i learned this week that “religio” means “relink.”

a few years ago, i had a dream that i was in an airport, running to catch my flight, and trying to say goodbye to three men, rev. andrew james brown of the cambridge unitarian church, mike michalson of new college of florida, and… some other guy (possibly the pastor of venice united church of christ). i hugged them, and then left. i don’t know where i was coming from, where i was going, or more importantly, when i actually had the dream.

the thing about these folks was that they were all positive male spiritual role models in my life. and in my dream, i was obviously leaving them. was i going further, back, or just somewhere else?

i’ve been thinking about this dream because i recently found that blog of andrew james brown’s. he was such a helpful person in my spiritual growth. he had such a positive and grounded view of spiritual questions that were sending me into giant flurries. AND he taught me to pick up trash. i’m still not very good at that. but if all my experiences with unitarians were like my experience with him, i’d be a unitarian still. and wouldn’t the quakers be sad.

michalson was my adviser in college. things went a little cockeyed with him at the end, because my life was going pretty cockeyed at the time. but i still admire him a whole awful lot. he’s why i studied religion in college. his humorous and balanced takes on christianity effected me a lot, pushing me past a lot of my bitterness and making it all a lot more interesting.

i think the dream was after i’d finished college and moved to seattle. if i was to place it in the place it made most sense, maybe it was once i’d started my americorps term and was realizing that working with kids was what really did it for me, as opposed to possibly going into the ministry myself.

recently i’ve started going to a conversation series at glide memorial church called “living the questions.” apparently a lot of churches do these conversations– there’s a video series and stuff. our conversations have not gone much further than check-ins, but i’m really excited about them. it’s a great way to get to know more people in a deep deep way, and i love that. the woman who leads them, paige rawson, is very inspiring, earnest, and joyful, and it’s that sort of thing where you feel like you are part of something really important.

this is all linked. and it’s all linked to quakerism for me. because sometimes i wonder if the ministry is for me. then i remember that i’m a wuss and a brat about certain things, and i remember that working with kids is completely, totally amazing and exactly what i should be doing, and then finally i remember that ministry is part of just being a quaker. i can be clumsy and bratty and new and wide-eyed, and i can work on the flaws in that, but it’s all part of cubbie the quaker minister, just by my living… my questions… and my seams.

david m. has said something that has resonated with me. what he likes about quakerism is that conversation and connection is part of the practice of quakerism. when i think about it, it’s part of other faith traditions as well, of course, but… it’s something that is so so so essential about quakerism for me. i’m excited to be reconnecting with parts of my pre-quaker past, and to branching out my connections right now as well. and i’m thrilled that all of these connections are helping my quakerism thrive as well.

Advertisements

war requiem and meme of fives

this past weekend, the san francisco choral society performed benjamin britten’s “war requiem” at davies hall. i met with some other quakers who held signs (i held my favorite “there is no fear in love, perfect love casts out fear”) and passed out leaflets with requests that people consider the spiritual aspects of the peace and what they could do to help end the war (one side was full of volunteer opportunities with the afsc). there was also a short paragraph inviting people to quaker meeting.

the response was entirely positive. i was very brave and handed out pamphlets, which i usually shy away from. i had a few mini conversations and overheard a few. there were comments along the lines of “i didn’t know you’d made it out west” or “you guys are cool!… i think.” also a woman came and asked why we were protesting the performance. i said we were really more in solidarity with it (the two organizers of our little group actually held tickets to the performance). she said she would write about us in her article about the concert, and she gave me her card. look out for the next issue of the “ukrainian weekly” for the news!

a newish quaker described us as like the proverbial light on the hill, but with a path completely obscured and blocked. the man’s saying he didn’t know we’d made it out west is in line with that idea. i like whacking away a few of the branches. some might call it proselytizing, some might call it witnessing… to me it’s just saying, “hey, we’re here. we’re an option in this world full of options. and we’re friendly… and look, there’s even a young one!”

***

robin did the meme of fives and it got me thinking about some things, so i’m going to post it, too.

“The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.”

1) What were you doing 5 years ago?
i was meeting izz, miranda, amy, and johanna for the first time. going to the portland zine symposium for the first time. getting a job with princess cruises on their phones. getting acclimated to life after college and life in seattle. getting freaked out about getting close to the first anniversary of my dad’s death. trying to find the right unitarian church to go to.

2) What are 5 things on your to-do list for today?
contact hr. call the building manager for the meetinghouse to make sure the young adults can meet. go work at the bookstore for 6 hours today. clean something. stop sniffling!

3) What are 5 snacks you enjoy?
cheese and crackers, cheese and apples, yukon gold potato chips, pickles, vegan donuts.

4) What are five things you would do if you were a billionaire?
take care of my mom, do nice things for the world, live somewhere pretty, visit lots of places, help my friends.

5) What are five jobs you’ve had?
rose grader, childcare worker, botanical bookstore clerk, assistant in the humanities office, college bookstore clerk. (i decided to go chronological.)

and like robin, i don’t know who to tag, but it’s fun, you should do it.

paper journal entry from 11-3.

