Sunday, September 30, 2007

Discovering That My Place is Right/Here

I've sorta begun to look for a new job. Sorta. I'm still working on the latest social research project and still liking it. In many ways this job is terrific and a great fit for me. There is a great deal of variety in this job so it's never boring. I get to meet all kinds of people and learn about their lives. There's just enough administrative work that I'm forced to stay organized. I get to work at my own pace, play on my personality strengths and improve my weaknesses. I'm trusted to do my job without much supervision. I set my own hours and work when I want to. I always learn a lot when on each project. But...I'm really tired of the constant inability to schedule more than a week or two in advance. I never know if I'll be working in a month, let alone 3 months. At the beginning of a project I work 40 hours a week for the first several weeks and that dwindles down to many weeks of 10 hours at the end (and we never know exactly when the end of project will happen). When a project ends, I never know how long it will be until the next one will start; could be a month, could be 6 or more. This job is wonderful but completely unreliable.

So, I've tentatively begun looking for something else.

I am looking for something in the non-profit sector. I want to do good work-"right livelihood". I really enjoyed the job I had as volunteer coordinator working with families of prisoners several years ago. Unfortunately, even in non-profits, a degree seems to have become required. Used to be that not-for-profits had a lot of flexibility and would look at a person's experiences and enthusiasm but that seems to have changed over the last few years. Now, the job listings all state the minimum requirement as a Bachelor's degree. It's frustrating to me that I can't qualify for a job that my skills, personality and experiences make me perfect for because I don't have a degree. I wonder if I should go to school to get a degree but I don't feel called to a particular direction or vocation and I get bored too easily to spend the time and money to get a degree arbitrarily.

I've written before about my longing to be "called" by God. I yearn to have a clear understanding of the direction I should head and I'd love to know that I'm doing the work God wants me to do.

I sent my resume and a cover letter to a Baptist women's job training organization about a position as "satellite coordinator" last week. Before I wrote, I thought long and hard about whether I would be able to work with a bunch of fundamentalist Christian women. The agency sounds like a good one and I like what I've seen of the work they do. I believe in their mission statement: "Being Christ in our community". I think I've matured to the point of being able to work with others who believe differently from myself without getting all offended and offensive. On Friday, the director called to do a pre-interview. She asked me about my spiritual beliefs. She was enthusiastic about my being Quaker because she and her husband had done a Marriage Enrichment early in their marriage with a "wonderful" Quaker couple. She asked if I would be comfortable praying with the clients. I answered honestly that I pray in silence and would be comfortable doing so with others, speaking only when lead by the Spirit to speak. She responded positively that my answer is in keeping with the agency's goals of letting the clients lead the relationship. Unfortunately, I had to decline the job because it is in another county and I'm still car-free and couldn't get there.

Today was Meeting for Worship. As I was leaving, I stopped one of my GIL companions to see if she and her son would be attending the NFM Fall Retreat. As we were talking, she began telling me about a situation causing her worry, sadness and stress. I was able to offer some suggestions which she seemed to find helpful. Then, another person approached to suggest that I get in touch with some of the members of one of the other nurturing groups to see if they would like me to facilitate their next meeting to help them establish their focus, which I will and am happy to do.

I have been fretting about work and jobs and my place in the world a great deal lately. I feel frustrated that I still, at age 42, don't know what I'm going to do when I grow up. I have a low boredom threshold and can't see doing any one job for the rest of my life (or really more than a few years, truth be told). I sometimes think there is something wrong with me that I can't knuckle down and just commit to something like all the other adults in my life did decades ago.

But today, on my way home from Meeting, I had a little calming of my soul. I had the glimmer that I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. I had the insight that God is working through me in my everyday life. I don't have to make a big, dynamic commitment to a career in order to be called. I am able to have the time and energy to organize Growing In the Light because I'm not committed to a career. I am helping others on their spiritual path and I am learning and growing so much in the process. God is using me. I am being supported and nurtured and loved by my community and by God through my community. For some time I've felt that everything I've done and learned and studied and experienced will one day add up to something which I can use in the service of God. I trust that when I am ready, my path will lead me there. Today, I am thankful that I am able to give to this beautiful community something of value and that I am nurtured by it, in return.

Friday, September 28, 2007

There is a Balm in Gil

Last night was the first meeting of the small nurturing group of which I am a part from the Growing In the Light spiritual formation group of Nashville Friends Meeting. We have 5 people in our group. We met from 7-9:30 at the meetinghouse. It was wonderful. We all enjoyed it so much that we decided that we don't want to wait a full month to meet again so we're getting together October 8th.

