Monday, November 30, 2009
A Friend had a lovely message at Thanksgiving about the rightness of a season of thanksgiving before Advent, the time of expectant waiting for the Light to return to the world.
In RantWoman's childhood, Advent often meant special music at church; as an adult, RantWoman, cough, cannot really rely on her beloved Meeting to meet her musical needs and always has to make an extra point during this season to fill up the tanks of her soul.
RantWoman is feeling extra focus about tending to her own needs this year. RantMom is still laid up from badly needed knee replacement surgery and RantWoman cannot even rely on RantMom's accounts of Advent services at her church for vicarious Advent revivals.
RantWoman is thus especially taken by today's God's Politics entry
http://blog.sojo.net/2009/11/30/advent-apocalypse-now/ Many years running, RantWoman's father, call him RantDad got quite upset with the pastor of the church where he worked. Dad would always prepare lovely Christmas-themed programs and the minister every year without fail would also have to launch into long discussions of the crucifixion on top of the baby Jesus. Pastor never got to Revelation which considering the time conflations of the above post may or may not be a good thing. In any case, RantWoman finds herself delighted to look at the matter in a completely different light.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
RantWoman is proud that he made it all the way through Meeting for Worship. He has a medical excuse for one trip, made as unobtrusively as possible, to the restroom. Mean Old Auntie made him put away the cellphone with the video game on it before worship. He had one spell of doing something that made a clicking sound several times, but he stopped it immediately when asked. In other words, considering his Auntie's sudoku struggles, he did better than his Auntie who will perhaps at least revisiting the Bible passage about entering the kingdom of heaven like a child.
Or perhaps Auntie RantWoman will simply be speaking again and yet again with EyeRoller Friend. Today's complainer was an Elderly Friend who said that EyeRoller Friend's writing and drawing was distracting. RantWoman told Elderly Friend that she cannot see far enough across the room to know what EyeRoller Friend is doing. RantWoman was stayed in a SLIGHT inclination to tell Elderly Friend he should be glad Eye Roller Friend's behavior is the worst problem of his day. RantWoman considers that listening to Elderly Friend is part of a ministry in its own right regardless of what happens with EyeRoller Friend. RantWoman now wishes she had asked Elderly Friend whether he was also bothered by Friend Who Sews During Worship who was in attendance today as well or only by EyeRoller Friend.
One of EyeRoller Friend's admirable qualities is that he, like RantWoman can talk and deal with dirty dishes at the same time. RantWoman and EyeRoller Friend were busy with dishes after worship before a pending memorial and RantWoman asked EyeRoller Friend what he was working on during worship. EyeRoller Friend is self-employed in a creative line of work. It turns out that the muse had struck during worship and EyeRoller Friend was seizing the moment to get a handle on a considerable spell of intended output.
HELP! RantWoman has sometimes been visited by the muse during worship, though such visitations are usually quite brief and contained. RantWoman can well relate to those moments when one MUST write something down. RantWoman's visitations by the muse tend to be short, the sort of thing that can be written down BRIEFLY , typically jottings on the bulletin,before returning to worship. RantWoman suspects that Elderly Friend did not have in mind something short but compelling.
RantWoman had been celebrating that EyeRoller Friend made it all the way until announcements without any sound effects. Okay, so RantWoman had been seasoning ministry about the 10th anniversary of certain events in Seattle and the role of faith-based activism of all stripes in the US compared to ...; RantWoman is certain that message would have caused EyeRoller Friend to roll his eyes and the message did not happen for other reasons. RantWoman is also thinking of telling EyeRoller Friend that he should not distress Elderly Friend as karma investment for when he is as old and has as many problems as Elderly Friend. Alas, besides the temptation to provide inappropriate detail, Do we suppose...?
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Jana had a whole house full of friends and relatives for Thanksgiving. Knowing in advance of the full house plans, RantWoman noted that Warren also came to Thanksgiving worship before the feast at home.
"Jana's summary of the day: "I really enjoyed preparing a couple of our family Thanksgiving recipes together with Rosa. Felix helped us by setting up the table. We also enjoyed everyone visiting after the meal. We benefited from tasty dishes from all!" Lots of good food, lots of smiles, lots of catching up and reminiscing - and a feeling that we all had lots to be thankful for.
Jana has started to put more weight on her left foot, and this has made it much easier to generally get around. Physical therapy has given Jana the OK to graduate from using a walker to using crutches, which Jana has just acquired. The thought is that stairs might be easier to navigate with crutches - but there will be a new learning curve on walking with crutches."
The item here is an economist's account of his own intellectual history. RantWoman is stashing it here both in hopes that she herself might have time to read some of the items cited and with a thought that perhaps others will as well.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
RantWoman, for her part, was worshipfully seasoning thoughts of what level of cantankerousness is needed for this generation, whether and how to join the cantankerous pantheon of difficult and challenging personalities who founded our Meeting and wove a community out of many clashes and collisions of character. The message thread eventually turned to more outward-oriented customary Quaker meditations on war and peace, but not without a RantWoman mental excursion related to sudoku.
It was cloudy and there was a lot of glare, so RantWoman was definitely feeling proddings in the direction of sudoku or at least messages about sudoku. The latest thought exercising RantWoman is that she has been doing sudoku sometimes in Meeting for Worship for probably close to a year at least. No one said anything--until RantWoman got nominated for a certain committee.
RantWoman remembers a certain uptick in her sudoku habit after an eye procedure basically did what it was intended to do but also added and enhanced some of the annoying visual effects RantWoman deals with all the time. Okay, so enhanced light trails and even bumpier double-vision are not necessarily the first thing it occurs to one to share when someone asks "how are you?" RantWoman can certainly also articulate reasons sudoku helps her center, but RantWoman is meditating about options for more verbal communication.
RantWoman today also found herself wondering how many others around her have things on their minds that they do not know how to share. RantWoman finds herself ambivalent about even wanting to know. A few weeks ago, a Friend offered a message about someone she knew who, when faced with expenses for an upcoming trip decided to double her contribution to her faith community and then never wound up worrying about money on her trip. RantWoman wishes that were feasible for her on the financial front, but RantWoman realized doubling her outlay of compassion MIGHT be achievable, at least part of the time. RantWoman is pretty sure that would not suffice for everyone around her, but she darn well supposes others could do their part too....
