Watching the first QVS volunteers arrive to the house in August…
Growing faith in our abilities to cope with and thrive in new settings –
Home could be here – or anywhere.
If you ask, they will be there…
Balancing strong and gentle is an ongoing process.
Remembering to love helps.
Feeling stressed isn’t just about not having time.
It can be hard to find 10 minutes a day to pray.
Large gatherings of different people in sunny parks
And the scents of treats outside amongst the building of friendship
A penny for you and one for me,
Put it on the railroad tracks
Then in the Boo Radley Tree!
Sitting around the fire at Dean and Christina’s Atlanta reception,
Talking and watching the fire
And bonding with Dean.
Sitting on the blue denim couch,
Talk about Quaker History.
Greater clarity on the things I’m seeking –
Clarity from both presence and absence
Making the mod-podge chore wheel
There is a balance between obedience and efficiency
Lasting community, that understands the full me.
Spiritual journey sharing
And that time I was almost hit by a car
There is an oft used and important time and space to talk,
And there is a harder to find but equally important time to listen.
Two people crying on my couch
So many tears, swollen up with love
Moments and stories of people who find their passion.
The people you live with fill your house with warmth and joy.
A tolerance for ambiguity
When surprise magic happens
The future being better than we expect it will be…
At our retreat in February, the volunteers, Christina, and Erica wrote this collaborative poem.
God beneath you,
God in front of you,
God behind you,
God above you,
God within you.
Recently a few of our QVS cohort attended a Fund for Theological Education conference about exploring vocation. We all had different experiences I’m sure, so I’ll just tell you a little about mine. I was pretty wigged out arriving, honestly. It was hosted out of a fancy hotel and I felt out of place. I also felt like a bit of an impostor. Do I have to pretend to be confident about my faith to be here? Will they judge me when they find out my god doesn’t look like their God?
We began each morning and ended every night with prayer which was nourishing even when the structure was different from my familiar silent worship. I chose to take workshops on The Theology of Howard Thurman, the L’Arche Community Learning Vulnerability as a Way of Life, and Love Conquering Borders with the Alterna community. They were awesome. I also attend a panel discussion on Seminary and visited Mercy Community Church, which were both well timed adventures for me. Keynote speakers included Anton Flores-Maisonet about breaking cycles of violence, Leroy Barber about what we can learn from slave spirituals, Dr. Anna Carter Florence about teaching others to preach. Aspects of each of their stories spoke directly to me.
Some gems for me from the conference:
-The notion that boundaries need not be stagnant, that they can be fluid and used as a spiritual contemplative practice.
-Speaking to my living situation this year, that idea we as humans begin in community. That even before we experience a sense of self, we experience community.
-I was struck by Thurman’s affirmation of doubt as faithful, of asking as a way of praying.
-And also by the different ways that each of the presenters chose to meld their work and home life in a vocation of the heart.
None of us are finished ever. We are each constantly being shaped and transformed. The conference re-inspired in me a sense of following the divine, of learning to trust, of knowing that doesn’t mean I have to stop asking questions, and of loving my community for what it is. For that, I am grateful.
For my work here in Atlanta I am co-planning and co-facilitating a Community Transformation Training based on the methodology of Paulo Frerie, Brazilian educator and social organizer. Freireian methodology is about people connecting to their own emotions and using them as a vehicle for action. To that end, one of the first things we do with people is put them in small groups and ask them what they are worried about, what they are happy about, what they are sad, angry, and hopeful about. From those answers we listen, and we ask everyone to listen, to threads that run through many of their emotions as a group. It’s not all that different from listening for the sense of the meeting, and involves discerning what comes out of people’s hearts and what pieces are narrative from the mind only. Similar to listening through a popcorn meeting for the ministry that is stirring. Listening, no matter what vocabulary is put on it, is a powerful tool for human connection, which can lead to change making in the world. No matter what the generative theme (Freire’s words) of a group is, identifying it is the beginning of being able to identify useful and motivated action steps. So I ask you: What are you worried about? What are you happy about? Sad, angry, hopeful about? What would it be like if you talked to people about emotions and found that a group all had a thread running through their lives?
This morning a group of us sat around the kitchen and living room talking about what we want for our personal Bibles: translations, covers, red letter or not. Some of us have independently started reading the Bible and are exploring how we carry it in our lives. We found the following link helpful as a starting point for examining differences in translations: Translation Comparison Chart