confessions of a professional grad school applicant, pt. 1

2 out of 10 or 11 schools have been visited and now i have a weekend to rest, reflect, and spend time with friends and family before i visit 2 more on monday.  so many adventures have already been had and we only left the bay area on tuesday.

the school year closed on June 15.  June 18 was a teacher work day.  June 19-21, t & i went to art trainings sponsored by the school district.  while t was learning about a whole year’s worth of art curriculum, i was off learning <a href=”http://selfassuperhero.com/students.html”>how to turn myself and my students into superheroes</a>, through a workshop run by the <a href=”http://www.ahc-oakland.org/index.html”>attitudinal healing connection</a>, one of the many fun activities i’ve participated in in the bay area that makes me vaguely concerned i’m joining a cult.  but the workshop was fantastic and i had a great time and am excited about how to use all of that in the classroom.  and i mean, it’s rare that i get to spend 3 days making art.

friday…  we did more things, i don’t remember…  saturday and sunday were about packing and socializing, and then monday was crunch time.  a lawyer appointment (student loans are already separate when you get married and war tax resistance debt is illegal so it can’t be covered in a pre-nup anyway, so we don’t have to get a pre-nup, thank you <a href=”http://www.milesfamilylaw.com/about.html”>dylan miles</a>), a gps purchase, an oil change, shoe exchanging, prescription pick-up, and a car drop-off all meant for a busy day and very little sleep because there was still cleaning, sorting, laundry, and packing to do.  and a bag of split peas to spill all over the floor because that’s just fun at 1 in the morning.

tuesday morning, i got up and biked as fast as i could to the vet to pick up secret’s thyroid pills and then back home.  then i walked as fast as i could to the pet food store to get cat food and litter but it wasn’t open yet so i walked back.  i finished up the laundry and other bits of things, and then went back to the pet food store, ran home, stocked up the cat food, and changed the litter box.  we dashed to our flight, and after t and i stood around waiting for them to find a female security guard to frisk t because she didn’t want to radiate the baby, we finally made it to our flight just as they were calling our name on the intercom.  this was particularly tragic because we hadn’t refilled our water bottles or gotten extra food for the pregnant lady.  but we made it onto the flight, hurray.

after a transfer in atlanta that seemed ridiculous because we would be renting a car to drive to atlanta (and where we finally got properly hydrated and fed (we DID get t as much water as possible on the plane, don’t worry)), we got on the next plane.  in line in front of us was friendly chatty woman and a young man.  the woman engaged us all in conversation and the young man wound up telling us all about how he had just gotten back from teaching english in china.

we made it to rdu at about 11 at night.  as we were going to baggage claim we found our english-teaching friend surrounded by his parents, covered in “welcome to the usa!” paraphernalia, smiling ruefully and sweetly into a camera one of them was holding up.  it was totally charming.

i sent t off to the rental car place while i waited for our luggage (which only got checked because we were so late and there was no room in the overhead bins).  when i got to the rental car place and found her, she was standing next to a giant SUV.  GIANT.  it was totally hilarious to me, and potentially hilarious to t, but currently terrifying and annoying.  fortunately they’d told her she could return it the next day and probably get the economy car she’d requested, so we headed off to quickly stay the night at the house of my good friend, j from the internet and her lovely husband.  the house is an absolutely adorable home with a screened-in porch in durham, nc.

then in the morning, we poked around getting ready, probably a little too long, and then got on the road back to the rental car place.  it took them awhile to find us our promised economy car, but eventually we had that and were really back on the road.  after stops in random places for things like soup at panera bread, gas from gas stations, and coffee from coffeehouses too far into town, we arrived at athens, georgia at 7:01 for our 7:00 dinner meeting with a grad student from the language & literacy education department at uga.  The food and conversation was lovely, and we talked a lot about the lower cost of living.  one topic was the price of traffic and parking tickets, and so it was funny when we got back to our rental car and found a $10 parking ticket on the windshield.

then we drove to lawrenceville, a suburb of atlanta that i’d visited before, to stay with one of my lovely friends from college, her husband, and her stepdaughter.  we had an entire little basement suite, and there were friendly cats and a fridge stocked with string cheese and luna bars just for us.