As this was our first meeting, we talked a little about the general outline of the meeting and how it would unfold. We started with a few minutes of silence and then I (as the initial facilitator) read a query about where we are in our individual lives and where God is. At that point, some folks spent a little time writing out their commitment to the group and others sat in silent worship.

After letting folks have about 10 minutes to write, I suggested that we center into silence and then asked if anyone wanted to speak first. We then took turns being the focus of the group. The person who's turn it was would talk about their response to the query, their spiritual "history" or whatever else they felt moved to say for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes I would gently suggest that the person allow the group to respond out of silence. As the person was speaking, we participated in active listening and when we spoke out of the silence, we continued to focus on the person, asking questions or repeating back things that we heard which seemed deep, heavy or important. At the end of the second 10 minutes I would ask the group to hold the individual in the Light for a moment and then move to the next person.

At the end of the speaking, we all went around and read our commitments to the group out loud. Some were more elaborate and detailed, some were basic and 'too the point' but they all said how we will make our group a priority and keep what is said in the group confidential.

We then decided on our next meeting. During this discussion, I said that I would like a name for our group so I can refer to it as something. Someone suggested "Gill" (don't know why that name) and I immediately thought "There is a balm in Gill (ead)". It works for me, so I'm thinking of our group as Gill. Or maybe Growing In Light=Gil. Yup, I bet that's it.

I said that we need a closing ritual and one person suggested a song and so we stood together in a circle holding hands and singing a round. I think we were all moved to be part of something so intimate and loving. We're all in a place in which we are willing to open ourselves up to the loving scrutiny of others so we can each grow and develop in God's light. This is a frightening and exhilarating moment. I feel well loved and supported and I'm very thankful to have this group of people to support me on this journey into the unknown.

There is a balm in Gilead,
to make the wounded whole,
there is a balm in Gilead,
to heal the sinsick soul.

Sometimes I feel discouraged,
and think my work's in vain,
but then the Holy Spirit
revives my soul again. Refrain

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Who Am I?

I have certainly gotten myself into a pickle. Last week I lost my wallet. I've turned the house and car upside-down looking for it and have come to the conclusion that it must have fallen out of my purse at the grocery store. The only things I had in it were my drivers license and around $20-no big deal as I don't carry any plastic cards with me. Yesterday, I was going to go downtown to replace my license. I looked on-line to learn what documents I would need: Birth certificate and social security cards-great! I knew just where they were. Except...they weren't there! I remember taking them with me to my last work project training in May but I must not have returned them to our fire-safe box when I returned home and now I have no idea where I mislaid them! I've searched my desk and file cabinet, book cases and piles of paperwork. I've been looking through books and magazines I may have been reading in May. So far, nothing. I don't know if I can get any of these documents replaced without some of these documents already in possession. And the cost! And the time!

And now, work calls me. I have an interview in a few minutes-a very wealthy man on the East coast. Seems nice. Should be long (I think he owns a bunch of businesses) but I'm guessing he'll be one of those people with all the numbers in his head at the ready.
I wish I were a little more that way. This distraction is driving me to distraction!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hymns to the Silence

So, I committed myself to prayer for part of my spiritual discipline. Why? I guess I thought that making it routine would give the practice depth. But with this chihuahua brain, the only thing I get is frustration. I know that God is and I love God for that reason but I find that I'm usually not able to be aware of God unless I do something to make myself be aware. And the thing with my brain is that anything I do that is outside of ordinary becomes ordinary within a very short time (that's one reason my house is always in chaos; after seeing something out of the corner of my eye once or twice and not attending to it, it becomes "normal" to me. Crooked pictures on the walls, "sock bombs", piles of books all become part of normal almost immediately and then I stop seeing them at all).

Music is one thing that I do to bring myself to awareness of God. Unfortunately, because I spend most of my time working at home, with my children, I'm not able to play my music often. When I put something on that I care to hear, the kids all complain and then they want to play their music, which raises my blood pressure (double kick drums could be used as an instrument of torture on the middle aged. Heavy metal, particularly the Swedish "death metal" that my oldest listens to is created to evoke images quite the opposite of the Divine). I do have the refrain from the Van Morrison song, "when will I ever learn to live in God, when will I ever learn? (s)He gives me everything I need and more, when will I ever learn?" almost all the time in my head, like a mantra or a prayer.