By this time, the last message was pointing out that the state of WA contributes 10 times the projected state budget deficit to certain war efforts. That is, programs that aid the most humble of people in the US are being gutted to buy bombs for... Well, you get the idea, and RantWoman is already trying not to gallop any further ahead of her Light. In a similar vein, warning: the following item is chock full of frank and unQuakerly language, but then that would be exactly the sort of material that RantWoman would rabidly recommend
Saturday, November 21, 2009
RantWoman is adding it with a number of questions but no answers:
What is it about the process of worship, corporate worship that creates dynamics where the whole group submits to the direction a process takes even if individuals feel out of unity?
Consider a small example: RantWoman apologizes to the world for being stuck on her compost thread. However, as long as she is stuck there, she must see what it feeds. Both Dear Friend and RantWoman think what actually got written in the minutes of the October business meeting regarding a certain nomination much discussed but not yet acted on are an abomination unto all standards of concise expression. We heartily concur with the Friend who said so when the minutes were reviewed in November. Both RantWoman and Dear Friend have nevertheless submitted to the Meeting's lack of inclination to better distill the issue. As RantWoman read said text for the umpteenth time, she also came to think that the point of the lengthy text is partly to help her figure out a number of points that several people, not just Dear Friend see.
This point is a peculiar moment: RantWoman has had strong indications that many Friends would simply move on and let Dear Friend be recorded as out of unity. RantWoman could find herself aggravated to the point of distraction and could be first among those willing to move on. RantWoman is thus aware that further dialogue and discernment about Dear Friend's concerns is kind of optional.
Yet RantWoman is aware that for better or worse, Dear Friend knows her as well or better than almost anyone else in Meeting. If anyone is going to help RantWoman find either better connections with her own inner teacher or things standing in her way spiritually that she cannot detect for herself, a good case could be made that Dear Friend is the person. RantWoman still has a long and lurid list of beefs and quibbles related to this point and will undoubtedly be seasoning further
But back to mapHead
If one speaks about the theists and nontheists submitting themselves to the will of God, then two possibilities come to mind. Perhaps the non-theists are submitting themselves to the possibility of God. Is it equally possible that the theists are submitting themselves to the possibility that God is nothing more than some warm fuzzy manifestation that somehow has rational benefits? RantWoman once explained to her nice Presbyterian mother that Quakers at least think God can handle the questions.
This point came up on a bus, while RantMom was still living elsewhere and coming to Seattle to visit children. RantMom had come to worship with RantWoman. One message full of questions, querulousness, bordering on despair had particularly concerned RantMom. RantMom said in her church, if a person offered such a message (RantWoman would say, if a person managed to cram such a message into the few minutes allotted for prayer requests), one of the deacons or elders would be certain to speak to the person afterward. RantMom was wondering what our Meeting does in such situations.
RantWoman was a bit taken aback. For one thing, she was already on a bus away from Meeting. For another thing, the Friend who offered the message has a master's degree in theology and taught our Bible study. This was when RantWoman made the point that at our Meeting, Friends who can talk in God terms definitely think God can handle the questions. Well, RantWoman did not really explain about Friends who are not sure about God but come to worship anyway; RantMom still allowed as how she is glad RantWoman found Quakers.
Once or twice recently RantWoman's Meeting decided we could agree about something or other but that we did not have to agree about the why of the matter. To cite the example of chemical sensitivities and fragrance-free, RantWoman could be predicted to generate a whole tirade about the oppressive patriarchal nature of the beauty and cosmetics industry. RantWoman might toss in rhetoric about some rationalist throwback to earlier ages when fragrances were intended to mask certain facts of hygiene. Or perhaps the ability to scent oneself pleasantly is one of those markers of positive social and personal capacity that the evolutionists among us would cite as beneficial to individual and group survival. Other Friends might be clear that they simply do not want to cause attenders asthma attacks, a point RantWoman can also easily unite with.
Today's Our Daily Bread item is an interesting example. RantWoman has not yet digested the Bible verses. She got stuck on the teacher at the Christian college trying to interest his students in heaven by asking them to think about the Pacific ocean.
RantWoman grew up in Rocky Mountain states. RantWoman's childhood experiences with vast bodies of water tended heavily toward the lakes behind the dams a favorite great uncle did engineering work for. These lakes tended to have pretty definable shores and certainly never subsumed the whole horizon, nothing like the ocean.
RantWoman first saw the Pacific ocean during a high school Spanish club trip that included a few days in Mazatlan. RantWoman's overwhelming impression of the place, besides the vastness of the horizon and the relentless lapping of waves, was the smell of fish and salt and wild teenage enthusiasms. RantWoman supposes she could think of worse places to spend eternity, but she is more grateful to have the choice about visiting many more places as well.
First was the question of who to ask to serve. This was a walk down a list of names with Dear Friend. We came up with a considerable list of people to ask. RantWoman at least was very gratified by the large percentage of Friends who responded. As RantWoman has previously written, our list should have included one or two Friends under 40 and did not. Sigh. RantWoman is actually not displeased with the group that wound up meeting on the best date for everyone even though RantWoman does not know all of them well. They are all seasoned Friends and asked enough perceptive questions for RantWoman to get something out of the process, but more on that shortly. (RantWoman has since learned that, predictably, Dear Friend also has grumbles and RantWoman needs him to articulate the grumbles for others besides herself to season.)
Next came the matter of RantWoman's quest for some guidelines about process aspects of a Clearness Committee, and preferably materials in a format that RantWoman can read on her own. RantWoman, besides her growing impatience on environmental grounds about xeroxing everything, gets mildly grumpy to be handed xeroxed lists of queries or guidelines that she has to interact with visually. (When RantWoman thinks about it even a little bit, this question wanders into lots of general questions about the internet age, relative costs and availability of digital services, the costs of publication and print, RantWoman's seemingly endless need for more gizmos to accomplish things others take for granted, and other Big Issues. RantWoman does not want to go there today.)
RantWoman really wanted guidelines in advance so she could think about them more meaningfully than if she just wings it. RantWoman wanted advance thought but also did not want to deal with the logistics of trying to meet with someone to have things read aloud. In the end RantWoman opted just to trust the Friends assembled. This would not be the first time RantWoman has just had to wing it. But RantWoman is getting ahead of herself again.
First RantWoman looked at her yearly meeting's faith and practice, online. There was lots of distinctly unhelpful material about clearness for marriage, definitely NOT what RantWoman and Dear Friend need. Dear Friend just changed his Facebook status from "it's complicated" to "in a relationship," an evolution RantWoman has been delighted to observe. RantWoman, for her part, briefly listed her relationship status on Facebook as "it's complicated." A friend wrote and asked what RantWoman meant; this friend already knew all the salient complications and RantWoman decided she did not want to answer more questions so she deleted any mention of the topic from her profile. Anyway, the point is the situation with RantWoman and Dear Friend is a bit complicated, but impending marriage to each other is definitely NOT one of the complications.
