Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Web

If I had a lot of money, I don't think I would have to do nearly as much discernment. I don't mean to give the wrong impression. I am very grateful for my job and its steady paycheck. It allows me to pay for rent and food, keep up with my student loans, and give a few bucks to my meetings. But it doesn't go far beyond that. I know that compared to the majority of the world, I am quite wealthy, but I don't always feel like it.

Because of my limited income, when I get a leading to travel, I pretty much have to ask for financial support. I don't like doing it, but I think it is really good for me. It forces me to check in with my support and accountability committee and other Friends, giving me a completely different kind of support. They remind me what my ministry is, then ask how this new piece fits, and they help me to discern whether I really do have a leading. If I had money to travel, I would miss all of that.

Last night, I went to a potluck for young adult Friends, sponsored by some lovely older adult Friends. After we all ate and got caught up, one of the questions we discussed was our first memories of Friends meetings. A surprising number of the people there grew up in Quaker homes, so their first memories involved a lot of First Day school and playing with other children.

I said that my first experiences in meetings were both in times of great stress in my life: the first time I went to Freedom Friends Church was during my first semester finals in law school and the first time I went to University Friends Meeting was when I was studying for the bar exam. I said that I didn't remember a whole lot from those first times, but I really appreciated the silence.

Today, I met as a member of a clearness committee for another young Friend who is discerning her leading to travel in the ministry. It was wonderful to be able to hold her in worship after so many people have been doing the same for me. We met outside and I realized after a while that a spider was making a web across my lap.

Then I remembered how when during one of my first visits to Freedom Friends, I was sitting in the silence and praying about exams. As I prayed, I began to see all of the people I love providing a web of support for me. It was a wonderfully comforting image.

Now I see that web again, but in a different light. All of those people are still providing support for me, but they are also connected because of me. Some of them were connected to each other before and I am strengthening those connections. Others are meeting through me. Others will never meet each other, but I am blessed to have them all as my friends.

Maybe this is why it is so difficult for the rich man to get into heaven. If you don't have any money, you are much more aware that you need other people and that you need God. Over the past year, it has become increasingly clear to me that my ministry is in creating and nurturing community. And as I feel called to create community, having to ask for money every once in a while is a good reminder that I need that community too.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I have been back in Seattle for about four days now and I am starting to feel human again. Last weekend was wonderful in so many ways. I loved being a part of Kirsten and Colin's wedding, spending time in the wide open spaces of Alaska, and hanging out with my family. I am also grateful for lively conversations with good friends who love and challenge me. But it is wrenching to see people I love for such short amounts of time and traveling is exhausting.

Every time I open my Bible, I am amazed by how close I am to the end. When I started reading through, it seemed like it would take forever, but I only have about 100 pages to go.

Most recently, I have been reading through Paul's epistles. I never cared much for Paul before. I mostly associated him with rules, especially rules about women. I have been surprised on this reading to find him to be a kindred spirit. He works so hard and cares so much about the people he is writing to, I can't help but feel for him.

I first started sympathizing with Paul at the beginning of Romans when Paul said,
. . . every time I think of you in my prayers, which is practically all the time, I ask him to clear the way for me to come and see you. The longer this waiting goes on, the deeper the ache. I so want to be there to deliver God's gift in person and watch you grow stronger right before my eyes! (Romans 1:10-11)
It is so hard to be far from the ones we love. Of course, if the way had been clear for Paul to visit, he would not have written the letter and I would not be able to read it now.

I have been fortunate to be able to travel and live in many different places, but that also means that every time I go somewhere, I leave people I love behind. And so I too write to those I miss. Not scripture or formal epistles, but emails and cards, chats and text messages, and posts on this blog. You are in my thoughts and prayers and I hope that God will clear the way for me to come and see you soon.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Unknown

Looking forward to the next month, there are so many unknowns. Many things in my life right now are up in the air, including who I will live with, where I will be working, and where I should move next. I know that many of these questions will be resolved within the next few weeks, and that is hard too.

Fortunately, I also have many distractions. Later this week, I will be going up to Anchorage to celebrate with Kirsten and Colin as they make their vows to each other. Immediately afterward, I am going to Salem for a quick visit. I am looking forward to spending time with people I love and with all the traveling I will be doing this summer, I know the time will go very quickly.

It is scary not to know what I will be doing, but it is also a gift. I can see how my life could go in many directions and I know I am fortunate to have options at a time when so many people feel stuck. Although I may not always be able to see the pattern, I trust that God has something in mind.

And for now, I have the lovely distraction of all the beautiful roses that have appeared in my yard. Life is good.