My ex-husband, the guy that brought me to Nashville, was a musician and music journalist. He wrote newspaper and magazine articles about music and wrote a lot of bios for artists. He interviewed bunches of artists and entertainers "back in the day" (20 years ago). I used to go with him to the interviews. I've never been starstruck. I was young and a little shy back when we were together, so I didn't really have much to say to most of the the people he met. There were a few people he interviewed who were really nice (Nicolette Larson and Bela Fleck stand out in my mind) but most were just folks doing their jobs, not wanting to do anything above and beyond and I respected that and left them alone.
Living in Nashville one bumps into all kinds of well-known people in restaurants, book stores or around. Even when I see artists who's work I really like, I don't have anything to say. I mean really, what could I say that they haven't heard fifty-million times before? I just smile the way I would at anyone I vaguely recognize and leave them alone.

I feel differently about Van Morrison. I feel like he's one of my mentors, in a way; an "anam cara" for those who know about soul friends. His body of music speaks to me in a deeper place than most songwriters. His quest is spiritual and he writes from his truth. His songs help to guide me, sometimes awakening me to greater awareness than I've found on my own.
Hammy and I have discussed what we would say to Van if we met him. Used to be that we both agreed that we could not possibly say anything to him that he would care about hearing. Lately though, I've had the sense that I am ready to meet him. I could tell him about how I listened to "Poetic Champions Compose" in a desert in the middle of a beautiful velvet-black night when the bus I was riding on broke down and how the music fit the lonely, excited, scared and contented feeling in my soul. But I don't think he would care about that. I think what I would ask him is if he had ever been to a Quaker Meeting and what he thought about it.
Does this sound crazy? I've never been a "fan" of anyone (well, since I outgrew my crushes on Donny Osmond and Michael Jackson back in 1973). I'm pretty embarrassed to be saying all of this in a public forum but this is where I am. I am sorta of the belief that one has to "voice" one's intentions in order to open oneself to the possibility, so that's what I'm doing. Van Morrison has taught me some wonderful things and, if nothing else, I'm writing this as a way to say "thanks" for what I've learned.
What does any of this have to do with prayer? I'm not sure other than some of Van's songs being hymns for me. And so we'll end with this "Hymns to the Silence."
Oh my dear,
oh my dear sweet love
Oh my dear, oh my dear sweet love
When I'm away from you,
when I'm away from you
Well I feel, yeah, well I feel so sad and blue
Well I feel, well I feel so sad and blue
Oh my dear, oh my dear, oh my dear sweet love
When I'm away from you, I just have to sing, my hymns
Hymns to the silence, hymns to the silence
Hymns to the silence, hymns to the silence
Oh my dear, oh my dear sweet love
it's a long, long journey
Long, long journey, journey back home
Back home to you, feel you by my side
Long journey, journey, journey
Yeah in the midnight, in the midnight, I burn the candle
Burn the candle at both ends, burn the candle at both ends
Burn the candle at both ends, burn the candle at both ends
And I keep on, 'cause I can't sleep at night
Until the daylight comes through
And I just, and I just, have to sing
Sing my hymns to the silence
Hymns to the silence, hymns to the silence
My hymns to the silence
I wanna go out in the countryside
Oh sit by the clear, cool, crystal water
Get my spirit, way back to the feeling
Deep in my soul, I wanna feel
Oh so close to the One, close to the One
Close to the One, close to the One
And that's why, I keep on singing baby
My hymns to the silence, hymns to the silence
Oh my hymns to the silence, hymns to the silence
Oh hymns to the silence, oh hymns to the silence
Oh hymns to the silence, hymns to the silence
Oh my dear, my dear sweet love
Can you feel the silence? can you feel the silence?
Can you feel the silence? can you feel the silence?
Hymns to the silence, hymns to the silence
Hymns to the silence, hymns to the silence
Hymns to the silence, hymns to the silence
Hymns to the silence, hymns to the silence

Friday, September 21, 2007

We Are Dancing

traditional, additional lyrics by Pete Seeger

We are climbing Jacob's ladder
We are climbing Jacob's ladder
We are climbing Jacob's ladder
Brothers, sisters, all

Every rung goes higher and higher
Every rung goes higher and higher
Every rung goes higher and higher
Brothers, sisters, all

We are dancing Sarah's circle
We are dancing Sarah's circle
We are dancing Sarah's circle
Sisters, brothers, all
Every round a generation
Every round a generation
Every round a generation
Sisters, brothers, all

We are climbing Jacob's ladder
We are climbing Jacob's ladder
We are climbing Jacob's ladder
Brothers, sisters, all

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Teen Retreat

I've been wanting to write about my experiences of the past weekend but several things-work, time, but especially the desire to accurately represent the retreat without hyperbole have inhibited me.

