June 20, 2010

An impermeable seal

For the past few weeks, I've been reading Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship, a few pages a day.

One of the things that struck me from the first two chapters was that, for the most part, during the time of slavery, American Quakers of European descent were not that different from their non-Quaker American counterparts. Just a handful of individual Quakers, it turns out, were the ones who were taking radical steps to draw attention to the evil and harm of enslaving other human beings. Most Quakers back then had the privilege to "look the other way" or could say they were against slavery but wouldn't necessarily take action that reflected what they professed.

I am also struck by how there are sufferings in the world today--injustices to GLBTQ people, to people of color, to people who live in poverty--and how few Quakers (and non-Quakers) are taking radical steps to draw attention to these injustices.

And I, a person of privilege because of the color of my skin, my education, and my financial status, also have the privilege to look the other way--because the situation is overwhelming, because the situation is "over there," because because because.

. . . . . . . . .

The other day, Jeanne and I began seam-sealing the new tent we got, since the first new tent we just got leaked during the rain we had while camping recently. I'm amazed by how the seam-sealer works: it creates a rubberized, impermeable seal. It reminds me of the yellow slickers that we had as kids...

I've been thinking that in some ways, having the privilege that I have is like having an impermeable seal around me--so impermeable that it keeps God out too. So today I've been particularly grateful for the worship community I'm a part of because somehow, when I'm with them and we are worshiping, the Light of God seems to be able to sear through that otherwise impermeable coating, and I feel like I can take on a bit of what would likely be for me "inconvenient" radical activity.

O God, how I need your help to burn away the seam sealer.


On Being A Quaker - an upcoming presentation

Dear Friends,

This coming Friday, I will present a two-hour session to a Fallsington Friends in Pennsylvania. These Friends had had a discussion earlier this spring about some of what was written in a recent Quaker Life magazine, about "old and new kinds of Quakers. That discussion set off a larger conversation--something I learned about when I participated in the QUIP conference last spring.

Way opened for me to share my own journey around this sort of topic with these Friends. Here's a brief write up of what I'll be focusing on:

On Being A Quaker
Friday evening, June 25, 2010
7:00-9:00 pm.

"Dear Friends, watch over one another in love, and stir up that which is pure in one another, and exhort one another daily." —G. Fox, Epistle 22 [Thanks, Mark!]

Our peculiar faith tradition shifts and morphs over the generations as we listen for God, resist the temptations of secular society, and rediscover the principles of Love, faithfulness, and witness that guided early Friends. This two-hour session will invite us to consider how we as Friends belong to one another and to Quakerism, regardless of how long we have been among Friends.
I'd appreciate prayers for faithful service and staying open to whatever it is that God may give me to share.


June 17, 2010

Spiritual loneliness

I was surprised to see it's been three weeks since I last posted something.... but then again, two out of those three weeks I was traveling.

I attended a Quaker wedding out of state--a trip that included a ferry ride across Lake Michigan--and then a week-long camping trip that turned soggy at the start but ended up with fun fellowship in a cabin "up north."

Now I'm back home, briefly, before I head out again to visit family and do a short presentation on "the old and new kinds of Quakers."

But in-between these recent travels, I've had a bit of malaise settle in my heart. Some of it, I sense, has to do with laying down my participation in Facebook: while the choice has given me time to dedicate to reading Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship, as well as to considering other Quaker-related opportunities, the choice has also separated me from the ongoing exchanges among Quaker and non-Quaker friends.

This spiritual loneliness is something that visits me from time to time.

It settles on my shoulders and in the pit of my stomach when I am away for too long from the community that reflects myself back to me. With my recent and upcoming travels, I've been able to attend my local Meeting for Worship only about twice in eight weeks; and for the first time since 1995, I won't be attending the FGC Gathering this summer.

I chalk up this sense of deep loneliness to my being a twin, that without people around me who can mirror myself back to me, I start to feel a bit lost. Maybe this is a phenomenon that others experience as well; maybe it's part of the human condition. In any event, what's a bit different about the feeling at this time, though, is that I am recognizing it and I am conscientiously doing what I can to tend to my connection with God, despite my less frequent face-to-face connections with people in my own community.

....which reminds me: I've got a few phone calls I said I'd make this morning.

Thanks for reading me.