“Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word “love” here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace – not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.”
–James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

this is one of those times that i’m posting when a number of posts and themes have been rumbling, boiling, roiling, and bumbling around in my head, and i’m trying to see if i can distill them all into something cohesive, together. 

recently, i finished reading the bible for the third time.  the first two times were in high school, one right after the other.  what the three reads have in common is that they were relatively textually easy editions that i read at night, before bed.  this reading was the message: remix, meant to be read in small chunks, over either 1, 2, or 4 years.  i took a little over 3 years, reading at a variety of paces throughout that time, sometimes missing a few days to a week at a time.  i found myself baffled and concerned by the frequent old testament battles and the bloody imagery throughout.  i felt disconnected from the frame of mind of early jews, trying to translate my own experience into this entirely different worldview.  the bible resonates the most with me when treated as metaphor, but there were so many stories and events, and long narratives, that i couldn’t find the use in, and that seemed to run counter to my own ideas of morality and god.

one piece of that that’s interesting is that in my quaker journey, i’ve found a lot of resonance in contemporary jewish writers, sometimes more so than in contemporary christian writers.  it’s actually through jewish writers that i learned to feel more comfortable looking at religious stories metaphorically.  and a reality about myself is that whenever i’m in new york, i get self-consciously giddy by all of the jewishness.  i am worried about my tendency to romanticization and exotification as i press my nose to the bus window going through hasidic neighborhoods, but my justification is that i am fascinated by that ability to live one’s faith out loud like that, jealous as a white kid who believes he has no culture.

shortly after finishing the bible, i was part of a conversation where someone was talking about his atheistic respect for this person who had actually read the bible and lived by it, despite how ugly it was.  this person and the person he was referring to were thinking about the bible of the eternally angry god.  i was saddened by this, but unable to counter it, both because of my natural timidity in conflict, the power dynamics involved, the level of alcohol consumed, and my awareness of the confusing ugliness i’d found in the bible.

one thing he said was that many christians don’t acknowledge how hard it is to actually live by the bible.  and even as i create the bible in my own image, unsure how to grapple with the pieces that make me deeply uncomfortable, i still find it difficult to live by the pieces that i absolutely believe in.  god is love.  there is no fear in love.  love your neighbor as yourself.  who is my neighbor?  the good samaritan.  these things can be distilled into fluff, i guess, but at their core, they are terribly terribly hard.  if we all succeeded in living by them, i believe the world would be a much better place, but they seem to be ignored by the people flocking to chik-fil-a, boycotting funerals, and engaging in warfare.  these people have their own piece of the bible, too.  how do i justify my piece of it, in the face of the other side of things?  is it fair to take the bible piece by piece?

i will probably continue to live my piece of the bible as much as possible.  my view is something like that comic strip that says something, “what if it’s all a hoax?  what if we fix up the ozone layer, replant trees, and make the world better, for no reason?”  that is the world that i want.

in about an hour, all over the country, there will be protests. protests about all the gay marriage bans that passed in this election. i won’t be there.

partly it’s just that it’s been a really stressful week and i’ve not got enough sleep for 3 nights in a row. and maybe that laziness is informing my sense of leading, but i don’t think so.

i just don’t feel led to go. i think it’s really sad that proposition 8 won, but i’m not convinced that my going to this protest will fix what needs to get fixed.

(i’ve been asking myself questions about marriage as a state thing anyway, and if i even like that at all. wondering if people who live together in any sort of committed household, even if romance is not involved, should get all the state marriage “perks” and if the faith and other communities should be in charge of “policing” the holy, marriage stuff…?)

i think it’s just that, even though this may be naive and not politically cogent, it’s all really about love. ALL. are all people who love each other allowed to live that love how they want to? AND… are we loving enough to accept our differences?

i personally think it’s a travesty of the christian faith to use it to justify hate of any kind. AND i think it’s depressing that the queer response is an equally vicious and dehumanizing hatred. i think, then, we are both wrong.

i’m thinking about this person quoted in kornfield’s a path with heart. “my parents hate me when i’m a buddhist, but they love me when i’m a buddha,” she says. i can’t go out and fight this with fighting words and anger and hatred. i’ve just got to love even harder. maybe queer folks have to love harder than straight folks. maybe that’s not fair. maybe that’s like african american folks having to be twice as smart and twice as hardworking to get the same breaks as white folks. but maybe it’s a gift.

