Tuesday, April 24, 2012

On the Becoming of a Quaker

A meaningful conversation with a Friend over the weekend has confirmed for me that perhaps, yes, I am a Quaker. It was her fire and anger that showed me the way to move into this identity more fully, to know that Friends can handle and need that fire in their meetings, in their processes, in and among them like so much kindling. By hearing of her anger at injustice among Friends, her visiting another faith in hopes of more integrity, something just sunk in that a mentor shared with me 13 years ago. We were discussing whether or not I could, as a christian, be part of the Unitarian Universalist church. She said, "Deciding on a denomination is about deciding where you want to struggle, because no religious home is ideal." 

Friends speak of an Inner Light, but until I saw the fire of my Friend's anger, I did not believe that the light could be a fire. I'm not sure why it was her anger and expression of betrayal that got me, but it did. You might think that contradictory, but the truth is that I knew, even with her rage and seeking to move faiths, that this Friend is truly a Quaker, truly fired by the Spirit, in a way that I had not seen, had not let myself feel so keenly. 

With this knowledge, I am sitting with the diversity of the gifts of the Spirit, and how to best hold the possibilities. Last night, in gathered worship around the words of Walt Whitman, the refrain from the film Fame would not stop playing in my head-- I Sing the Body Electric, I celebrate the Me yet to come, I toast to my own reunion, when I become one with the sun! And we look back on Venus, we look back on Mars, and we burn with the fire of ten million stars, and in time, and in time, we will all be stars. 

Sometimes it feels like holding the Spirit's working in my life risks the explosion of the celestial. Sometimes it feels like chalk in my mouth. Sometimes it feels like thick sludge. But regardless of the felt sense, whatever this templebody is telling me, the Sprit is always there-- nameless, named, infinite and specific. This journey to Friends and the felt sense of the fire of Spirit is a long one, and I am grateful that I am taking one more step towards the home where, and the people with whom, I can struggle. 


  1. A clean-burning flame wouldn't shine as bright?
    Good to see yet another brave person leaping into the blog habit.... would like to see you playing on my (Bible) site as well (but my efforts at enticing people over there, well... Perhaps this time may work?)
    I get very disappointed at my own Meeting-- & then when I give them Heck ('Hell with Muzak') it seems to help, for awhile. Who knows how long I'll feel responsible for pulling them in a direction they seem most afraid of? But yes, the Spirit really does love you, and them, and me, in whatever angst & inadequacies we happen to be wallowing in at the time. We can tell ourselves, and know, that we are truly God's children-- but when I realize this, as I did last night (realize in the sense of being able to trust God, not just know that God is reliable but that I was in fact being helped to rely...) it's a whole different feeling.

  2. Walt Whitman hits me like an arrow through the heart and I love what you quoted. Thank you. Anger. Tell your friend to be careful. I speak as one who knows of its destructive power. Disappointment in people kept me away from churches and organized religion of any sort for most of my life. Finally, I figured out that imperfect people are in the nature of the human condition. It's part of the deal. I think we do well when we focus on our own relationship with God and less on others and what's wrong about what they're doing or not doing. Anyway, that's what worked for me. Thank you for sharing.