the next morning, we went back to athens where i met with three professors from the lled program.  they were all fantastic and great to talk with.   i got fed and everyone was just super friendly.  i think athens could be a really good fit for our budding family and uga would be an excellent place to go to school.  there are still questions about the livability of the funding, but t & i were pretty excited by our second day’s visit.

then we drove through the famous heavy traffic, to gsu in atlanta.  as we were driving up, a woman leaned into a cop car and started talking with the officers and then walked in front of them and a whole bunch of other fast traffic.  i was there to speak with grad students from the special education program.  i’ve been realizing more and more that special ed programs are frequently about interventions and quantitative research which is wonderful and important but maybe i’m more of a critical theory person.  the students i spoke with at gsu were wonderful and friendly, but i started to think that maybe i wasn’t looking at the right program there.  then i went outside to wait for trisha and observed some sexual harrassment, had someone creepily ask to use my phone, and saw the same 2 guys walk around the block multiple times.  i finally went back inside because i really needed to use the bathroom, and then after passing the gauntlet of a couple making out against the bathroom door, there was another guy trying to get me to give him my student card for him to use….  when i told t that maybe gsu wasn’t for me, she was relieved, because she’s just spent that whole time battling the traffic.

we went back to the little suburb and after trying to find a publix with the gps and instead driving to the publix warehouse, we went to dinner with my friend and her family.  that was great.  after some family tv watching, we all went to our bedrooms.  i took a shower and then trisha took a shower, but as she was showering, it sounded like the toilet flushed, and then the water that had been building in the tub also went down the drain.  after she got out of the shower, the whole floor from the bathroom through half the kitchenette was covered in water, and so we cleaned that up, washed our feet and went to bed.

the following morning i had a meeting with the dean, who is the brother-in-law of one of the members of the sf quaker meeting and who sounds like a paragon of integrity.  i was told by the quaker brother-in-law that he would be honest about all of the schools i was looking at so i sort of used the time to go through my list with him.  unfortunately he couldn’t find a bad choice on my list.

after that, t and i met with some grad students at the home of the professor who was sort of hosting this trip, and we went out for food, and then gave us a lot more information about the program.  i am absolutely sold on the program and trisha was absolutely sold on the town.  the only flaw was the funding.

then, as we were driving out and the gun shop billboards started to fly past, she got a little more nervous, but we are in agreement that even if we choose athens and uga, it doesn’t have to be forever.

we got back to the car rental at 11 again, and j from the internet bravely drove us back to durham in a giant wind storm.

i’ve been emailing professors at schools like crazy, and it’s stressful but also a lot of fun in many ways.  it’s nice to have people helping me out and talking with me (and taking me out for food!).  it’s a great way to spend a summer.

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Published in: on 30 June, 2012 at 4:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

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.

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.

trying to read some blogs for once. i’m sort of debating getting a netbook at some point in the nearish-esque future, because i really don’t have a lot of time in front of a computer where i can really sit down and read or write. my emails feel very scattered because they are fast unconnected sentences with as much info as i can remember to include in a very short period of time. this isn’t because i’m particularly busy, but because the computers i use aren’t mine, so i always feel slightly invasive. this has been the case for years, but i think i’m ready to regain my computing independence. especially since i plan on going back to school in the summer/fall.

it’s been interesting, because the little bit of reading i just did all sort of “speaks to my condition.” let’s see if i can explain it in a semi-swift but still complete manner.

as you may know, i’ve had a sort of concern about diversity. this seemed to be leading me toward niyonu spann’s beyond diversity 101 workshop, but that has been postponed multiple times and now i’m not sure if or when i will be able to attend. i have a clearness committee that is theoretically around that, but the past few meetings have mostly enlightened me to how fuzzy-headed i feel.

at the most recent one, we decided to check in about meeting about once every three months. i was asked what i wanted in the meantime. i said, “conversations and resources.” everyone agreed.

a couple of weeks went by. i blinked a little. and then i started making some phone calls. and on an almost weekly basis, i’ve been getting together with a different person from my clearness committee. and some new things are starting to form. i’m a little shy about sharing them here just yet, because they’re… tender… and unformed somewhat. but something is actually starting to come into shape. and i’m getting a little excited again.