RantWoman put the term Clearness Committee into the search engine of her choice. RantWoman got a fair number of hits, though about the first three screens of search results relate to Parker Palmer. Parker Palmer writes about a model of a circle of close persons who only ask the focus person questions and help him or her uncover an inner teacher. This model did not to RantWoman's mind speak to the problem of how to help RantWoman and Dear Friend explore the things we needed to explore: some painful personal dimensions of circumstances around her nomination, as well as what we now need to ask of others.
Next, RantWoman looked specifically among materials on the FGC site. Here RantWoman found more that seemed topical reading about conflict and eldering than specifically whatever the Clearness Committee material spoke of. At this point, RantWoman wrote up an email to her committee reporting on her quest and asking for thoughts, especially thoughts about how to handle the dynamics of two people needing to ask things of each other and relying on the clearness committee to listen and ask questions of either or both. (RantWoman has since had phone conversations enough to wonder whether phone would have been faster than email. Well....)
One of RantWoman's questions at this point related to a period just before our Meeting's Year of Discernment. A Friend on Oversight committee had the bright idea that Friends should consider kind of a mini-clearness committee. Friends were offered training. Well, RantWoman does not remember who the training was offered to. RantWoman specifically now wishes if she had the chance that she had signed up and is pondering what would have made her overlook such an opportunity at the time. She also suspects at the time that the prospect of such a mini clearness process would have seemed either prefunctory or high risk of more emotional content than RantWoman would know how to handle. In phone conversation after the committee for RantWoman and Dear Friend met, RantWoman has learned that there were guidelines developed at that time, but RantWoman has been told they do not necessarily relate to RantWoman's situation either. RantWoman was also happy to learn at least some of the committees that met then were quite meaningful for participants and one even just threw out the guidelines.
RantWoman eventually got emailed back some material one of the members of the committee had been scanning from some archival work for Oversight Committee. This material was from the long-deceased and fondly remembered Friend. It also ran heavy to clearness on marriage or to what our Meeting now more commonly calls care committees, committees formed to help a person draw on community support during a wide variety of life difficulties. RantWoman has powerful experience with care committees, both giving and receiving; perhaps that needs to be another post. RantWoman also notes that a later booklet about care committees is also out of print, but she is trying to stay on task about clearness committees anyway.
RantWoman is not certain the concept of Care Committee is completely inapplicable here. Dear Friend has one and RantWoman supposes there are some topical questions she could consider asking him about that. RantWoman used to have one; it sort of dissipated after RantWoman solved some but definitely not all the big questions of her midlife visual de-evolution. One time a member of RantWoman's care committee listened to some or another iteration of RantWoman's interactions with allegedly helpful bureaucracies and asked with trademark deadpan delivery, had RantWoman ever considered having "an anger management moment?" Uhhh, RantWoman is not sure she needed any incitement in that direction.
Back to clearness committeess: The main point, though: the small excerpt emailed to RantWoman and Dear Friend said nothing about process for the situation with RantWoman and Dear Friend. RantWoman wondered whether anyone would come to the meeting with more thoughts than came through in email. Um, no. Since the committee has met, RantWoman has chatted with a couple other Friends who said they have this or that pamphlet or that our Meeting often uses this or that pamphlet though not necessarily applied to RantWoman's situation either. RantWoman has also run a couple weighty Friends' names through her preferred search engine. This caused RantWoman to tromp--again--into the realm of electronic publishing and accessible content. But again RantWoman is getting ahead of herself.
Our committee picked a date, time, location. Everyone but Dear Friend made it on time; Dear Friend was snared in some or another of his endless bus vagaries. RantWoman is meditating about whether she needs to suggest to Dear Friend RantMom's approach to the bus. RantMom's approach is always to leave preposterously early for bus trips, to stand around stomping her cane until her children arrive at the agreed time and then still frequently to arrive places even earlier than RantWoman does. RantWoman somehow is not sure her advice would be helpful, but Dear Friend's interactions with the bus are a continuing vexation when he and RantWoman try to meet. Dear Friend is not, alas, the most vexatious user of transit in RantWoman's life.
While we all waited for Dear Friend, first we chatted about the new Light Rail and then settled into chit chat about our cats. RantWoman is often chit-chat challenged, but the cat chatter helped settle some of RantWoman's nerves.
RantWoman briefly considered being fairly adamant: RantWoman sometimes facilitates meetings, sometimes interprets, sometimes is just a participant in conversations. From painful experience, RantWoman knows she should ONLY ever try to do one role at once and monitoring the flow or proposing guidelines was way more than RantWoman wanted to do in this situation. RantWoman was still seasoning what to say about all this when Dear Friend just plunged in.
RantWoman thought of deleting the following; she definitely feels no need to specify or craft further:
Some points vexing RantWoman that she just wanted to tell Dear Friend, again, this time in front of others.
Some points of misunderstanding from months ago that it now seems pointless to try to reconstruct.
Dear Friend had previously hit an emotional landmine of RantWoman's that he had no idea even to look for. RantWoman was pretty adamant about making the point of not necessarily having to or being able to talk about details to recognize signs of tender points and to think about working around them.
Somewhere along the line, RantWoman got the idea that Dear Friend felt that RantWoman considered some of his view unimportant. "Unimportant?" Unusual for Dear Friend? Unusual for the wide range of characters RantWoman lives and works among? The point possibly most topical for the Clearness process: How specifically related to Meeting?
RantWoman has in mind a few topics she will try to talk with Dear Friend about by phone. There was a sense of being done for the evening if not necessarily for good. RantWoman frequently has to go away from conversations and think things over and season and come back to topics. That might mean meeting again though we are unclear. If we do, RantWoman is going to ask the committee to pay attention to one dynamic. A couple times, one of the two focus people would speak, members of the committee would ask questions and the other focus person would not get asked whether there was anything to add before the conversation moved on to something else. A couple times RantWoman felt like there might be more to explore.
RantWoman is also seasoning some other points about what she has gotten out of dialogue with Dear Friend. The gist of that is like her experiences during worship: some messages for herself alone, some messages for others or the Meeting community but not necessarily during Meeting for Business, some diplomatic formulations about Meeting for Business...
