about two months ago, maybe going near 3 now, though i’m not absolutely sure on the timeframe, i went to my first quaker meeting. i went because i was dissatisfied by my recent experiences with unitarians, my desire for a faith community, my desire for more spiritual fulfillment, and because my partner, whose aunt is a professor at a quaker college, said something along the lines of, “quakers are nice.”
that first meeting, two things struck me: 1) that the silence was really nourishing & 2) that i felt immediately welcomed and accepted by everyone. i have not felt that at any uu church i’ve been to. i haven’t felt any animosity, but i’ve felt like the outsider of a cool clique.
every sunday, i’ve found myself wanting to do nothing but go to meeting. the silence has continued to nourish, in deeper and more profound ways, and that welcome has blossomed into a feeling of genuine care. there is such a recognition that we are all seekers. i love that. none of my questions have been brushed off. everything has been thoughtfully considered. i feel young and new and naive, but that has come from my own baggage surrounding those things (and has not always felt negative) more than from the group itself.
in, i think it was holy silence by j. brent bill, there is a part about community as part of the spiritual journey, and how for community to work, you really have to know each other. and… i’ve always been very much about putting myself out there to people. sometimes i worry that it is self-absorption. and i think some of it is. but as i said in the introduction, i want people to be able to learn from me– and at the same time… i think i, um… kinda wanna be… eldered. if i understand the term correctly. i want the been there done that people to hold me accountable. that seems really scary and also… kind of selfish — take time out of your busy schedules to monitor my spiritual growth!!! (please?) but i want to give back. in many ways i don’t know how that giving back will be, but…
i was starting to write “i am prepared to give so much to this spiritual community” and i think that’s true, but the word “prepared” startled me, so i’m going to not quite say it, in the hopes that it will feel absolutely true soon-esque.
i might get defensive, i might get cranky, i might cry a lot, but… i do that with the things i tell myself, too. i hope you will be gentler, stricter, and truer to me than i am.
today’s paper journal entry (i have so much i’ve written in the past months that i plan to share, but… this is what it seems i should post today. still with the giant and scary.)
“i have been battling more stress in the past 2 days. it seems like whenever i view my home as a sanctuary– and sort of specify what that means, there is trouble.
but i have noticed that the things that have brought me joy while calm bring me some calm while stressed– though it’s amazing how much i battle that. there are times when as much as i hate being pissed off, its still how i weirdly prefer to be. it feels like a gift, like something i deserve to feel– even though peace and joy would actually feel better. but i feel entitled to my rage and in it, i seem to say that nothing should get in its way.
it’s interesting, because i’ve noticed this in reference to my alone time related anger. and so it’s like, ‘well, if i don’t et my alone time i should be allowed to be really angry about it.’
but my anger isn’t constructive– it’s teary and frustrated and full of desires to physically rip holes in myself. the alternative brings a glow to things. it shouldn’t be hard. humanity is so silly.
this morning & yesterday morning i didn’t get or give myself my precious solitary time. yesterday i was so tired and slept until after noon- not waking up until bonnie called. this morning i had a staff meeting at 9, which meant leaving at 8, which meant an hour to get ready and i had to print out some things, which took up the “spare” time that i could have had. but i have made sure to give myself time later — and yesterday […puck was] very accomodating for my need for alone time. hurray!
in wrestling with our faith tradition by lloyd lee wilson–
‘Peace comes not by the Pax Romana or Pax Britanica, or even by the Pax Americana, but by the rule of Christ in human hearts. Our best defense, on every level, is evangelization: promoting the true knowledge of Christ in every heart. That will protect us (and everyone) from the mugger as well as the invader.’
and you know what, i believe that.
but at the same time, i still think i believe that belief in christ can be corrupted to be the ’cause of all outward wars.’ because it has been used for that justification for so long. and those who are used to that belief and justification get tense and enraged– on either side of the battle, really. either ‘jesus, he knows me and he knows i’m right’ or ‘you’ve been using your jesus to fuck me &/or my friends over for so long.’
and it aches that that is what has happened, but–
the holy spirit is not solely the christ holy spirit. i mean– it is the holy spirit of which jesus talks, but it is the holy spirit of other faiths, too.
and being ecumenical within oneself might be an attempt to bridge those wars.
but– i have heard and it makes sense to me that the surest way to find the meat, the heft, the truth is to follow one tradition to its core.
but in our society, the concepts are so misconstrued & diluted that the words have become almost poisonous.
and so– does one try to save the terms and explain what has gone wrong– or does one avoid the words.
(and then there’s the way that i think that people who seem hardwired for non-religion have the same access to truth as those to whom religion is natural and ‘easy’– but then who am i to say that they do not know it but they believe in something holy.
they believe in something i find holy.
and then there are the wars that have nothing to do with what word you call truth– the person vs. self wars. the world falling apart in tiny immediate ways that breaks down the sense of inner calm, that embraces all noises, cracks, and ugliness– unless it is directly happening to you. the war of the world not making sense in a physical, literal way, minor disasters that seem to shatter everything and the self that responds defensively with an attack at the self that should have either fixed the world so it wouldn’t break in such a way, or has no right to get upset about it.
i went to the bathroom and then the toilet paper roll fell off the wall. i decided to fix it, but i couldn’t find the tiny screwdriver. then the drawer wouldn’t shut. then puck wouldn’t listen to me. then it turned out that the problem was deeper than something that could be fixed with the screwdriver, because the part in the wall where the screw was is stripped of anything to keep the screw in.
thus, the end of the world, complete with loud accidental noises, loud on purpose noises, shouting at inanimate obkexts, grudges, self-blame, feeling ignored (after having asked to be left alone), inadvertantly tiny [voice], and tears.”
see, see, see? i want to show you all my flaws, and that scares me, because i don’t want it to seem just like confessional and now i am absolved, woo-hoo!, but instead… so that you know where i’m coming from, what seems to be stuck in shadows. who this is that is coming to your community and saying, “i need things. point me in the right way. don’t give them to me, probably. but just… make sure i keep looking.”
and… since i am fluffy and stuff, i have also been daydreaming about this next bit of this post, which is the 10 things that i think i feel like most people know about me, but that since i am new, the quakers don’t.
1) religion has pretty much always been a big part of my life.
2) marilyn monroe is actually kind of my patron saint.
3) i actually identify is not a boy or a girl, but somewhere in between and also outside of the two… but i prefer masculine pronouns. i have been on hormones for about 5 months and really like pretty things.
4) my father was a drummer (reggae, blues, and some other things). he died of a drug overdose on halloween 2002. it wasn’t really a surprise.
5) i didn’t actually realize i liked kids until i did my americorps term last year.
6) puck and i hope to raise kids in community in a few years.
7) anti-racist and general anti-oppression work is really important to me, and it is also something about which i continually feel very dumb, inept, and clumsy.
8) we have 2 cats, butter and secret. secret is very mean. butter is very soft.
9) i have a history of self-injury that i’m still working on.
10) i studied religion in college– this made me feel clever, stupid, bitter, inspired, and like i will never ever be an academic.