E.G. (elainegrey) wrote,

A Black California Friend sends prophetic-voice email around to some collection of us, which i think varies. He's open in his distribution. Sometime i reply privately, sometimes publicly. His last email was on whether it was harder to be a Quaker Poet or a Black Quaker. He'd gotten back two answers along the lines of "Gee, people are challenged by poetry."

I feel i've learned something in this reply. Maybe it's saying "out loud" that i've given up on "Quakers," which in this sense happened very long ago.

It's hard to be a Quaker.
It's hard to open your heart so wide and then hear ministry steeped in a
certain privilege.
How do you address that person?
Knowing they are trying to be the best Quaker they can be?
(Oh, but are they TRYING.)

-- and R---, here i admire you so much! The struggle to open eyes
wide when it seems they're caught in REM sleep.

It's hard to be a Quaker.
It's hard when your experience of the Mystery is so personal,
and so many people have an experience
and words for that experience
and a frame for that experience
that they cling to.

My father advised me once
long ago, from Corinthians,
"Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a
stumbling block to the weak."
I read it again this morning
"But knowledge puffs up while love builds up."

Oh that i knew how to build up human understanding as i know how to
build up soil!
I know how long, how so many years, it's going to take
to build up this red clay that lay under rich topsoil
and that topsoil has washed away.
this year, little produce.
Next year, rotation -- but the deer are eating my beans and peanuts!

It's hard to build up the soil
It's hard to be a Quaker
It's hard to be an instrument of the Divine
and trying to love that injustice away.

There isn't a quarterly return.
And as an instrument of Love
you do not get to see the effects of your Love.
(Credo, II: even if my efforts don't seem to have any effect,
I trust the the Divine has led me where my service is needed.
It's not futile.
Even if it looks that way.)

It's hard to be a Quaker.
It's hard to trust that everyone else cares as much as you do.
(When clearly they don't care about the same things.)
It's hard to trust that they are following their leadings and call
When yours is going in a different direction.

And of course
It's hard to trust you are hearing that leading and call aright
when others are loudly calling out their leading.

I find it hard to trust as you trust, R--, to be as vulnerable as you.
I don't know that i've shared my pains the way you've shared yours.
And - oh! - to share your pain and get a lecture back!
We ache-- no: I ache, to be Seen, to be Heard.

I watched how Christine, so overcome by that ache,
shared one of her deep truths that had been hidden from so many for so long.
Quakers didn't see her.
And it broke her heart.

You can't hide your deep truth from us,
your difference, your knowledge you have
that we don't.
I suspect the rest of us get to go around
hiding our truths and our vulnerabilities.
I do. I can. I share a little here, there.

I may have given up on Quakers, R---, long ago.
But my leading is to stay and be in community with Friends.
I suspect you know this -- how to find a few hearts that see you,
lean there, trust there --
I'll admit, i suspect the leading to stay is for me to learn
From Friends like you.

It's hard to be a human.

But to be a prophet? It looks impossible.

Can i help?

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