At one sitting at her keyboard, RantWoman felt she lacked sufficient functioning brain cells to write of her own clearness committee and instead was going to see what some other Yearly Meetings have to say about such things. However, RantWoman allowed herself to be led instead to a couple blogs,
The above is an explanation of quakerism as the practice of business meetings and potluck regardless of what words one does or does not use about what RantWoman calls God. RantWoman remembers getting a similar idea somehow from something her junior high Sunday School teachers said. RantWoman is pretty sure her teachers would have been more certain and even patronizing about the point that somehow one must still accept Christ eventually, but in the meantime God could be taking a good long time laboring with the soul of the unbeliever.
Given RantWoman's quest above for materials online and therefore accessible to her, RantWoman thinks it could be funny to be reading the items below from Thomas Kelly back translated from a Russian translation.
Friday, November 20, 2009
RantWoman is not really posting with any concern to specific Friends' testimonies though if she thinks about it, she might get there. RantWoman is posting this with her usual caveat that people, even Friends are not necessarily all sweetness and Light, and even at our best are works in progress, which is one reason for need of continuing revelation and continued practice.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Bad Auntie has a relative, Sensible Auntie, a caring, conscientious adult who can support the difficult job of parenting while also reflecting examples slightly different from parents. The first Quaker RantWoman ever knew could certainly be called Sensible Auntie, at least in societies where any woman might be called an Auntie. Today's situation is definitely a Bad Auntie moment though.
RantWoman's nephew, sister, brother-in-law live right next to a big park where political marches sometimes start. One time RantWoman went to a march at that park. For some reason the number for the legal contact for the march was being announced over and over so RantWoman wrote it down in very large numbers in fat pen along her arm.
RantWoman was on her way to babysit Irrepressible Nephew and in fact was going to miss a good bit of the march due to babysitting duties. Alas, Bad Auntie the babysitter with the phone number written along her arm showed up just the very week when Irrepressible Nephew had been having lessons about not writing all over himself.
What do you know? Sister went out, Auntie was doing something on the computer and Nephew was watching television. (One downside of being Auntie is not getting much say about the television rules. Sigh.) Then the level of TV-related giggling dropped off suspiciously:
Auntie: What are you doing?
Yeah, right. Auntie discovered that Nephew had gotten out a purple marker and had made himself a seriously purple arm so that BOTH Auntie and Irrepressible Nephew had to shift immediately to serious arm scrubbing practice.
RantWoman was reminded of this last nigh talking about how one of those concerned about her Sudoku habit was a child bristling at having to do what one's parents say regardless of what other kids or adults do in the child's presence. RantWoman had exactly that sort of parents herself. RantWoman thinks it might be way too much to talk much about the intentional reasons RantWoman can cite for Sudoku, but she is wondering whether it would be appropriate somehow sometime to talk to such a child herself.
RantWoman will season the following thoughts before taking more steps to talk with the child:
It's definitely appropriate for parents to say " do as we tell you, regardless of what other kids or adults do." As previously mentioned, RantWoman had such parents herself.
RantWoman has been thinking about having to be told several times by different people about Sudoku. RantWoman thinks she knows both children and adults who sometimes also have to be told more than once about a problem. RantWoman bets a child MIGHT relate to that and to the idea that we can always continue growing in Light or faith or whatever word falls into place.
When RantWoman is feeling most charitable she has come to feel a certain amount of gratitude to Dear Friend for getting in her face. RantWoman is also still sitting with aggravation, frustration, confusion, and RantWoman definitely does NOT waht to overdo it.
One of the things RantWoman likes about the best of how Friends inter
act with children in Friends' Meetings, though, is that adults do a better job of listening to children than in the churches RantWoman attended as a child. When RantWoman is feeling most gracious, she would say Thank you to the child, thank you for speaking up, thank you for exercising inner Light, thank you for getting grownups to talk about some hard stuff. RantWoman is not going to hurry into this, but...
Monday, November 16, 2009
RantWoman used to have a co-worker who called it "silent seminar," a business lingo formulation that continues to crack RantWoman up. Whether you call it silent retreat or silent seminar or a cheap way to get out of town for a couple days (and possibly to be glad of living in a city when one gets back), RantWoman has always found the silent retreat amazingly nourishing, both for the company of other Friends and for the ambivalence of rustic lifestyle in the middle of winter.
There is always common space for worship and a place and centered Friend to talk with if one needs to talk. After a short intro and questions, the intent is to spend the weekend mainly in silence. People read, write, knit, worship. Food is prepared; fires are tended, hikes may be taken. RantWoman highly recommends the Silent Retreat.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
RantWoman mentions this point just in case anyone gets the idea that finally having a number of different people talk and listen to her about Sudoku is the ONLY thing that settled all the nerves behind her Sudoku habit. Lately, RantWoman also sometimes just takes her glasses off. This does not solve all the problems the sudoku does but often enough seems to take enough edge off RantWoman's frenzy.
Today in the category of peculiar blessings, RantWoman also counts the kink in her bus schedule that forces her to leave home 15 minutes earilier than she would prefer: RantWoman now gets to try to get acquainted with but without running into both coffee drinkers from early worship and people from the discussion hour as well as other newcomers. Now if RantWoman can learn to schmooze her way out of a paper bag, and in a noisy environment to boot...
Okay now, between these experiences and goading caught along the way while RantWoman was looking for other material about speaking directly to people one has a concern with, RantWoman herself spoke to EyeRoller Friend. EyeRoller Friend laughed about RantWomans thoughts on the accessibility features of his, uh, problematic ministries and then conversation turned to a message from Friend Political activist.
Friend Political Activist had diverged from his most common themes and offered ministry that in RantWoman's estimation crystalizes the theology behind Friend Political Activist's usual ministries: we are all angels. RantWoman does not remember the exact formulation, but she was conversing with Eye Roller Friend about what it means to be an angel, direct relationship with and embodiment of the divine. Yeah, so we all embody the Divine. What the heck does that solve about our individual lives or about how to be divine together?
Here EyeRoller Friend rolled his eyes in the direction of Dear Friend. Let us first note here that RantWoman knows both from talking to EyeRoller Friend and from Dear Friend, that Dear Friend has been in frequent conversation with EyeRoller Friend. It is obvious to RantWoman from conversations on both sides that the message just has not taken and EyeRoller Friend at least is peeved about this. EyeRoller Friend's, um, ministries aside, RantWoman felt called to point out that merely embodying the Divine, not to mention rousing certainty that one is embodying the Divine correctly can be a tough row to hoe. It's not just all the personal upheavals needed to align oneself with some kind of understanding. It's also the slings and arrows of others who remain willfully oblivious or unenlightened as to the precise nature of one's divinity. RantWoman speaking only for herself is having more than enough trouble getting a handle on her own divinity and, possibly for obvious reasons, did not feel obliged to go on at TOO much length about the divinity of others such as Dear Friend!