I am not exaggerating when I say that the SAYF retreat was one of the most moving experiences of my life. I am awed by the respect, love and true acceptance the people at SAYF show for one another. There were around 35 teens and 7 or 8 FAPs (Friendly Adult Presence) including myself and two young adult FAPs-in-training. Several of the teens have been in SAYF for years, many for a year or two and there were a couple of newcomers. Over the course of the weekend I never sensed cliquishness or exclusion of anyone. The teens seemed to go out of their way to create opportunities for everyone to feel welcomed and included.

The teens planned, organized and led all the activities. The one that had the greatest impact on me was one in which the main room was divided into thirds: The middle was "I don't know or I'm not sure", the right side was "No" and the left, "Yes". The leader (a young man named Austin) stood on a chair and asked questions. They began with generic things like, "Have you ever been skiing?" and became more personal as the "game" proceeded. Austin would ask different people if they wanted to share why they feel about the question like they do, or people would hold up their hands to answer. "Is killing someone ever justified"? "Do you believe in God"? "Do you call yourself a Christian"? All were questions asked. What almost amazed me was the honesty, thoughtfulness and lack of judgment in the answers. There were even a couple of people who seemed to disagree about their beliefs but they were very open and respectful of one another.

I guess because all I have to compare this with are the youth group meetings of my own Baptist youth is why I'm so touched by the support and honesty. Self-censoring of honest answers were par for the course for me; we had to keep with the "party line" or we were "sinners". Once, in a discussion about abortion, I made the mistake of saying that if I got pregnant out of "wedlock" I would consider having an abortion. I answered honestly and tried to explain that the reason I felt that way was because of the way girls who got pregnant were judged so harshly and treated badly and I wouldn't want to subject myself to that but my peers and leader didn't want to hear my reasons.

Anyway, the physical affection the kids give to one another is really beautiful. "Puppy piles" of cuddly bodies are everywhere. Boys (almost men) hug boys and girls and gender or sexual orientation seem to be almost irrelevant. There were two couples paired up. One of the couples stayed physically close to one another but respected the boundaries and "rules" of proper conduct. The other couple pushed the boundaries but were gently "nurtured" (the teen version of eldering). It seems that teen sexuality is such a normal and accepted thing that it's completely acknowledged, honored and somewhat harnessed into group compassion. It seemed a very healthy environment, to me.

I kept thinking that it would be wonderful if we adults would be a little less inhibited with one another when we have our meetings. The teens really know how to show love to one another. I think we adults have lost that.

Oh, and the other thing that moved me was the lack of "Posturing". I didn't observe any "alpha male" chest pounding or "catty-girl" manipulations the whole weekend. The guys all supported one another and built each other up. The girls didn't seem competitive with one another. Maybe because of the lack of negative sexual dynamic, the kids all seem to respect one another and themselves.

The theme for the weekend was "Community" and we talked about the best thing about community. Several of the kids said that SAYF is the only time they feel truly accepted and able to be themselves. I'm so glad SAYF is. I feel honored to have been able to be a part of it. I don't know if my son just hated me being there but I'd be really happy to be able to go again. If I can or if I can't, I'm grateful to have had at least one opportunity to spend time in that safe, SAYF environment.

(and now to work. I have 2 interviews scheduled and about 10 phone calls I have to make today...)

Friday, September 14, 2007

On My Way Out, Again...

I've been recruited to drive the Nashville Friends Meeting youth group to the SAYF retreat in Knoxville this weekend. I'll be leaving in an hour or so to meet people at the Meetinghouse and leaving from there. Hammy and I haven't had much time together lately and our relationship is feeling the strain of it but he's playing music Saturday, leaving the house in late morning and probably not returning until early morning (1-2:00 am) the next day, so we wouldn't really be seeing much of each other over the weekend, anyway. Knowing how distant we're feeling from one another, we've talked about the need to create time to be alone together next week. I'm hoping that the youth and I will arrive home early enough for Hammy and I to go out together for an hour or so Sunday evening. We'll have to play it by ear, I reckon.