but/and… i’m going to be busy soon. i’m on nominating committee this year, which apparently always means that you join a committee that you theoretically didn’t have time for before, but when you get rejected so many times, you start to feel guilty and take on stuff. so i joined children’s religious ed. which i’ve meant to do for about a year now, so… and then there’s that whole starting school thing. and then there’s the busy-ness that i think my leading will… lead… to.

and so it was interesting to read various posts about tending the inward fire, and , and, er, reading batman. they seem linked. that blend of self-care and faithfulness. it’s good. i like it. i would like to post all three in my head’s bulletin board for easy access, but… i don’t have one of those, so… i’ll have to figure something else out. like, um, maybe a good inward fire.

i’m still figuring out if i’m knocking and it is being given to me, or if i’m just trying to put on some sort of show. but… my hibernation for the past few months hasn’t felt like much of a show.

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?

this past saturday was the teachers for social justice conference.

rewind a little for me to tell you that, um, i quit my job. you know, the one i’d been glowing about not too long ago. i still love the agency, but in terms of skills and interests, the position wound up not being a good match for me. i spent some time feeling elated and free after quitting and then there was a deep crash in motivation and self-confidence. i found a job rather quickly, and i’ll probably be starting that on friday, but the climb out of mild depression is not as swift as i would like. i’m fine, but it’s weird going from Having a Purpose to Um… What Should I Be Doing With Myself?

but the teachers for social justice conference was a help in that.

funnily enough, both of the workshops that i went to had something to do with transformation in the title. it absolutely wasn’t intentional, but you know, that’s always been one of my interests. the first was on transformative life skills. the job i’m starting soon is as a paraprofessional (which means a classroom assistant, usually with special education students), and the workshop seemed like it might give me some good tools to use with students one on one, especially those with attention issues and stuff. it was all about breathing and centering and stuff like that, so it kind of was about being a quaker. it was interesting how the workshop was both about helping kids find ways to calm down and about helping us educators be calm. (they did a great impression of educators frantically trying to get kids to calm down. “settle down! SETTLE DOWN!!!”)

the other workshop was “Message to Transformative Teachers: The Process and Potential of a Culturally Empowering Pedagogy.” i picked it out of a ton of inspiring looking workshops, and honestly, the number of wonderful buzzwords in a lot of the descriptions became sort of a blur to me, and i couldn’t tell if i was going to this workshop because i understood what it was about or because i didn’t. but it was pretty amazing. i took tons of notes and part of me is tempted to put them all up here. but the gist of the whole thing was how we need to really understand where youth are coming from and not blame them for being who they are. it was particularly for working with high school aged youth of color. i don’t work with high school aged youth, but the workshop still felt applicable. the presenter, patrick camangian, was hugely inspiring and great to listen to.

the thing that’s stuck with me most is just the offhand comment that he made about how “thuglife” is actually an acronym. i had no idea. i guess it comes from tupac, and it stands for “the hate you give little infants fucks everybody.” it’s pretty amazing. it’s been going over and over in my head a lot since then, informing my thoughts on the systems and institutions in this society.

yesterday, i had to get a tb test, and i went to the public health clinic that i usually go to. i tend to go to the transgender night, but this is the second time i’ve had to do a walk-in during regular hours. i arrived 1 hour after they opened, the number that was showing on the board was 66, i pulled number 79. i sat for 2 hours and watched as the number crawled up to 69.

this place is ugly, doesn’t seem totally clean, and the bathrooms smell really bad. the people who work there are tired and grouchy. the people who go to the clinic are primarily people of color, and since it’s a public health clinic, they are all pretty darn poor.

after two hours i stepped outside and called around to other clinics that had been referred to me for this process. i finally became convinced that the “adult and travel immunization clinic” would actually work for my work tb test, and wow, it was actually the same building. the front door this time instead of the sketchy back alley entrance. it’s clean, there’s carpet, there’s music playing, the receptionist smiled at me, and i got seen in half an hour. the people around me were mostly white, and seemed mostly middle class.

in the first clinic, a man came in and not finding a place to sit, sat on the trash can.

today i was talking to a friend and she said, “do you think infants get hated often?” and i said, “maybe not directly, but institutions are constantly telling them and their families that they are garbage.”