if i went out today, i’d bring or make my own sign like the ones i like at the peace vigil outside the federal building. “let us then try what love will do” or “there is no fear in love. perfect love casts out fear.” even those seem a little too weapony in this situation.

i guess i just think if it’s a battle between the christians and the queers (which it isn’t, because there are christian queers and christian allies, and because it just isn’t), we’ve got to beat them at their own game. and remind them that it is their game, too. christianity boils down to love. and so does queerness. we should be on the same page.

we are living in a historic time. obama is the president-elect, and maybe that’s about love too. it’s definitely about some triumph over hate. and it was painful to get here and it’s still not perfect, but we’ve gotten somewhere. i don’t think we will get far like that by hating each other, blaming people, or doing anything other than reaching across lines.

allison sent me a link to a blog of particularly mormon folks apologizing about prop 8. being loving and trying to bridge gaps. we’ve all got to do that. or at least i do.

would i be bridging gaps at the protest? possibly. maybe that’s what i should be doing– going to the protest and talking about love to the protesters and everyone. but i’m not. in fact, i’ve had the sort of blog-writing experience that involved stopping and starting and having conversations and now it’s 3 hours later than it was when it started. i must keep this open though. way has opened for more love to come into the world. what am i going to do about it?

everyone has one.

“’My pain is ugly, Angel Juan. I feel like I have so much ugly pain,’ says Witch Baby in a dream.

‘Everyone does,’ Angel Juan says. ‘My mother says that pain is hidden in everyone you see. She says try to imagine it like big bunches of flowers that everyone is carrying around with them. Think of your pain like a bunch of red roses, a beautiful thorn necklace. Everyone has one.’”

Witch Baby, Francesca Lia Block

i just reread my favorite book. dangerous angels by francesca lia block contains the first five “weetzie bat books,” weetzie bat, witch baby, cherokee bat and the goat guys, missing angel juan, and baby be-bop. it’s so good. so so so good.

and so so so problematic. it romanticizes everything, and since it’s written by a white person, the people of color can become caricatures and stereotypes, even when she’s trying to write about them with the utmost love. parts of it hurt me in a big way…

but it wouldn’t have the power to hurt me like it does if it wasn’t so fantastic and wise in so many other ways. it deals with queerness and love and pain and angst in this way that has healed me so many times. that quote at the top of this entry has effected me in so many ways since i first read it. it helped me stop hurting myself and now it reminds me of how to connect to people, how to be open, how to listen and not be afraid, how to love.

i want to give this book as a gift to everyone i love, and i also want to hide it. reading it feels like praying, and like a car wreck. i don’t know what to do with all that. for me it’s only 2% car wreck and 98% praying, but i’m in the dominant culture. how would my pain necklace stab me if other pains were reflected in this book over and over again?

Published in: on 1 June, 2008 at 9:00 pm  Comments (6)  

o’er they spirit gently stealing, visions of delight revealing, breathes a pure and holy feeling…

i am at the san francisco monthly meetings annual retreat at ben lomond quaker center. it is so good. it is rich and full in giant ways that i think i can only express in bullet points right now, hopefully to revisit later.

* i’ve noticed people’s faces change almost immediately upon arriving. the faces are more soft and relaxed and happy. i’ve never noticed that happen quite so strongly before. people who have slightly pinched faces most of the time are absolutely giddy here. it’s lovely.
* (puck and i are breaking up, and a lot of that is coming from some strength i’ve found from going to co-dependents anonymous.) robin m. shared vocal ministry about knowing how to let go of something and she mentioned the serenity prayer and i cried and cried.
* baby molly has been at the meetings for worship and her crows and gurgles have been wonderful for me. i’ve been thinking about how much like a baby i am– so excited about learning to stand, so confused and sad for reasons i don’t understand sometimes, making a mess of myself sometimes, being surrounded by love, misinterpreting love and feeling threatened…
* we had worship sharing about god’s call for us, and i just kept coming back to how right now i don’t feel called to much outward work and how i’m focusing inwardly and… i wound up saying something like, “it feels decadent to say this and i’m kind of embarrassed about it, but i feel called to learn how to be comfortable with and grateful for who i am… and not to perfect it all away.” i feel like the “learning to be grateful for who i am” part of it is very new.
* i got to misquote kate bornstein at bible study today. i got the gist of it, but i couldn’t remember the exact words, but i have it elsewhere, so i can share it accurately here: “It takes a great deal of courage to be delightful in this world.” we were reading john 15, about jesus’s command to love, and his warning that people will hate those who follow him.
* i am rereading anne of avonlea this weekend and it is just right.
* there has been so much music and laughter and delicious food and happy children and light light light in so many ways.
* today during meeting for worship (once the moldy peaches’ “who’s got the crack?” got out of my head), “all through the night” (the folk song… not the cyndi lauper song, which i also love) was in my head and it really resonated.

