May 14, 2006

Excerpt on being meek

After nearly two weeks of not being able to speak--not even a whisper--my voice is finally returning.

Bit by bit.

Some fFriends have asked me what the lesson has been in having to be silent for so long, a question I myself have been holding. Usually my body has some inward knowledge for me to heed, but this time, like my voice itself, it has been silent.

What I can offer, though, is how I feel like I have lost two week of my life: I seem to have little memory of how I spent those 10-12 days. How did I pass the time? What was I working on before the laryngitis struck? Who did I interact with?

It's all very strange, but one thing is for sure: I'm glad I'm coming 'round again!

In the meantime, I have decided to lift up an excerpt from one of the "confessions" posts, which focuses on questions I have about being meek and humble.

I'm highlighting this excerpt for selfish reasons: I keep thinking I have a post about being meek, only to rediscover that it is a part of a longer post.

Who knows? Maybe the laryngitis was in answer to my question about knowing what it is like to be humble. I certainly had to do a lot more listening and keep many of my own ideas and responses to myself.

But I wouldn't say that I felt meek in the process as much as I felt frustrated.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Lacking humility and meekness is [one of the] hardest [things] for me to articulate, and it is something I have become aware of only because the phrase is repeated so frequently in the writings of Samuel Bownas.

Before reading Bownas, I had understood that being faithful meant putting myself aside and waiting to feel and know inwardly the leading and guidance of the Divine. But after reading Bownas, there seems to be something more than that, something that I have been missing within myself that can best be expressed as this element of meekness.

Not a doormat meekness, and not a low self-esteem meekness, but something else: a not-needing-to-insert-myself-into-every-conversation-about-Quakerism meekness.

I think about the Friends for whom I have "hero worship." They seem to have an element of this meekness. One of them has light-heartedly presented her knowledge of Scripture to me as "this isn't exactly what the Bible says but..." and then has gone on to give a very paraphrased version of the passage, almost like describing a scene that could have occurred on a TV drama or sitcom. In this way, she was the first Friend who made Scripture accessible and non-threatening to me.

Another Friend presents his meekness to me by sharing parts of his life that are well outside the realm of the Religious Society of Friends. I have been caught completely off-guard when he has told me about a certain rock band he's fond of and about his (near?) devotion to baseball.

And a third Friend who recently passed away, well, she was meek in how she approached you if she was dissatisfied with something that was said or if she was confused by a turn of events that left her feeling cast aside. She led with her concern rather than her anger; she brought forward questions rather than chastisement.

I had thought I had learned something from each of these Friends, but perhaps the learning needs to sink more deeply into my heart and soul. In difficult situations, I know I seek to do the right thing right, but by acknowledging that practice, am I letting myself off the hook from considering how to be "slow to speak and ready to hear and receive instruction"? (Bownas, p. 22)

When I look at the examples of Friends who I consider meek or low, I wonder if maybe being meek also has to do with letting others see more into our non-Quaker lives. Not just our struggles and crises, but our diversions and pleasures.

Do I do enough of that sort of sharing, or do I write it off as being too "chit-chatty"? What's the balance to be struck over a potluck meal that follows Meeting for Worship: do we talk about the Presence of God within the meeting and in our lives, or do we talk about how we fill our time when we are not doing Quaker things?

And in my case, where much of my time is dedicated to Quaker pursuits, then what?

Blech. It leaves a heaviness in my heart to acknowledge these things, to confess these things.


Reminder: This excerpt can be found in the original post on confessions, part II.

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