after i got my tb test yesterday, i took the bus home. a man and woman got on the bus carrying full trashbags. i think they were full of cans. i was reading, but soon i noticed that an african-american woman was yelling at them. something about how they had insulted the way that she smelled, but it’s them that smelled. the woman with the bag and the african-american woman threatened each other. the woman with the bags got up and started yelling, “i’m not afraid. i’m not afraid.” she seemed chicana or native american. i got off a stop early because it was crowded and i was freaked out. as i was walking home, i saw basically everybody get off at the next stop, and the man punching the window of the back door of the bus, yelling “you better get off that bus right now” the glass was broken, and spit came flying out.

the hate you give little infants fucks everybody.

me saying that has elements of appropriation, and it’s definitely been used with more violent rage than i’m comfortable with, but it’s true and it’s big.

what am i going to do about it, i’m not sure yet. i really want to, though.

there are many sides to any story. there are many sides to my own stories. there are the stories i tell now and the stories i’ll tell tomorrow. and there are the stories that tell one part of how i feel right now, and stories that tell a whole other part of how i feel.

the important part of my last post for me was that Right Then, i was feeling Very Disillusioned. as i wrote it, i tried to express that it was probably temporary and that i also felt a load of other things. i was as frustrated with the person in question, and as sympathetic to my meeting as i was angry and disillusioned. it felt urgent and it still feels important that i wrote it from the lens that i did, because i don’t express that part of things much. and there’s always a part of me that wants more from quakers, that wants to push harder, that wants to hold the group accountable to the things that i’ve learned from quakerism to hold myself accountable to.

it hurt people. i didn’t want to hurt people. but it’s hard not to hurt people when one is speaking from hurt. (which is a potential lesson from our experience with that person.) but there’s also tremendous potential for healing. which was what i was going for. i was hoping that in being honest about how i felt about the situation, i could heal and the meeting could heal.

of course, with blogs, honesty becomes one-sided and poisonous. whether you intend it or not. it doesn’t feel like dialog, and it can seem invasive.

i’m leaving my post up, because it’s true. it’s also only part of something. it’s not totally true. it’s not my whole truth, and it’s not The whole truth. but it’s true for what it is. and because there are posts before it and after it that keep it in context. our meeting wasn’t perfect, it did the best it could, it’s been amazing for me, i wish it could be amazing for everyone. that’s what i tried to tell. you miss that if you only read that post. that’s another scary thing about blogs. mine’s a conversation with myself and it’s easy to misunderstand things when you just catch part of a conversation. it might be a generational thing, i might be embarrassed someday, i regret that it was hurtful, but i think this blog serves the community best when the seams show. a flawless community is not real– as much as i wish it were.

i’ve gotten 10 visitors in the past few days that have visited my site from searching for cubbie, quaker, and blog. before these past few days, that had happened a couple of times, but once i became controversial, people wanted to find me. i hope that they will come back and see the calm days, the loving days, the joyful days. those are most days.

i hate that our meeting has caused people pain. i hate it because it has not caused me pain, and that makes me feel strangely guilty, very sad, and a little angry at everyone involved. who are you that you can not be perfect to me and also this person? who are you that you do not find the perfection here? who am i that i am willing to accept this place that has wounded you?

when i posted about feeling like an enabler, it was true. there have been times when i feel like i’m making excuses for abusive behavior to a wounded person. i am not wounded by these people, but i’ve seen it happen, and i’ve tried to make the woundings not true. “have you tried this? have you considered that?” i feel like i’m making excuses. there is a truth to the disconnect between mine and others’ experiences that is not abuse, but it feels so much like my experience of dealing with abuse that i don’t know how else to name it yet. i’ve known denial. i haven’t known this “one person’s medicine being another person’s poison” like this before.

since my post, i’ve gotten 3 phone calls and a few emails. i’ve felt embarrassed, stalked, hounded, and loved. every conversation, i expected some sort of cease and desist order, but instead, i got love. some hurt, some agreement, tons and tons of love. and not just to me. i heard about so much love for this man. and honestly, i’d sort of forgotten that part, even as i claimed to sort of remember. i’m sorry i forgot. i’m sorry if you felt like your efforts and care was dismissed. i screw up. and you still love me. i raged like i did because i believed we could handle it. i forgot that that could hurt you, but i knew i’d be forgiven. that’s pretty juvenile, i guess. i’ll try not to take advantage of that again.