RantWoman has a concern that perhaps the level of evident likability may not always be easily discernible and the need to elder before one likes the person very profound. RantWoman thus proposes a couple new principles, updated for the current millenium:
--Friends wishing to elder someone must find at least ONE thing to like about the person for each eldering encounter.
--Friends obliged to elder someone more than 5 times about the same topic are allowed to substitute appreciation for the opportunity to practice eldering skills for any additional likability factors PROVIDED they also consider the possibility that if 5 efforts have not worked, perhaps they need to seek new Light on the matter. Remedial Eldering anyone?
RantWoman is thinking of the item on A Passionate and Determined Quest for Adequacy about Angelic Troublemakers . RantWoman is thinking that angelic troublemakers are a great thing, but sometimes a change of teams in the nation's capital, including a Justice Departmet with backbone on related issues, as well as credible capacity to generate lawsuits and sit-ins does not hurt either. Well RantWoman is definitely not upset not to need either lawsuits or sit-ins yet, though MAYBE the Commissions can fix a few things BEFORE suits have to happen.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
RantWoman also decided they needed to be forwarded to the Meeting Clerk and the clerk of Nom Comm. One reason is that the second of the emails references something unrelated that RantWoman hopes but is not sure she has discussed with those people previously.
In RantWoman's even more outspoken youth, she used to be able to get herself into trouble with email any time of the day or night. RantWoman has mellowed considerably and acquired at least a SMALL measure of self-discipline. Now, MOST of the time RantWoman KNOWS she has to send anything she writes after 10 pm to the drafts folder overnight. One of the emails in question was sent at 10:02. RantWoman does not ENTIRELY regret sending it the way it went out anyway and at this moment is glad it exists as a point of departure for other conversations. This does not mean it is a brilliant example of Spirit-led communication, open-hearted seeking, conflict resolution--on either party's side, but since the conflictants were miles away from each other and venting, RantWoman considers that said email is healthier than many alternative scenarios.
RantWoman is quite clear that some questions about how her nomination unfolded are a matter for Nominating Committee. Since Nominating Committee at this writing has not grappled with RantWoman's latest questions and comments, RantWoman is going to delegate matters to them. RantWoman during this interval had several good helpful conversations about her Sudoku habit and other things. Dear Friend also kept asking RantWoman to go for a walk to talk about things to do with her nomination. Actually Dear Friend ONLY wanted to go for a walk. RantWoman's schedule did not easily accommodate that at that point and RantWoman kept trying to talk to Dear Friend by phone.
The first email documents RantWoman's frustrations about how Dear Friend was interacting with the phone at that point. Something else caught RantWoman up short the first time she reread it. What the heck did she mean? RantWoman was willing to have a conversation with Dear Friend. Even though RantWoman and Dear Friend go for walks together all the time and RantWoman really enjoys that, going for a walk did not sound appealing at that point and the word that caught RantWoman up short has a red flag aspect that now gets fed into our Clearness Committee. Oh Boy.
On a different topic, RantWoman this morning realized a couple more problematic points.
First there is the part about how recognizable different characters are. RantWoman realizes the Compost thread includes enough information that a large number of people can probably identify Dear Friend. How many of them could easily identify RantWoman without knowing more of the situation is a different problem. RantWoman is struggling about two contradictory standards. On one hand is our YM's query about being careful of the reputations of others; on the other hand is the question of struggling with difficulties in a spirit of love and truth. RantWoman is simply noting the struggle at this point.
The second problem is that a couple of recent entries include conclusions RantWoman has drawn from conversations with Dear Friend. RantWoman has communicated to others why she considers the conversations problematic and probably needs also to communicate that point to Dear Friend. RantWoman is also quite comfortable that her Meeting may take such facts as they get offered and draw other conclusions. That, one supposes, is discernment. For now RantWoman has other things ahead of that on her problem list.
Friday, November 13, 2009
RantWoman is new to blogging and newer to Quaker blogs. There is an access to technology / digital inclusion angle to this problem. Until now, RantWoman has been completely unschooled in other Quaker bloggers' practices about using names. More to the point, RantWoman has a different view.
Perhaps it is because RantWoman is writing a lot about people including herself who may not be at their best at the moment or whose gifts the Divine has wrapped in very challenging packages. RantWoman is treating her blog content the way our Meeting treats many sensitive concerns in our minutes which is to provide enough information that Friends understand the sensitive point but usually not to attach a name. Of course, when the summary minutes of the October business meeting behind the Compost thread appeared in our newsletter, one Friend who had not been at business meeting called RantWoman and knew immediately who Dear Friend is. RantWoman is pretty sure that people familiar with our meeting will also know almost immediately who Dear Friend is and if they do not already know who RantWoman is MAY also be able to guess that as well.
Robin M mentions that using names helps people connect at Quaker gatherings. RantWoman definitely does not suggest Friends adopt a practice RantWoman observed at a local social gathering of people who use Twitter. There everyone was asked to write their Twitter handle as well as their name on their name tag. Unless nametags are written in giant magic marker, RantWoman usually cannot read them anyway. RantWoman thus winds up relying on other strategies such as conversation in worship sharing and attention at meals or interest groups as far as making connections.
Right now, RantWoman's perspective is that she is searching online for material about how to do Quaker basics like Clearness Committees, eldering, the Good Order of Friends. Part of the reason is that Dear Friend's proddings have caused RantWoman to take responsibility for finding things out herself, and preferably online where she can scream over it with Mr. JAWS rather than cope with dust and a human's schedule to read out of print classics at our Meeting's library.
Here RantWoman's goal is to find good material, preferably more than one strand of thinking efficiently. RantWoman was thrilled to find a pamphlet of Lloyd Lee Wilson. RantWoman is also formulating a mental list of Friends she knows of with concern to and capacity to help her think about this in a broader way.
RantWoman here confesses an interesting grumble. RantWoman asked her clearness committee for comments about the Clearness committee guidelines she found online including a process question because of what is involved. RantWoman got back a nice scan of some material from our Meeting written by a dear and fondly remembered member who passed away more than two decades ago. Much as RantWoman appreciates the reminiscences of those who knew this beloved member, RantWoman thinks it is just possible that our Meeting might better expand the pool of people who know how to do Clearness Committees with some updated guidelines and MAYBE more talk about the work of such committees by people who have been through them. RantWoman just wanted to be able to read something in advance. RantWoman realizes maybe she should just pick up the phone too but at this point RantWoman is just going to let things play out and use alternative strategies of her own as far as interacting with whatever people come up with.
