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.

i am currently looking for employment that will start in two weeks, working 46 hours a week, and being around internetty computers much less than usual– so when i’m around computers, they are for craigslist-searching primarily. i of course have much to say, but i’ve been meaning to share these queries with you all for awhile…

Queries – Race and Class – Young Adult Friends Discussion – 6/18/08

•If you feel comfortable and as a way for us to know each other a bit better,
please address race and class issues in you background?

•What is most joyful for you in your discernment on race and class.

•What is most challenging or more aptly might cause you angst, guilt,
avoidance, or other deep emotions?

•Race and class often avoided in the “mainstream culture” but ever present
among us. Please share a situation where you avoided one or both of these
issues and what affect it had on you?

•As a seeker and a Friend, what is your hope for our community as we venture
forth and walk with the Light in seasoning these issues?

they are from a worship sharing for the young adult group at sf meeting that was led by our building manager and generally great guy, steve. there were four of us there, but the sharing that happened was very deep.

sometimes i wonder if my leading is just to engage in scary conversations. they’re hard when you work 46 hours a week. not that you become less brave, but just your mental capacity to translate things from your heart to your brain and out your mouth becomes less. but it’s possible. i should not make excuses. they just have not been happening too much. i’m not too stressed yet. lulls happen. but as i was part of this conversation, i wondered what it would be like in a group where we were not all already friends and we were not all white. the sharing was beautiful to me, but how would it sound to people who have heard all the excuses, self-congratulations, and ignorance of white folks before. if i facilitated something like this and real, reasonable or unreasonable rage came up, how would i handle it? i hope i would be gracious and not smug, not condescending, and able to be the real love that i want to be.

… today, during meeting, i stood up and said, “i love you and i will be transformed.” it was going to be longer i thought, but it wasn’t. i stood for what felt like a very long time before and after.

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.

“Social justice is not a condition. It is an active system of engaging people in ways that support their development and enable them to have power to make positive change in their lives and engage the personal, interpersonal, and institutional entities in their lives in ways that are transforming and meet their basic social and emotional needs and wellness.

Social justice consciousness is an awareness and understanding of our personal and identity politics that compels a person to act as a positive change agent who works toward social justice for their community, their people, others and themselves.”

jeremiah jeffries did a training for the agency i work for– it was a social justice 201 training, and he brought this definition of social justice with him. he said it’s the one that the local organization, teachers for social justice, uses. i really like it. it’s going to be the “text” the social justice discussion group that’s started from that work is going to use for its next discussion.

tomorrow, our meeting’s young adult group is going to discuss service. i’m excited, though, since i am myself, also a little nervous.

this all seems is related.

Published in: on 29 January, 2008 at 6:58 pm  Comments (1)  

yesterday, i had this deep conversation about peace and war and how war is so much easier to do than peace, but that peace is so much more worth it. growing up, i always wondered “can’t we all just get along”? and the older i get along, the more i recognize the difficulty in that, and how rewarding facing the challenge is. and how our current power structure works around oppression via war– the rich and powerful sending the oppressed out to fight those they wish to oppress. and how rewarding that is for the powerful and rich. and how hard it is to have hope living in that sort of power structure. we talked about utopian communities vs. making small changes but still being complicit in so many ways and the pros and cons of buying local food.

anyway… this came to me again on the bart to meeting and then again at meeting. i had this message about this difficulty and how meeting is a place to find inner peace to take into the meeting community to practice our peace skills for the broader world. i felt the familiar tingly feeling i’ve come to recognize as a nudge to speak. i took a deep breath and…

someone else stood. and said something very similar to what i’d been contemplating. and right behind me, i heard someone whisper something, and i whirled around and glared. except that i hardly faced them, couldn’t see, and whirled back immediately. which was SO RIDICULOUS! and so i started to sit there and beat myself up about it, which was also ridiculous.

i sat for awhile longer, facing my anger and my guilt and my pride and my frustration, and then i felt something deeper than before, and i stood and gave vocal ministry… in the second person! it was about that experience and ended with “and the message you were going to say is that peace is really difficult. and now you know it.”


other things:

* i’m feeling less cranky about my young adultness. i had some really enriching conversations with other young adults today which really helped me have patience with myself and remember some of the things to not be cranky about.

* i’ve been in a cranky-ish place in general. it always seems like when i am in a place of idealistic understanding of my place in the world, my patience with everybody is slimmer than usual.

* i’ve been testing a leading around a beyond diversity 101 training for trainers done by niyonu spann. i think i’m supposed to go, and i’ve talked to a few people about it, and am currently in contact with our ministry and oversight committee about some sort of group to help me test the leading and support me through the experience. once again, i’m just so full of gratitude at the support and love i get from these people. i feel like such a squeaky wheel, but people don’t seem to be covering their ears. it’s so good. thank you thank you thank you.

yesterday was one of the first times in a really long time that i nearly had an anxiety attack. it was wet and nothing was going right and i was soaked and had just gotten to work and was dropping a bunch of things and i was late because i had to run an errand for another coworker so i wasn’t getting completely informed about the change in the day’s schedule and i started stuttering and my throat got all tight.

and it’s funny when you realize that the reason you’ve felt so serene lately actually has less to do with personal growth than with your life just being more serene lately. and the way that cracks when things start to crack.


i had my second clearness committee for membership this past week, and it went a whole lot better. it did feel deeper in ways i don’t know how to describe, and i just felt more settled in my decision.

robin asked me if maybe i’d been experiencing buyer’s remorse. i’ve been thinking about that, and i still think the answer is no. for me, whenever i’ve experienced actual buyer’s remorse, it’s been a case of “okay, why did i just spend x amount of scarce resources on this? what was i thinking?” and what happened, i don’t think was about scarcity or a mistake in that sort of way.

i think if i was going to turn it into a shopping analogy, it would be more like looking through ads for computers. and they each have their list of specifications. and a lot of them are like “CHOCK FULL OF THIS ONE FEATURE!” and being like, “um… i’m not totally sure if my computer needs that one feature…” and deciding on one that does have that feature, but it’s not so much in the advertising. and so then, i spend a year studying this computer and learning more about it and also that one feature. and realizing that i kind of like that one feature and how it works with that particular computer. and so then, i’m standing at the counter with my money ready to buy this actual computer, and suddenly i remember that i’m okay with that one feature, and i’ve just spent all my energy studying this one computer and now that i’m okay with this feature, should i go back and delve into those other computers?

(the feature being christianity.)


the other thing is that thanks to allison, we’re working on starting a young adult group for our meeting. and i’m excited about it in theory, but a little freaked out about it in practice. a lot because i’ve really treasured having quakerism be a place in my life to have grown-up friends. and a lot because somehow because of being part of the meeting for a little over a year now, i’m a sort of resident expert, and i am really really not. there was a moment in my clearness committee where i was asked about helping to clarify other young people’s questions about quakerism, and i’m not sure if i’m up for the task. both because i’m not sure if i can do it (i told someone today that it’s like the near-sighted person without their glasses leading the blind), and because i’m not sure if i can do it gracefully. lately i’ve been feeling like a crotchety old man in general, and i guess this is just how i get to learn how to be my own age, and accept my own age, and accept people who are going through things i’m going through, rather than just hanging out with amazing role models. because my peers can be role models, too.


the last thing is that i have access to the old site again, so i‘m going to be putting up the old posts. so there will be some new things coming up, but i will be backdating them so they will hopefully be put in correct chronological order. put up all the old posts. i even managed to get the old comments in there, but all as one big block comment from me. but with credit to the names of the people who posted them.