talking with him that day reminded me that i need to be honest. and it reminded me that i have not been faithful to all that i should be honest about. i’ve talked in my clearness committees about my yearnings for scary conversations, and haven’t really done them. i initiated a one-sided scary conversation over here, not expecting the sort of follow-up it had, and was confronted with a number of scary conversations that made me want to show up at meeting with movie star dark glasses. but i didn’t. i held myself accountable to my words. and now i will start on those scary conversations that need to be had. the ones that don’t ambush– the ones where we choose to be brave and face each other and ourselves… and god or whomever is there to keep us safe there.

guest post: stephen matchett’s listen epistle

stephen matchett is one of my personal heroes. his understanding of god and the world is so gentle and loving that i can’t help but be inspired. he’s the first person i go to with spiritual concerns. part of that is because we’ve got a similar outlook on things, and part of it is that i know i will be stretched by his perspective.

recently, we were talking with a newish quaker, and he asked us both what we thought quakerism needed. stephen spoke about how it’s actually a religion and people forget that. i rambled about demographics and diversity… then after a minute, i said something about listening– about how we could all listen better– to ourselves, to god, to each other. stephen pulled this out of his bag. i asked him if i could post it here. he said yes. it’s also in our meeting’s newsletter for this month.

An Epistle
submitted by Stephen Matchett, from an epistle-writing exercise that was part of the final session of Krista Barnard’s recent series on spirituality and the Bible. (2/19/2008)

To Friends in meeting: Now the time has come for you really to listen to one another, to the messages each brings, with open, tender ears and hearts, not with suspicion, not derailed and distracted by language or preconceptions; God’s moment is here, the Spirit breaks in, you are poised at a convergence of the currents of life that can take you far and bear you up and amplify my Peace, Word and Revelation if you let them pour in. Listen: If you have given up, or come up dry before, or made a judgment that I have departed from here, come back. There is more going on than you know. Listen: If you are assailed by perceived criticisms, put out by the apparent demands of workers who came late to the harvest, or jealous of the Truth you have come to know, then know that others may not express my gift in the same way; relax into my Peace; but do not doubt my love for all, or the purpose of my instruction.

Opening to my message together may be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. Agreement on first principles must be in the heart and must proceed from trust.

You need not dispute. Build one another up. If you falter or fall back, don’t give up. Bear with one another. Listen: I am speaking through each one of you. Listen.

the three new stages of cubbie.

1) i’ve reached a new stage in my transition.

now, when i make eye contact with and smile at men, they look at me funny.

i have no idea what to do with that, especially in light of that whole “walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of god in everyone” thing.

how do i live my gender & my faith and not get punched in the face? how is it that the traits that i’m cultivating in my quaker life have already been socialized into me via the gender i was raised in– listening, caring, smiling at people in the street? is quaker essentially feminine? (WHAT DOES THAT MEAN ANYWAY!?) and then, also, why are there so many more men in my meeting than women? is that across the board in quakerism?

2) i’ve reached a new stage in my quakerism.

i went to the war anniversary march and rally on wednesday evening. most of the local quakers had participated in civil disobedience (or holy obedience as someone said today) in the morning, but because of work, i couldn’t do that. but a few of us were able to meet at the evening event.

there weren’t a lot of us, but i think it was good that we were there. i think it was good for us, and also good for the atmosphere to have us still and silent and peaceful at this rally where people were proclaiming that need for the end of war “by any means necessary.”

for me, the most incredible experience was when a man came up to me and talked. at first i was very nervous, because i wasn’t sure if i would be clear or correct, or if i would make myself and/or quakers look stupid. so instead i just listened to him. he had a lot to say, and i smiled (and made eye contact) and nodded and made sympathetic faces and noises, and i didn’t say anything. he talked for awhile, and then clamped me on the shoulder and said he felt better.

i said, “thank you.”

that was one of those “yeah, i’m a quaker and i’m so glad” moments.