Sleep my child and peace attend thee,
All through the night
Guardian angels God will send thee,
All through the night
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping
Hill and vale in slumber sleeping,
I my loving vigil keeping
All through the night.
it wasn’t until i was walking back down the hill that i remembered the parts that lull, but i was just thinking about the parts that protect. things are night-ish for me right now, and so… it was good.

* deer! close up!!! and a fawn!!!!

reading karen armstrong’s the battle for god and ann brashare’s 3rd sisterhood of the traveling pants book, girls in pants, i was startled to find a similar theme. the them and “moral” of both, seems to be that… when people feel bad about themselves and/or when they feel threatened, they get mean. this is, i guess, sort of obvious, but… i think we miss it a lot when we are dealing with difficult people. i thought about it a lot today at the peace vigil outside the federal building. mostly people who passed were really positive, but we had 2 really angry people, too. when i was hearing the happy honks, i thought about the idea i’ve heard some that “the tide has turned” and the way that this is linked to people’s frustration (mine included) that it took other people so long to realize that the war is wrong. i’ve heard (and i think said) “how could they be so stupid for so long?” but maybe not’s the right question. “why are they so hurt and scared and angry?” might be the right one. ministering to their hurts is probably the best way to win them over… but i’m still speaking of us & them…

and, also, i was a total grouchy brat yesterday, so it’s not like my insights into human nature are doing me a whole lot of practical good right now.

….

in other news, i was going over some quotes i marked from the battle for god and these got me thinking about quaker plain dress:

“Western observers were particularly dismayed by the spectacle of women returning to the veil, which they had seen as a symbol of Islamic backwardness and patriarchy since the days of Lord Cromer. But it was not experienced in this way by those Muslim women who voluntarily assumed Islamic dress for practical reasons and also as a way of casting off an alien Western identity. Donning a veil, a scarf, and a long dress could be a symbol of that ‘return to the self’ which Islamists were attempting with such difficulty in the postcolonial period…

Where Western men and women attempt to bring the body under the control of the human will in their gyms and workouts, and cling to this life by making teir bodies impervious to the process of time and ageing, the veiled Islamic body tacitly declars that it is under divine orders and oriented not toward this world but to transcendence. In the West, men and women often display and even flaunt their expensively acquired tans and finely honed bodies as a mark of privilege; Muslim bodies, concealed under layers of very similar clothing, emphasize the equality of the Islamic vision. By the same token, they assert the Koranic ideal of community over the individualism of Western modernity.”

… it’s funny because it gave me insight into my own trouble about plain dress. how plain dress and plain speech for me right now involve revealing all. all of who i am… believing that that’s important.

… i have more to say about both of those topics, but i have to go.

i read a “non-quaker’ quote that spoke to my condition this morning. it’s by sri nisargadatta maharaj.

“wisdom tells me i am nothing.
love tells me i am everything.
and between the two my life flows.”

this was an important quote for me, because lately, between the two my life has been careening in anger and blame… so finding a juxtaposition between the two that doesn’t mean i’m selfish and crazy… is nice.

Published in: on 9 March, 2007 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  

well, after spending some time in florida and san diego, in a heat & stomach-bug induced stupor of much tv-watching and video-game-playing, i came back home without puck, who was still in san diego with their family. puck had the computer, but one day, in the middle of stressful errands, i went to the library and used the computer to write an entry questioning panic & its place in a spiritual life, and typed up two more entries from my paper journal. i clicked “publish,” a message came up to say it had posted, but when i went to look at it, there was no new entry. and although i had copied it to the computer’s clipboard, the paste function didn’t work, so… i got sort of cranky. but now i am posting from the comfort of my own bed, puck sleeping next to me, butter cleaning himself in front of me, and secret scowling at her reflection behind me. i know i will be able to copy and paste, and so i’m going to try posting again. but about different things.

