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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i have a few unpublished drafts since my last post, and little idea as to what i’m going to post right now. i have the awareness of the fact that i’m going to be in two quaker anthologies soon, and am also aware that i think of myself as a writer, so… i should be writing.

of course there’s the whole quaker thing of waiting for the spirit to lead. but then there’s the part about not letting things get rusty.

i’ve been pretty busy lately. i am the registrar for the sf meeting’s memorial day retreat, so that was some of the start of it. some finances immediately went wonky after the retreat (you should have seen it… steve l. and me congratulating ourselves about how no toilets had overflowed or towels caught on fire… and then i got home and suddenly there were thousands of missing dollars! the money that was truly missing has been sorted out, but there is still a financial mess to work through, and now i have to figure out how much we should charge in the future, and how two years with roughly the same amounts of people had two vastly different amounts of money coming in…) and that’s not my strong point in terms of registraring.

the clearness committee on my concern has been bumpy, and i’m continuing to have mixed feelings about the young adult group and diversity committee. i’m somehow clerk of children’s religious education, and i’m on a membership clearness committee.

i wish there was a way for this to all happen, but for it to feel different. someone asked about my quakerism recently, someone who i’ve known for 2 years and see about twice a year, and this time, it was all about how busy i am. and it wasn’t much about… god.

one of my drafts is called “should quakers be institutionalized?” referring to this process that i’m just starting to learn about. i’m not sure how but quakerism has shifted rather swiftly from being about transformation into being a good grown-up for me. which doesn’t feel exactly right.

i’m not just busy with quaker things, and i’m not just confused about god because of my quaker-themed busy-ness, but i am curious about how to handle these responsibilities a little more joyfully and a little less pinched.

it’s funny, isn’t it?

the way that things happen and they are incredible and you say “i will remember this and keep this forever” and then you blink and you are in the thick of something new and different and where is that thing that you were going to keep forever?

my job has been insane. the past two weeks, i’ve put in at least 50 hours if not 60 each week. but there’s that way that many days i come home sort of energized, or if not energized, at least i feel like the work that i am doing and the good that it does deserves the deep exhaustion i feel. instead of coming home and going “no, i cannot relax right now because i did not do enough meaningful stuff today” which i’ve been known to do, i am able to let myself relax. that’s nice.

but there are also days… well, there are days that i do that work and i come home and i am exasperated and upset. i’m working on those.

but today, i am here to write about the staff retreat. the staff retreat happened before a lot of things and it’s less than a month, and already my eyes are less shiny about the whole thing, but i still believe it was incredible. which is saying a lot because we did work stuff together for many many hours and i’m used to my meeting’s retreats where even with my job as registrar, i feel like the hardest work i have to do is deciding whether i want to read a book inside the lodge or out in the orchard.

the folks that i work with are a boisterous crew. i was nervous about going with them all to quaker center– a place that’s always just been peaceful for me. i really really like them, but i wasn’t sure what it would feel like.

and the weird thing was, it didn’t feel weird.

the morning of the second day, i went up to the casa de luz, where the san francisco meeting has its meetings for worship during our retreats. well, actually, first i went to the redwood circle because i’d never been for whatever reason, and one of the new people to our agency was amazed by it, and i felt i should get to know it. then up to the casa, where i sat and looked out the window and prayed. awhile later, people started coming up. it’s where the first part of our agenda after breakfast was scheduled to happen. the activity we did involved scenarios involving ethical dilemmas. at the end of that session, we had a checkin, and i was able to honestly say that i felt like we were a good group to be using that space. i spoke about how i’m a quaker (which people knew) and that i was worried about how folks would use this space that is in some ways sacred to me, but that i really felt like what we were doing was in line with quakerism– this particular practice of asking questions and honestly looking deep within.

at the end of the three days, we met in the redwood circle for a closing. we got the “mailboxes” we’d made and had been putting things in for folks, and were encouraged to look at our mail in silence and to contemplate the weekend in silence, and then to speak out of the silence. i’ve never been to a quaker meeting that involved so much giggling or, um, playfighting, but even in that, i was able to say that these folks were really important to me. i spoke about george fox saying to walk cheerfully through the world, answering that of god in everyone, and how a way to look at that is to find something to honor in everyone, and i really feel like these folks do that. at least with each other (the executive director speaks to the site coordinators like equals) and, more importantly, with the youth that we work with.

honestly, i’m writing this now, because i need a little bit of reminding of this weekend already. it’s been a stressful time, and the agency is not perfect. but those things– honoring questions and people, and looking deep to find answers– i can still see.

in april or so, i applied for a job with the agency i’d been working with all school year. my immediate supervisor was leaving and her job was open. after 1 time being rejected for the job, 2 interviews, and many resumes sent to the agency, i just got the job. they told me on thursday, the day before my last day of summer program, when i was seriously asking myself, “what do i do next!?”

i’m going to actually get paid sort of enough to live off of. and i’m going to have a lot more intense responsibilities than i’ve ever had before. there’s a lot of quaker-related stuff i could ruminate about here, about all of that.

but really, it’s just funny coincidence sharing time, because where is the annual staff retreat that’s happening in a week and a half? oh yes, ben lomond quaker center, in the beautiful santa cruz mountains, among the redwoods. i think i’ve been there before.

i hear it’s pretty structured– totally unlike the meeting’s retreat… i wonder if i’ll get to go to the casa.

Published in: on 2 August, 2008 at 11:51 am  Comments (3)  

chad has been teasing me lately because i have the key to all over the meetinghouse now, and “you know what that means,” he says. responsibility! he was the young adult group’s guest speaker this past week, and he even brought his own guest speaker, wess daniels, via the magic of the internet. that was pretty exciting.

this morning, he teased me again, because i recognized almost all of the young adults who were at meeting. he says that’s like having keys. it feels good.

but it’s also funny to be this official. it’s funny to be the young adult guy– to organize speakers and be in this middle place. it’s a different middle place than it was a few months ago– more practical, less interpersonal. i’m not translating anybody these days. i’m just making sure spaces get reserved and things like that.

it’s also starting to be time for my job as retreat registrar to really get underway. i was co-registrar last year, and now i’m testing myself and seeing if i can actually keep it all together. so far it’s not going to badly, except for the embarrassing fact that waiting for stamp and photocopy reimbursements is an actual financial strain.

i’ve been applying to jobs for next school year. i just this week got my summer plans mostly sorted out. but next school year, a lot of school jobs are already taken, and i’m actually wondering if i just in fact want to work with people. kids are people, of course, and i love working with them, but i’m wondering if maybe i just like work that stretches my interpersonal skills.

i’m really into scary conversations right now. i actually don’t have that many, but i love them. i want to learn how to hold them and make them safe. i think this is definitely linked to my anti-racist concern. i’ve had my first clearness committee about this whole diversity thing. and we’ve finally got a date for the ad hoc working group on diversity. i want to learn how to facilitate things and make people glad that they went to scary places together. i think that’s the only way that change happens.

listen listen listen. it will bust you open and you will be glad.