3) i’ve reached a new stage in my theology.

quakers don’t do holidays, because we’re supposed to be living those holidays all the time.

but i also think there is a human need for holidays and remembrances and things. to remind us. maybe we should always remember, but it’s nice to be reminded.

i particularly get the winter holidays. how else would we get through winter without hopeful feasts of light and love?

it’s funny that i get them, because i grew up in florida. and i attribute my florida childhood to the reason why spring holidays don’t move me as much. light in the darkness grabs me more than the gradual entrance of surrounding light. part of it is that i’ve got horrible flower allergies, so i meet spring with some nervousness, dread, and pain each year.

AND, as i’ve been contemplating jesus and the meaning of his life, i’ve gotten stuck at that last bit. that death and resurrection bit. i’ve known it as a story from my childhood that means something on a deep level to many people– and there death has made sense, but the idea of a literal resurrection has been such a block for me that i haven’t been able to figure out the metaphor.

and then last night, during the young adult quaker movie night, we watched “portrait of a radical” from the series “crisis of faith.” it was about jesus and his life and what it meant. and i don’t think it was said, but suddenly something clicked and i could understand the resurrection as that amazing realization that jesus’s life and spirit didn’t end with his death. which is something i’ve been contemplating lately anyway– how to live a christlike life and stuff… and so the joy of realizing that sort of resurrection made sense.

it’s interesting because for me, my own easter happens over halloween. the anniversary of my father’s death and being faced with the world’s mockery of death brings me to a place of reflection about the power of life and love. i mourn over his self-destruction and remember that there can be so much more for me. i don’t have to drown in myself and the world. i can keep going, keep loving, keep living.

it’s not exactly the same of course. my father is not christ, my own human potential is not what easter is about, but the sense of transformation is similar, i think.

i know the secret to life. i’m okay when everything is not okay.

i’m at one of those magnificently shaky times where i feel like i have grasped the secret of the universe. *laughs*

it’s one of those times where i feel really grounded and like i’ve “got it” — but i know from experience that these moments are actually just a flicker in a life. that the thing that i’ve got will become part of my being, or i might even forget it, and not long from now, i will be caught up in the drama and confusion again.

i feel steady, but i know that factually, i am new to this faith, i am young, i am in love, i am myself in all of my flaws, and so i know that there will be more insights to come, and that i am coming at my life through this one lens.

BUT paradoxically, that knowledge makes me feel all the more grounded. because this awareness of my particular position, and this acceptance of that… is new.

the historical meaning of the word “convinced” in quaker terms, as i understand it, is something more along the lines of “convicted” than, um, believing something that’s been proven to you, as we understand the word today. i feel like that has happened to me recently. i feel like i have a path to follow and i need to be true to it, and i have been convicted in that way.

there’s always been that self-hate aspect to my understanding of christianity. i always thought that i could only get to know god if i hated myself. and the narrative that i hear so frequently about this “convincing” involves this sudden belief in one’s unworthiness.

and now i think i’m there. but it’s not unworthiness like… i’m bad. but this unworthiness like, i’ve got this tall order coming in from god, will i be faithful or will i get lost? and also this deep deep gratitude for everything, and feeling awed by that. we are all unworthy of this universe, and yet we are part of it and that is acceptable.

at some early morning session at our meetinghouse, someone from m&o said this thing– and it resonated, but of course now i’ve forgotten the exact words or where he got it from– but it was something like “you are fine just the way you are AND you could use some work.” and for me, that’s exactly IT right now.

i’ve been wrestling a lot with self-compassion and compassion for others lately. defensiveness and welcoming and sitting in sorrow and not trying to fix things immediately. and i feel like that quote is the secret to it. for me right now. i am fine just the way i am AND i could use some work. the people who i can’t stand right now… the people who i love but who disappoint me… the people who i adore… it’s true for us all. we are all connected and interconnected by this odd mix of being the exact right products of our pasts and also these bundles of unfulfilled possibilities. and it’s really beautiful.

and so i’ve been letting my heart get broken by all my flaws and all the flaws of the community i love… but i’m not letting it stop there. i CAN’T save us all from ourselves and i don’t actually want to (well, maybe sort of. i’m struggling with my desire to be a superstarsuperherobestbestbestever person). i accept that (again… sort of. *laughs*). but i can do what i can do. i can learn what i can learn and i can teach what i can teach… and i’m excited and terrified by that.

yes yes yes.

(this just in! the quote is from pema chödrön. it’s actually “you are perfect just the way you are and you could use a little work.” her teacher said it to her.)