RantWoman means to post more detailed comments about her emerging questions about how to ensure the web provides the content we want and a zillion other web-related publications issues.
Two points stick out. First, traditional search engine rankings based on things that have a lot of links to them are not entirely on point if they put info one most wants several screens down. This is where knowing whose blogs are there and then using bloggers' tags or the search bar just within a single blog is probably a better approach. Or perhaps we also need to exchange information about which search engines and methods we like best.
Second, RantWoman is meditating about reading in the moment compared to thoughtful review at points in the future. RantWoman really likes the option easily of reviewing people's material from many years online but imagines that Friends need to become more systematically mindful about historical perspective. Our history is not just our minute books, which RantWoman might like to index and make availabe electronically just so she can read them anyway. Our history is also increasingly electronic content. It seems to RantWoman that the possibility of creating great volumes of content can be tremendously powerful for expressing our own spiritual journeys. However, it can also create a flood of flabbily constructed pieces that can be a lot of work to read or to reconstruct meaningfully for historical purposes. (RantWoman is conscious of being a case in point!)
RantWoman is in the midst both of seasoning a conflict with Dear Friend and trying to be present worshipfully as our whole Meeting works on aspects of that conflict. It is clear to RantWoman that people of different generations in our Meeting use the web differently or in some cases not at all. One wonderful weighty Friend in our Meeting still does everything on a manual typewriter. RantWoman so enjoys the tactile sense of this Friend's documents even though if she actually wants to read them, she either gets to have someone read it aloud or subject it to technology to read it herself.
On the other hand, RantWoman is HOPING others in her Meeting ARE reading her blog. Well, if they are, RantWoman would be glad for them to ask her questions or talk in person....
Thursday, November 12, 2009
In a recent email, Dear Friend asked RantWoman whether her intent moving ahead with Nom Comm without talking through all of Dear Friend's concerns with Dear Friend alone was to apply a common Anglo-Saxon epithet to Dear Friend. (For the record, there WERE screwups involved at different points, but bear with the narrative.)
RantWoman could think of much more fun scenarios for applying said epithet. To RantWoman's surprise, this morning said epithet wandered into RantWoman's brain with an exasperated alternative appreciation sense.
Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you ever so much. Gee Thanks. Now look...!
RantWoman is aware that Dear Friend would translate the epithet RantWoman would thus render into Quakerese a different more concise way. RantWoman so enjoys talking with Dear Friend specifically because our conversations sometimes have a level of irreverent wash-your-brain-out-for-even-thinking-that candor so completely at odds with popular images of historical and present Quaker earnestness. As RantWoman thinks about this whole story though RantWoman is wondering whether both of us in different ways are trying to vary that dynamic somehow.
RantWoman debated whether to get the above excursion out of her system and post the meat of her reflections in a separate entry. RantWoman is also sensitive to comments she has heard from several directions about emails and blog posts being abstruse and hard to read. Alas, RantWoman opted to leave things in one post, as part of vivid illustration of RantWoman's possible mental clutter. RantWoman has been compiling data.
Bless Dear Friend and his second-year Spanish mistake from an event last spring though. After only a tiny bit of reading about eldering and conflict on the way to what RantWoman was looking for about Clearness Committees, RantWoman is going to ASK whether Dear Friend and Nom Comm can help her compile a list of ways RantWoman's nomination process has helped us look again at basics of Quakerism. We just did a whole year on Discernment; what about Eldering? Conflict? Clearness processes? What exactly DO we expect of Nom Comm when a conflict arises? This paragraph MAY generate a whole separate post.
RantWoman was looking at some email at the beginning of the nomination process. RantWoman is meditating tonight partly about whether interactions between RantWoman and Dear Friend over the nomination issue got off to a bad start because of baggage from other people's history with Dear Friend. RantWoman first heard of Dear Friend's concern from someone else. Then began discussions with several Friends about Sudoku. Then Dear Friend still wanted to talk to RantWoman. Part of this was by email, part by phone.
HOWEVER, one of the early emails that so set Dear Friend off, while freighted with certain email harshness, also contains requests which seem entirely reasonable to RantWoman that perhaps Dear Friend do things like call at a reasonable hour rather than by voicemail reply left at 1 am, respect that RantWoman knows herself more than well enough to know that she often puts data together over time and different conversations, and be courteous about RantWoman's work schedule, pathetic though it might be.
RantWoman has not counted in her emails, but she is pretty sure she has told Dear Friend as least five times in email or by phone that she was having trouble hearing concerns specifically from Dear Friend. RantWoman wonders at what point it is reasonable to expect someone to get the message and try another approach.
RantWoman is also thinking about how she herself could and arguably well should have sought help sooner from others. RantWoman thinks she ought to meditate on this theme. It has come up a couple different ways. Even though RantWoman thought Dear Friend was a little bit missing the mark when he brought it up in one context,
Well, RantWoman is wondering that, but RantWoman is also finding the evolution of her thinking and explorations strangely energizing and ongoing conversations with Dear Friend are one big but definitely not the only part of that. That, RantWoman supposes, is part of why she is somehow supposed to thank Dear Friend for hanging in there with his concern.
The other night RantWoman called Dear Friend to ask him about something to do with our clearness committee. Conversation wandered to two instructive themes.
First was RantWoman's service as Recording Clerk. The first time RantWoman served as Recording Clerk, she herself was VERY new to Friends. The job suited her because RantWoman is not the most garrulous outgoing type and could just sit, write minutes, listen. RantWoman got little training about what constitutes good minutes. RantWoman is scratching her head trying to remember who was Clerk at that time. RantWoman remembers that the Clerk was well pleased with her minutes, that is the minutes were grammatical and complete sentences. Dear Friend mentioned that he thought RantWoman had been a little out of her depth and RantWoman asked him to explain.
A few years after RantWoman's term, RantWoman remembers discussion in Meeting for Business about how minutes should do things like clearly mark decisions, including both the fact of the decision and the wording of the decision so that later people can read the minutes and figure out what was decided. Minutes, Meeting for Business noted, should also distinguish between action minutes and minutes of discussion or reports.
Dear Friend mentioned these points, and RantWoman mentioned sitting in Meeting for Business during these discussions and thinking very clearly that she had probably written minutes exactly like the problems described and wished someone had told her this at the time. The second time RantWoman was recording clerk at least she tried to observed the conventions noted above. RantWoman did go and have to have serious eye surgery at the end of her second term of service so that it took a whole extra two months to get her last minutes done, but that is another problem.
The other theme that came up somehow relates both to a concern voiced by Dear Friend and variations on the theme mentioned in Meeting for Business, at the time RantWoman and Dear Friend were not present. This relates to rambling and wandering among not obviously related mental stopping points.