this sunday, i was the welcomer. there was a request for welcomers for christmas eve and new year’s eve, and i decided that i should ask to do new year’s eve, since i’d never done it before, and i’ve wanted to get involved in a helpful way with the meeting. i had a promise of a tour and orientation, but when it finally happened, i was somewhat dismayed to find out that it was just about the nuts & bolts of door unlocking and things, and nothing about what to say, how to say it, when to say it, or what to do if something went wrong. i asked about it, but the answer didn’t come in way that i really understood, but there was so much reassurance that nothing would go wrong, that i decided to trust that.

everything went well and the building manager wound up doing most of the things for me that i had been trained to do anyway. i welcomed people, and it was neat to see all the people coming in and to see a little bit about what goes on before meeting, rather than running in at 10:58 (usually i tutor a girl at 9:30 and come straight from that, but with the holidays, i didn’t.). my worry about feeling separate from the meeting for worship came true, and that’s the main reason that it’s not something i want to do a whole lot of at this time.

but the other reason was that at 10:35, someone came up and started opening the door with his suitcase. then the door shut with him and all his things on the other side. he tried to open it again, and so i went to help him and ask him some stuff. first i asked if he was there for meeting for worship, and he said, “yeah. are you?” this threw me off guard, of course, and i felt humbled in my classist assumptions.

a note: i live in the tenderloin which is “the bad part” of san francisco. i pass houseless people regularly. the meetinghouse is in my neighborhood, and i’ve learned that the rule is that people can sleep in front of the meetinghouse any time except for sunday mornings. at 9, they work to rouse them and send them away, and there was a challenge that sunday morning with a person who would not leave. this person looked decidedly different, but he definitely seemed like he lived on the street.

so, i let him in, and gave him a suggestion of where he could put his suitcase. he told me he’d been to meetings in alaska, and started walking to the door. i walked with him, but a few feet away i saw that robin was giving ministry. so i started to say that we should wait while she spoke, and i put my hand on the door. but i didn’t finish what i was saying, when he pulled the door open, being much stronger than me. part of me wanted to stop him still at that point, but i knew the choice then was to just let him go.

i stood around, watching him settle in, and took lots of deep breaths, and tried to connect to god about the whole thing, but then someone came out to talk to me. he said he’d felt called to come out and talk to me. he told me about how we don’t let people in when someone is giving ministry, but i explained that the door had been forced out of my hand. then he asked if maybe he shouldn’t have been let in at all, but i didn’t agree with that. it was good to have someone to talk to at that time, even though i mostly just felt embarassed, and we got hushed by someone through the window.

i felt sort of crushed by the whole thing. had i done the right thing? was there a right thing? and most importantly: would people think i was incompetent? i talked to a few people after meeting. 2 more people reminded me that i wasn’t supposed to let him in while someone was speaking, and i was able to explain, but… i don’t like that i was so quickly all about taking the blame off myself. i’m not sure if blame was even involved, but… just… i needed to tell people, “that thing that happened was not my fault.”

i spoke to robin who was fine with it and said that she was sure i’d done everything i could. a few other people said reassuring things. but in the end, there was just this feeling of commiseration about those wacky wacky street people and our problems with them.

it seems like this is opening some dialogue about the tools to give welcomers, but i… don’t think it’s just new welcomers that need tools. i don’t think we just need a direct answer for what to do if something like that happens… because… what is “something like that?” why do we need to guard our sanctuary? i’m not saying we don’t. but if we do, why do we?

the next day, yesterday, new year’s day, there was meeting for worship followed by a meal. i went, and as i was walking, i was thinking about this book we sell at the bookstore i work at. it’s called the god delusion. it’s new, it’s popular, it sits in front of the register. the book jacket talks about how it proves that religion is destructive and science is the answer. the reviews say things like, “this is the answer to the religious right, who will surely label the author the anti-christ.” i paged through it, and all i see is rage. i disagree with his premise. i think that religion can be destructive, but so can science.

but that’s not why i feel pangs of guilt and sorrow about selling that book. i don’t have control over its sale really, but it hurts to look at the book. it hurts because of the amount of rage. it hurts because i believe that rage is the problem. the “i am right, thus you are wrong” of it– it’s been done. it has done more damage than religion and science combined, because it’s where their problems come from too.

so, i found myself sitting with that at meeting. and i tried to look at the rage and understand it. and in a lot of ways i do. corruption, war, hypocrisy… these are upsetting things. the world is very damaged. it makes me angry, too. but not in the same way. not in the way that i want to write a book pointing fingers at anybody. but… i realized that he, like me when i get a good idea, probably thinks of his ideas as this huge, tremendous gift to the world. he can help it, he can save it, he wants to share his gift.

