Monday, November 24, 2008

A Little Explanation

I love our new world.  Because I'm a medievalist--that is, a doctoral student in medieval history--I always get comments alluding to the fact that I was born in the wrong century.  So what if I talk about "walking to the market" and use candles and would rather sing with other people than listen to the radio?  I don't, in fact, wish to have been born in the Middle Ages, or any other century for that matter.  I can imagine no better time to live in than the present.  It seems that we are now in the process of deep collective reflection, and that we are standing on the edge of vast shifts in the way we live our lives and relate to other people and the Earth.  I see this blog as a place to add little bits to our collective reflection.  "The earth of humankind," wrote Hildegard von Bingen, "contains all moistness, all verdancy, all germinating power."  The mustard seeds have been planted.  The Kingdom of Heaven (what some have beautifully called the "Kin-dom of Heaven") is at hand.

As a Christian, a Quaker, I am called to integrity, honesty, and openness.  I am called to truth.  I have not been faithful to this testimony.  I have been afraid to engage in the forbidden God-talk.  I have hesitated to voice my thoughts on anarchy, compassion, and love for the Earth and all created things.  I have edited and censured the things I say.  I have sometimes even lied.  I have been afraid of what other people might think.  But I am not ready to embrace complete openness right now.  I suppose this blog is a confessional for me, a place where I can openly write of the things on my mind without making the commitment to speak of these things in realtime, face-to-face.  Here, I will be honest and true.

At the present moment, God has called me to the traditional Quaker witness of Plain dress.  I don't really know why (I suppose I'll make a post of it soon enough).  All I know is that it has come to be a sort of religious habit for me.  Certainly, it probably makes some kind of outer witness, but what it says to other people I have yet to ascertain.  But it has definitely had its effect on me.  When I put on the plain collarless shirt, the suspenders, the vest, I am reminded that I am a Quaker--in the world but not of it--and that I need to keep in the Light and be faithful to the truth, my truth.  At meeting several months ago, the sounds of the children at First Day School wafted through the floorboards and disturbed our silence.  I was led to stand and speak:  I admitted that I had often felt the push to speak during meeting, but for some reason had always tried to suppress it.  I supposed that it might be fear of disrupting the silence or saying something 'wrong.'  But I know that God is not afraid of shaking things up;  in fact, he asked us very explicitly to be like little children.  The children who openly speak their minds with perfect clarity and honesty and freedom.  The children who were now rupturing our peaceful decorum with high-pitched shouts of joy.  

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