Somehow RantWoman and Dear Friend got to talking about a commonly used personality test that groups people into 16 groups according to their ratings on four different axes. People's groupings are not necessarily stable over time and the distribution of how people fall into the different groups is very uneven. RantWoman is most assuredly not well enough versed in the typology to think about anyone but herself. RantWoman has done the test a couple different times and for better or worse gotten similar not very common profiles in each case. RantWoman did not even think to ask Dear Friend what group he falls into.
Anyway, despite the known unreliability issue, this test gave RantWoman another way to look at comments from both Dear Friend and others in Meeting. RantWoman has consistently scored near the middle on two axes, very high for a woman on one of the third, and very high on the end of the fourth associated with people who can pick many possibilities out of just about any situation. RantWoman and Dear Friend had an interesting conversation about how this trait can be useful in picking points to work on out of conflictive situations but that seeming digressions can drive other people such as coworkers crazy. RantWoman is unclear what if anything she is going to do about noting a degree of concord between Dear Friend's concern and observations from others in her Meeting.
RantWoman at some point reacted to Dear Friend's concern with one of her trademark wisecracks: there is the committee RantWoman has been nominated to. There is Meeting for Business. If Dear Friend thinks RantWoman's level of emotional clutter is enough to overcome both of those sources of check, RantWoman really wants tips about tapping into this kind of power.
Maybe though RantWoman will season with one of the queries related to how do we help each other use our talents....?
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
One of the big issues in the Compost-themed saga of RantWoman and Dear Friend is what is required of an elder. Another is the degree to which Dear Friend's certainties in this area are entirely in order processwise in the first place. This said, RantWoman is getting enough out of SOME parts of the conversation to continue the dialogue, at least long enough to figure out what most needs immediate further attention and what parts will for a large number of different reasons have to work themselves out over time with different combinations of people. RantWoman also has this profound sense that, bewildering as some of this seems to be for some members of our community, there is some value in working things out semi-publicly and trying also to be explicit about process as we go along.
Well, sometimes RantWoman has this sense. Sometimes RantWoman thinks it is the most cockamamie organizational development strategy in the history of the known universe, that RantWoman herself should just flee to other things demanding her time. More on this in a post about leadings.
RantWoman supposes it would at least be good for an elder to aspire more toward the Quakerese version of the statement above. That ain't the half of it. If you want links and thoughtful reasoning--as opposed to what seeps out of mental lint in process of framing events, keep wanting; RantWoman does and will put some systematic grappling on her agenda at some point. If you can handle actual experience, read on.
Item: at Sunday's Meeting for Business, RantWoman was strongly led to elder unnamed Friends in general: if Friends have issues with Dear Friend on their own account, feel free; they need feel absolutely no need to have issues with Dear Friend on RantWoman's behalf. RantWoman only obliquely said she thinks they all need to get their process acts in gear as well; RantWoman is trusting that point will emerge again and again and is holding that process in the Light, holding herself in the Light to speak and model reasonably.
Item: speaking of modeling, early in the process of considering RantWoman's nomination, RantWoman had several conversations about her Sudoku habit. RantWoman has written about that elsewhere. The gist of the point: People, including some RantWoman is pretty sure have served on the very committee at issue, do all kinds of things in Meeting for worship. RantWoman does Sudoku partly because her eyes hurt. RantWoman's eyes do not hurt in a way that much can be done about and RantWoman is so clear about her need to be in Meeting for Worship among people she loves that she comes regardless. However, much as RantWoman wants to create an environment that models and supports worship, RantWoman honestly does not think it is terrible jus to sit with RantWoman's or anyone else's pain as part of our total experience.
Item: Yesterday RantWoman found herself eldering a member of our Meeting who is about to assume a very important faraway role. RantWoman had thought of asking this Friend a couple questions, but connections had not happened over several days and this Friend expressed other signs of being overwhelmed with transition adjustments. This Friend called RantWoman in another attempt to connect and in a reply voice mail. RantWoman realized the most appropriate thing to do is to tell the Friend she needs to consider herself released from any need to deal with RantWoman's questions and also that maybe this Friend should explicitly ask our Meeting for formal released status and topical care and support in her new role.
Item: in following up on RantWoman's kvetches about lunch and Meeting for Business, RantWoman was led to offer a suggestion to the clerk of personnel committee about using volunteer rather than paid time for one activity our Meeting may have more of as some projects unfold. RantWoman made the comment and now has confidence it will be well-seasoned.
Item: The Compost thread is unfolding against the background of a whole stew where RantWoman had to elder Dear Friend about a matter that properly falls under the purview of our Meeting's personnel committee. RantWoman and Dear Friend talk and laugh and grumble back and forth all the time, and one time Dear Friend was grumbling about the personnel question. RantWoman understood very fast from Dear Friend's words that his behavior was almost certainly a very big problem to people who are current personnel. RantWoman said as much to Dear Friend and did not feel heard. RantWoman spoke to the key topical staffperson. This person's words exactly matched what RantWoman had suspected from conversation with Dear Friend and RantWoman did what she could to help topical assistance fall into place. RantWoman at some point stopped trying to interact with Dear Friend and just listened to him vent.
RantWoman is perfectly well aware that the reasonable personnel committee view resulted in some decisions that are a pain in the rear for Dear Friend. RantWoman also discerns some topics that could benefit from community light, but under the circumstances the Meeting WILL get around to it when the time is ripe. Sometime, somehow, RantWoman would be THRILLED if Dear Friend can ever acknowledge to RantWoman that he understands the Personnel Committee perspective. Of course, trust, but verify anyway.
Item: The more RantWoman talks to Dear Friend about the exact circumstances of her nomination, the clearer RantWoman becomes that Dear Friend may in fact both be attending to things way out of scope for a nomination decision and be WAY out of order in process terms. RantWoman in the course of trying more fully to understand this committee's charge has figured out that Nom Comm has one view. Dear Friend has another view and it is further unclear what is current practice on the committee. For further grins RantWoman has read our Yearly Meeting's Faith and Practice and our Monthly Meeting's bylaws. To say RantWoman has not found clear authority about several points from the narrative so far would be an extreme understatement. RantWoman in a recent phone conversation heard Dear Friend articulate some highly topical points related to Faith and Practice and our bylaws but since RantWoman is not on the topical committee, she thinks Dear Friend's current interventions are doing a lousy job of upholding that committee's process, of building that committee's capacity to work things out in its current composition. RantWoman unquestionably could have been more articulate and proactive at several points so far, but nothing that has come has reduced the clarity of her concerns that Dear Friend is getting in the way inappropriately. Now how to translate all of that into Quakerese, Quakerese that will land for others whether or not it lands for Dear Friend.