and then it came to me that our truths or our bits of the truth, however you want to look at it, are gifts. the question is how to give them as gifts and how to receive them as gifts.

when that came to me, i knew i had to speak. i felt dizzy, though, and pretty convinced that if i stood up i’d fall right over. but i didn’t and i said it and it felt big and real and scary. and then i was tired. and excited. but tired. after meeting, i decided that we really need some cots for laying down after something like that. i was pretty silent through the meal and dazed, and someone joked that i must have had a late night the night before. which was sort of true, but i’d gotten enough sleep to be fine during that meal (though i did fall asleep at the castro last night despite the fact that audrey hepburn was on the big screen right in front of me). it just… had been a big experience.

and it’s crazy because… i don’t know the answer to that question. AND i’m not even totally sure what it all means. but it seems important. we don’t want to share our beliefs like they are vases that would really look better where our friend’s favorite vase is. that’s not about the vase or our friend. it’s about us.

yesterday morning, before meeting, i was reading the letters in a friends journal from april ‘95 (someone donated a bunch to the meeting house library, and the librarian recommended i take some). john woodbury had something to say that resonated with me a lot. it’s related to what i said in ministry, and with my concern about christianity and how it can be right and complete and also not the only thing…

“We are all victims of language. Every word in our language is a symbol. We can’t talk about our inner life or our spiritual life in any other language but symbols, metaphors, allegories, and abstractions. In a way, a credo or creed, or statement of beliefs, has really nothing to do with where we are, because where we are is a matter of experience, not of the words we use to describe it.

Each of us has a very personal spiritual life, and we can only describe it in the words and vocabulary that we borrow. The richest and most common place that we get this vocabulary is the religous tradtion of our cultur, and most of us were born and raised and lived all our lives in a culture where the Christian mythology is the vocabulary or the language with which spiritual things are described. We borrow this vocabulary fo this source but also from other sources. We borrow it from our reasoning, we borrow it from the words and the literature of other people who think– and all kinds of sources.

I do not understand this fuss or why there is a fuss between Christocentric Quakers and Universalist Quakers because I have trouble with the Quaker use of the word Truth, with a capital T, as though any person can really know the spiritual Truth over and above everybody else.

If there is such a thing as absolute Truth, our perception of it is so imperfect that we have no right to be intolerant of anybody else’s perception of the Truth.”

… golly, i need to go to work.

this einstein quote was in something i read this morning and it really struck me:

“A human being is a part of the whole called the’universe,’ a part limited to time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of… consciousness. This deusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prsion by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in all its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievements is in itself part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.”

Published in: on 26 November, 2006 at 9:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

i have been talking to puck about the lack of proselytization with Friends. but then yesterday they mentioned that it was odd i used a quote that talked about the importance of evangelization. i read something this morning from our meeting’s seeker’s packet (d) about evangelizing that i wanted to put here, because it explains it better than i am currently able to.

“What is critical is the personal experience of the divine and that is possible for everyone. It does not matter that people have never heard the word God or the name of Christ… If they have the experience of the divine and respond to it they are part of our fellowship. If they have not had the experience of the divine or have not responded to it, they are still part of the covenant and one with us. This is why Friends are not evangelical in ordinary ways. We have no Truth to bring to others like a product to be handed over. We are called to show that Truth has us and by example demonstrate to others that they too can be found by God within.”

that’s from “Dear Friends: No Creed is Not the Same as No Theology” by Robert Griswold. i am nervous some about the specific use of God (again with the whole “you don’t have to believe in God, and we will respect you, and you will be as right as us, except that you secretly mean God” thing that feels so hypocritical/provincial), but i think i really like what that quote means anyway.

from 10-19, in my paper journal:

“my thought for today is that maybe–
maybe the thing with religion is that– christianity is such a human faith- historical- with this person who Actually Existed. & maybe that’s why it has such a tendency to splinter off & become different sects– because each generation has a new idea of what a human would do. & maybe, in a way unlike other religios maybe, some of its followers believe that it has to continue to be accessible if it ever was to have existed. because why would jesus have been made human if not to be accessible?”

Published in: on 22 November, 2006 at 11:39 am  Comments (1)  

“the soul selects her own society” : or what i want out of a quaker blog, PLUS extra bonus material about rage & cubbie

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.