent wrestling with the ghosts of homophobic religion, i said something about how i don’t understand god… and i fumbled a bit around my attempts and then said something about how all i know is that i’m being as honest as i know how to be, in my living and in my searching, and that’s what i’ve got. and then i said, “god isn’t a romantic hero in a teen romance novel where you have to pretend you like cars.” and that right there was a moment of clarity. just that remembrance that you can’t fake it with god. and if you’re trying to impress god by faking it, you’re not going to make it.

today at meeting for worship, i was thinking about the way that we think of religions as possessions– graspable, definable, and separate– and then i had this very vivid image of a piece of wet watercolour paper, with red drops of watercolour on it, separate, near, blurring into each other, red like blood which is pain and which is also something that we all have and that we all live with.

the other thing that i sat with is that i feel like my biggest task right now is to just like and accept myself. which sounds so selfish and self-centered and there must be more to that. but, folks, as i’ve explored in the last incarnation of this journal, my father was a man who spent his life self-destructing and my mother is a woman who was searching for someone to love her and felt like she got that once she had me. so i was raised by people who felt pretty worthless. and who told me over and over again that i was the best treasure in the world. i started banging my head against walls when i was six, i started contemplating suicide when i was seven, and when i was eight, i thought i was jesus (not as in a symptom of schizophrenia, but as in a “these people are telling me i’m perfect, and that there was one perfect person… and i think i heard somewhere he was coming again… oh, and remember i’m 8.”). so “sinners in the hands of an angry god,” reverend dimsdale, self-flagellation, hairshirt land, it doesn’t work for me. i know for a fact that when you loathe yourself, you are not good for other people. and i know how easy it is to loathe yourself and to think that it’s a virtue. and i know how, for me, it’s much much much harder to accept that i am my own gift from god. i’m not “god’s gift” as they say, but i’m the cubbie i’ve been given to work with, and i need to be a good steward and be careful with me.

which brings me to the realization i came up with today as i walked home from work… which is that this year was the year i broke into a million pieces, and discovered that i’m whole.

Published in: on 30 December, 2007 at 11:20 pm  Comments (3)