Saturday, November 22, 2008

Three Little Hats

A couple at University Friends Meeting is expecting triplets in January, so we had a secondhand baby shower for them after meeting last week. I think Friends cleaned out most of the baby consignment stores in Seattle!

I made three little hats for the occasion.

They weren't technically secondhand, but I did already have the yarn, so I figured that was close enough. I really liked the way they turned out and I think my cats did too!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

With Love

For someone who claims to be a writer, I sometimes have the hardest time getting writing projects together. My friend Sarah H is on the editorial board for the Quaker Youth Book Project, so I have known about that project for quite some time now. I assured Sarah when I saw her in July that I was planning to submit some writing, but now it's November and I am still trying to decide what to submit.

Most of my Quaker-related writing has been for this blog, so I thought a good place to start would be with some posts that I particularly liked. A few months ago, I created a special "Quaker Youth Book Project" folder on my computer and put a few files in there. Then I ignored them.

Earlier this week, I finally printed out a few of the posts and sat down to edit them. I thought it would be nice to put two posts together, contrasting Freedom Friends Church and University Friends Meeting. But when I got to the piece I had written about University Friends, I felt like I was crossing out more than I was leaving. So much has changed since I wrote it.

I had written all about how I felt like no one knew who I was at University Friends, how unwelcoming they were to young adults, and how I felt that sometimes Friends were doing more editing than listening. This simply has not been my experience at University Friends lately.

A Friend who helped to found our Young Adult Friend group recently visited meeting for worship after a long absence. After meeting she asked, "when did the YAF population at the meeting explode?" It's true. A few weeks ago, I counted ten Friends between the ages of 18 and 35 at meeting, and none of them were there for the first time. Most weeks, we have young visitors and many of them visit repeatedly.

In this Year of Discernment, University Friends Meeting is trying to answer two questions: Who are we as a community? and What are we called to do? When I first started working with the other members of the Steering Committee, I didn't feel like the "we" in those questions applied to me. I was a member of another meeting, and I felt like my role in the process of discernment was to provide an outsider perspective.

This has changed too. Even before I formally became a sojourning member of University Friends Meeting, I began to realize that this was my community too. I have been honored and a little embarrased by the warm welcome I have received from so many members of the meeting. They have given me so many gifts and I feel grateful to have them as friends as well as Friends.

A message from meeting on Sunday has stayed with me through the week. A Friend said that he was struggling with what he was called to do and mentioned, almost as an aside, that he was called to love. This rang true to me. We are called to love. In fact, we are commanded to love God and to love our neighbor.

Today, it occurred to me that this message provides one answer to the questions that University Friends is asking. Who are we as a community? Friends. What are we called to do? Love. I know that there is still a lot of work to do and I doubt that University Friends will be able to simplify in the way that some hope by the end of this Year of Discernment. But if we can do all of the things we are doing with love, maybe that will be enough.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Visiting Friends

As everyone around me began to sing at North Seattle Friends Church, I suddenly realized how fragile I felt. I listened to the songs that I knew from my childhood, on the verge of tears. It was strange to hear such familiar music in a Quaker context and I felt pretty disoriented.

The day before, I had my first experience clerking and it did not go well. A variety of factors contributed to a difficult and frustrating committee meeting, and as the numbness after the meeting wore off, I felt extremely vulnerable.

After singing, North Seattle Friends shared God stories, expressing the ways that God is working in their lives. When I am feeling fragile, I am like a sponge for others' sorrow, and the stories about tragedies, both that had occurred or were averted, were hard for me to hear. At the same time, the stories reminded me of how we ask God for help at the beginning of worship at Freedom Friends Church, and that made me feel better.

I couldn't believe it had taken me this long to visit North Seattle Friends Church. When I moved to Seattle, Peggy sent emails of introduction along with me to University Friends Meeting and North Seattle Friends Church, suggesting that I visit both meetings and decide which was a better fit for me. Between studying for the bar exam and sparse Sunday bus schedules, I never quite got around to visiting North Seattle Friends Church.

So there I was, a year and a half late, struggling to hold back tears.

In her message, the pastor asked Friends to share how they experience leadings and what God's nudges feel like to them. This message was especially poignant for me because I was sitting next to Sarah P, who was visiting the meeting with me, and who probably would not be a friend of mine if I had not followed clear leadings.

I met Sarah at the Quaker Women's Theology Conference and we are now friends because God told me that we were both supposed to be on the epistle committee. I was sure that she was going to think I was crazy when I walked up to her, practically a stranger, and said, "I feel led to be on the epistle committee, and I feel led to tell you that you should be too." Instead, she thought for a minute and then nodded. And I am pretty sure that our work together on that committee made us feel that we could accept the responsibility of co-clerking the next conference.

After worship ended, I surrendered to tears. I cried because I was tired and disappointed, because the meeting had been hard, and because I had space to let go. A woman that I did not know sat with me and held my hand. Without asking what was wrong, she prayed for me, that God would help me get through whatever was going on in my life. It felt good.

I am still trying to work through my conflicting feelings about the committee meeting, but I also feel so grateful for all of the support I have had in the past few days. In addition to the Friend who prayed for me, I have received phone calls and emails from friends, family, mentors, and elders, letting me know that they are here to help. I also learned that my sojourning membership with University Friends Meeting was accepted, and I am especially grateful to be under the care of the meeting.

I know that there will be difficult times ahead, but I also know that God is with me. I pray that I can continue to pay attention and follow when I feel God leading.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Give Peace a Chance

My brother James and my sister Lael are both off on adventures, travelling through the United States. I can't say I'm not jealous, but it is fun to live vicariously through their stories and pictures. This picture of James's latest stop made me laugh. He looks like such a flower child and his hair is very impressive.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Eve

My ballot went out with the mail this morning, so I don't have a lot left to do but wait. It feels like everyone is holding their breath today. No matter what the outcome, I know that some people I love will be elated and other people I love will be disappointed. So my prayer for all of us is that regardless of what happens tomorrow, these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinth. 13:13).