This is only my second time being a Friendly Adult Presence at a SAYF retreat. The last time was Declan's first retreat probably almost 3 years ago when I drove to Asheville with Finn, who was still a nursling, and the teens. That time I hung out at the retreat but Finn, who was a toddler, required the majority of my attention. I didn't really get to visit with the adults or get to know the youth. Hammy and I helped drive to last year's Atlanta retreat but we didn't hang out at all. I am feeling some little amount of trepidation because I get the impression that the FAPs all know each other well and all have the routine down. I have no idea what my role or responsibilities will be or what will be expected of me and I don't have any established relationships with anyone except my son, who avoids me at all costs. I dislike feeling an outsider trying to fit in, although I think it's good to feel that sometimes just to remind me to always be welcoming of others who are newcomers.

I've made myself a mix CD of all my favorite "Soul" music; 4 CDs actually, with Van Morrison comprising about a third of all the songs. Here's the lyrics to one of my favorite Billy Bragg songs:

"Some Days I See the Point" by Billy Bragg

Never saw a meaningful tv advert,
I don’t think shopping is a metaphor for life
Don’t waste my time at the gym in the morning,
try to keep trim by living my life

Wanna feel the wind blowing in my hair,
Wanna hear the waves crashing on the beach
I’m not seeking easy answers or inner peace
I’m just looking for some release

I want to help to make the world better
but I can’t do it all on my own
Try to keep the lid on my disappointment
‘cos cynicism’s such a cop out I know

Watch the shadows of clouds moving on the hill
Open my eyes and drink my fill
On those days that I feel dejected
I come up here for a bit of perspective

Gonna follow the path that climbs up through the trees
Walk along the cliff top and gaze out to sea
I feel free when I come up here
And if it's clear some days I see the point

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Morning Has Broken

The weather has finally begun to cool and it smells like autumn outside. I feel so much more at home in my body and the world when my temperament and the weather are in agreement. In the summer I wake up anxiously awaiting the shift. In the autumn, I awaken singing. This morning and many mornings since I was a girl, the song has been "Morning Has Broken". Imagine my delight when I began attending Nashville Friends Meeting and found this song in our hymnal! Here's a link to a Cat Stevens performance on Youtube.

Morning Has Broken

As Sung by Cat Stevens
lyrics by Eleanor Farjeon

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the word

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


My intention for today is to quiet myself and create still moments in which to listen for Spirit. I have two interviews scheduled, need to make several phone calls to potential respondents, will probably drive my oldest to a friend's house, will help my younger two with their school work and will go out to work this evening-my usual, busy, crazy day. Today I will seek out the silence amidst the bustle so I may feel/hear/sense God within.

"Silent Worship of the Virtue of Prudence" by Cliff Coleman

Monday, September 10, 2007

Learning to Listen

This is Monday. I got back from the retreat last night. When I awoke this morning, my calves screamed as I got out of bed because of the walk up the "mountain" at the retreat center I took first thing yesterday morning.

I don't think I'm going to go into too much detail about the retreat other than to say that some of the planned activities went really well and others not so well but I learned something from each one. We did a lot of talking, both in dialog and taking turns telling our stories. We worshipped in silence often and sang some. We cooked and ate and cleaned a laughed a lot. One of the members of our party began feeling very poorly due to a stomach virus and had to leave on Saturday. We missed her but reached out to her in spirit frequently through the remainder of our time together.

I think the thing that made this retreat different and special to me was that each of us was willing to begin opening ourselves to each other and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. And we have committed to doing and being very definite and specific things for ourselves and one another. We have each committed to actively engage in a daily practice which was chosen for it's ability to bring us closer to Spirit. We spoke aloud our commitments to ourselves and one another. We also agreed to hold one another accountable. Each month we will check in with one another.

Oddly, I don't feel "filled with the Spirit". I feel hopeful but also somewhat detached. I think perhaps I'm feeling some amount of trepidation and fear of the changes I'm opening myself to. This is just what I asked for and now that I've committed to it I'm not sure I'm up to it. If I believed in Satan, I'd say he was "talking to me" but I know this comes from me. I know that what's familiar and comfortable in my ego is saying that change is not all it's cracked up to be. All I can do is to ask God to help me find my way.