“i’ve been reading so much spiritual stuff, but i’ve realized i should really work more on synthesizing &* digesting it. in some ways, i’ve been just swallowing a lot of it, without really tasting it– so how could i understand it.

most recently, i read an essay about mel gibson’s passion of christ** film. the gist seemed to be that jews need to get over themselves– the anti-semitism isn’t meant, the film isn’t about them.

i feel like in a lot of ways this winds up becoming a ‘christianity is about faith’ vs. ‘christianity is about caring for others’ argument. & so… the author is right, but if one finds the message of christ a humanitarian one, making a film about him that hurts people intimately– doesn’t seem right.

—***

i’ve been thinking so much lately about quakerism vs. uu. uu’s keep feeling like such wishy-washy quakers. the humanitarian ideals are there– but they so much lack the sense of personal responsibility– the quaker understanding of this seems to come so much from the belief in a christ/god within that must answer to the same within others– that one cannot/should not rest until that has been answered– while uu’s seem to come from such a place of ‘we have been wounded & are tender & exploring’ which is fine a lot– but a poor endpoint.

my us vs. them thing makes me nervous. just last night i talked about the danger of being disdainful to who we’ve been…

[last night, i was] thinking about how the problem is not with choice but with lazy choices. i think its fine to bring together things from multiple traditions– if they resonate, if they are real, if they feel true, if they challenge as well as comfort. we live in such a multicultural society, to ignore others’ paths to the truth is xenophobic in some ways.

…**** i had it so well in my head last night. it was tight & beautiful– without the flowers that seem to be getting in my way now.

we all come to the truth from different directions. it doesn’t matter if your path is eclectic, as long as you walk it authentically.

i really want to be a quaker, and i really, weirdly, want t proselytize.

‘here is beauty & community & supporting love. here is a challenge to be your best self. come.’

i’m nervous about how self-y i get in my spiritual searches. i get squinty-eyed & hunkered down– to work. distractions make me stressed & harsh. in such an intimate relationship as that which i have, that can be bad. i’d like to greet distraction kindly. it could give me as much gifts as solitude.

***

i just read an essay from the quaker seekers packet about ‘friends & womankind.’

i’m so used to viewing gender as passe & hurtful. it divides, it imposes rules, it devalues who we really are.

but! gender can be who we really are. i know that.

i only ever have patience for people who strive for authenticity– by my own perceptions & judgments of such.”

* i am actually completely incapable of drawing an ampersand. but i do a shorthand “and” that is like a swoopy t or plus sign. ironically, i started doing this after my fifth grade teacher told us we were not allowed to use it in our work. i’d never seen such a thing before. i don’t think i ever used it in my work, or at least i tried hard not to. i’m explaining this so that you know that my journal is not actually full of ampersands. sadly.

** in my writing, i underline rather than italicize. can one actually italicize while writing. i have not figured it out.

*** the — is when i have a line drawn between sections of an entry. sometimes i will indicate this with asterisks here.

**** usually …’s mean that i’m leaving something out, but not in this case. the ellipsis is in journal.

so!

my thought has been that i will use this space to record things that i’ve already written down elsewhere– either on my livejournal or in emails or in my paper journal. this seems important so that i keep writing about this in those places and don’t just have thoughts so i can put them here, or neglect those other places. but yeah, my paper journal especially has been full of things i really want to actually talk about with quakers.

i’m having a time crunch this morning (and probably will most mornings), but i’ve got a collection of paper journal entries i want to post. they are making me a little nervous because they leave me pretty bare, but i think that’s important.

so from the second of october, i have:

“i figured out what drives/drove me so crazy about olympia unitarians–

when i was in england, rev. andrew james brown gave me a newsletter with a christmas entry he’d written in it. the essay was about how for unitarians, the magic of christmas was the hope that any baby could be a christ– the divine potential was so exciting to me.

but it felt like the olympia unitarians– or at least the minister believed that no one could be a christ. the general feel good message with the lack of any challenge toward dynamic existence was tiresome. so wishy-washy and uninspiring. i guess people do need congratulations for continuing to exist in this distressing world. but i think we need more.

i must like quakerism because in the silence it’s just me and my smugness.”

(so much to be nervous about there. a lot of my nervousness is my tossing around of giant theological terms in a way that is very idiosyncratic to my head. for example, christ there means… savior. but not necessarily god-savior, and hopefully not even martyr-savior either. but. someone who changes the world in a GIANT way for the better.)

october 16:

“i came out as trans to quaker meeting today. i hated doing it, because i felt so big and about me, but it had to be done, because it was all too awkward otherwise.

i thought about puck and me at meeting– trying so hard to figure that out. i realized that so much of my problem is with blame and guilt, so i thought about taking them out and throwing them far away. blame was like a hot red coal and guilt was a mucus-y ball of hardened snot. i felt so free. but it came back and comes bak so much. it’s so much a part of me– & i know it’s poisonous and it’s the exact opposite of everything i love and believe– and yet it sticks around so fiercely.”

and then 2 days later on the 18th:

“the thing is, really, how much i actually do judge.

the thing is that so frequently my spiritual seeking says, ’see! i’m right! someone else said it.’”

… and now i need to go.

excellent, cub, tell them a bunch of the ways in which you are a jerk and then go away. that’ll keep ‘em coming back.