The practices I have committed to are to read or write every day, to be mindful in my interactions with my children and, although I forgot to say this outloud, to pray every day.

I'm having a hard time with prayer. I've been praying every day for a while. I can "talk" to God but I'm not so good at listening. One of the people in our group referred to the "noise in his head" once or twice. I think it's the same as my "chihuahua brain" and what Buddhists refer to as "monkey mind". I'm good at thinking. I'm completely out of touch with listening. I don't know how to slow my brain down enough to listen to God. I used to "feel" God as a physical sensation in my solar plexus. This was before I "found" God; back when I was an agnostic seeker. The second time I sat in Meeting for Worship, I had the epiphany that my "gut feeling" was God speaking to me through my intuition. Almost as soon as I understood that, the sensation no longer happened. I have experienced God in other ways since then, including hearing a voice in my ear. Now, God is silent but I know it's because I'm supposed to learn a new way to listen. But learning to quiet and still my mind is something I've been struggling with since the first time I sat in Friends meeting.

"Teach me to stop and listen,
Teach me to center down.
Teach me to hear in silence,
Things that are never found.

Teach me to be collected,
Teach me to be in tune.
Teach me to be directed,
Silence will end so soon.

Then when it's time for moving,
Grant it that I may bring,
To every day and moment,
Peace from a silent spring."

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Learning to Serve

My bags are packed (all but my toothbrush and paste) and I'm ready to go. I'm leaving in an hour for the Nashville Friends Meeting "Growing In the Light" Spiritual Formation Group opening retreat.

We're staying at Penuel Ridge, which is a lovely retreat center about 15 miles out of Nashville in the middle of nowhere. It's the same place I have hosted my "Motherhood and Spirituality" retreat days.

Last night, Hammy and I went to Kinko's to make copies of some handouts. I've got the ingredients for the salad I'm making for lunch tomorrow. I've got my brown-bag lunch for today. All the participants have been contacted about everything they need to bring (or leave at home). I was going through my mental checklist yesterday and said to Hammy that either I'm going to get there and find that I've forgotten something really important or this is unfolding without a hitch.

I've never organized a group like this with a retreat before. When Caroline and I first talked about it, we both agreed that we'd like 10-15 folks to participate. Well, we have 14, including ourselves. I'm so happy that this thing I have been called to do is filling a need for others for whom I feel love and esteem. It's a wonderful, dynamic and very supportive group of people; some are newer to Quakerism, some long timers. I know I will be nurtured simply by being with each of them. The part of me that keeps worrying that I'm forgetting something is being gently shushed by the part of me that is reassuring me that "way has opened" as God wants it to be. What a relief! I can let go of my ego and let God lead me. But that means I have to LET GO OF MY EGO. I have always been all puffed up when I've organized things which others have enjoyed. I am doing this as a servant. I don't want thanks or, though I guess it's probably inevitable that folks will thank me, I don't want to get all puffy and blown up by thanks. I want to learn to be humble. I'm using the gifts given me by God to serve God through God's "body".

I've been bumping into a bunch of Dominican nuns around town. I've not seen any one of the regularly enough to recognize them as individuals but whichever ones I see, we always smile and greet one another in some way. Some of them are very young. The oldest is probably no older than 35 or so. I used to be so frustrated and judgmental about a young woman taking vows and basically giving up her life for the Catholic church. Lately, I see it as freeing in many ways. I still don't have much use for the Catholic church with all it's pomp, wealth and hierarchy, but there are some things it offers that we Quakers have to seek out and create on our own.
I have always been such an individualist. I have been about ME. I have been the subject of MY LIFE. ME, ME, ME. God was a nice accessory, filling the spiritual portion of my being. I can see a very strong appeal to giving up all the things that make me feel like the center of the universe so I could learn to be humble, to serve, to make God the subject of my life. My path is to do it a day at a time rather than committing to a life of austerity. That way seems, in many ways, much easier. This path is all learning something one day and forgetting it the next and then relearning it again. I'm on my path but oftentimes I forget that God is my path and my destination, thinking that I'm just walking for the scenery or to get somewhere or for my health.

That's one of the things I want to "work on" (opening myself to God's Light) during the 9 months we are participating in Growing In the Light. I want to learn to let go of myself and open up to God. I want to mean it when I say "not my will but Thine".

This song has been running through my head since reading a post via "Quakerquaker" yesterday:

Seek ye first the Kingdom of God
And all it's righteousness
And all these things will be added unto you