Item: RantWoman needs to acknowledge a sense that many historical elders in our Meeting have in recent years either rudely gone and died or at least moved out to lovely retirement among all the other seasoned Friends in certain island and shoreline locales. Other Friends go an get name clerk of very, very important Quaker activities, and our location brings a steady stream of seekers so that we have an ongoing task of orienting and connecting people in many phases of evolution as Friends. The process of seasoning RantWoman's nomination has caused RantWoman to reflect about her service and training (or lack thereof) for a number of roles. This topic gets its own entry. Next came RantWoman and Dear Friend forming a clearness committee. RantWoman realized two things she is simply going to call out for now. 1. Despite TWO spells as recording clerk and service on multiple committees including clerking two of them, RantWoman herself has never been asked to sit on any Clearness committees. 2. Despite a continually articulated concern about involving people younger than 40, RantWoman and Dear Friend did not think even to make the point of including such folk on our list of people to be asked for help. So boo for both of us.
Finally, RantWoman has been thinking of a few email threads and other points from this process and she had a terrifying thought, a thought so horrifying that she is not even going to articulate it, a thought that God is going to have to wrap up and deliver to topical people directly. Ai-yi-yi!
RantWoman may use the names of organizations in her blog if the content is topical; RantWoman will also at times refer to organizations without mentioning their names, particularly if the point is not directly related to the mission of the organization.
RantWoman will with very limited exceptions not use people's names in her blog. Even if RantWoman uses people's names in one context, if that person figures in another context, RantWoman may or may not refer to said person by name. RantWoman was a Russian literature major in college and has an extremely high tolerance for characters referred to by several different names in the course of a narrative.
RantWoman is dividing up people she was thinking of blogging about as follows:
Unlikely to ever read her blog:
Example 1 Half a Brain Lady. RantWoman means this with no disrespect. Half a Brain Lady had to have half her brain removed because it was making life unlivable for the rest of her.RantWoman has previously written about her and will perhaps find the link. RantWoman knows Half a Brain lady in another context that sometimes figures in threads on RantWoman's other blog.
Example 2: Friend Poet. Friend Poet is actually a published poet. Friend Poet's spoken ministry is prone to even more poetic excursions than RantWoman's blog. When RantWoman was recording clerk, she used to despair of capturing, when necessary, the essence, of Friend Poet's words until one day the Light dawned. Friend Poet has a couple favorite themes and there is nearly always a nugget in his words. Further, it's poetry and if one misses part of the point, it's poetry anyway. Even nicer: Friend Poet seldom reads and even less often objects to anything in minutes. Friend Poet's words, while an essential ingredient in the whole stew, tend not to be key to capturing big decisions or sense of the meeting and therefore RantWoman can feel more liberated in her attentions than with some other Friends.
Friends who could but RantWoman considers not likely to read her blog.
Example 1: Dear Friend, RantWoman's co-catalyst in the Compost thread. He says he does not read blogs. RantWoman expects she will be able to detect whether he
Example 2: Eye Roller Friend.
People who very well might both read her blog and recognize themselves or others. RantWoman was going to blog about something to do with one such person before deciding she needs to list her rules.
Basically, if you know RantWoman, recognize yourself, have an issue with something in the blog, and do not already know ways to get in touch with RantWoman, Leave a comment and check the option to have responses emailed back to you. RantWoman will be happy to consider your concerns.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The list of topics and twitches on RantWoman's mind is so long that she is about to propose we go in with an open agenda, some thoughts about time blocks, and an eye to extracting points that might need further work by some combination of
Dear Friend alone
RantWoman and Dear Friend
others at our Meeting
Meeting for Business.
RantWoman is NOT going to post others' words without their permission; RantWoman is going to take the risks that her paraphrases distort intent. RantWoman is going to do that fully conscious that distortions may already be part of the problem.
NO! Not so much! RantWoman just moved a whole bunch of very specific gripes about Dear Friend, based on items in MM minutes and his emails to a draft item on this blog. The gist of the point: Dear Friend has said a whole bunch of things that RantWoman finds offensive, problematic, objectionable, patronizing...you get the idea. RantWoman in several conversations and emails has NO sense that Dear Friend gets big parts of why RantWoman is upset. In fact, the ONLY thing Dear Friend responds to is a RantWoman emotional minefield, a factor that is only a SMALL part of RantWoman's reactions. RantWoman promises to meditate further about how much she needs to articulate better and on what timelines.
Just because RantWoman cannot articulate a problem does not mean it does not exist. Likewise, Dear Friend not being able to respond as RantWoman might want does not mean RantWoman needs endlessly to endure direct effects of Dear Friend's non-response, particularly if Dear Friend's non-response is just recycling conflict and physical or emotional danger. This line of thinking almost exactly parallels one of Dear Friend's emails about the ill-fated October Meeting for Business, a point which raises another question about Dear Friend.
Dear Friend apparently has some hopes Meeting will address some longstanding thoughts of his about how meeting ought to address conflict. Maybe if RantWoman is feeling especially forward she will ask Dear Friend whether the way the current conflict has played out changes any of his previous thinking.
Thinking about what Dear Friend does or does not seem to get caused RantWoman to think of a different tack from the one in material redacted from a RantWoman email about the topic. The tack RantWoman just thought of:
Please describe why YOU think your counterpart in the conflict is upset.
Please describe the process you think is supposed to be followed.
Please describe how that process went awry from your perspective.
Lather Rinse Repeat from other person.
What RantWoman actually wrote in email about her thoughts on the Clearness process:
To be honest, Rantwoman is running hot and cold on different issues on different days. RantWoman proposes we leave the exact topics to leadings of Spirit and to requests from the Clearness Committee about information it might be helpful for them to have to frame the problem. RantWoman thinks we. have issues about how to talk about things as well as what is off limits or out of order or off-topic throughout the conversation so far. RantWoman also thinks it is possible that if Dear Friend and RantWoman both offer some narrative about their perspectives so far and the Clearness Committee just asks clarifying questions that we might go a a long way as far as what is needed.
RantWoman needs to state clearly things that will help her prepare and make a couple suggestions. RantWoman is open to timely proposals as to alternatives, but thinks there might be good reasons we accept some choices even if they are not automatically someone's preferred one.: Rantwoman thinks for different reasons both Dear Friend and RantWoman need to have whatever guidelines we are going to use in advance but will say more about that in a minute. RantWoman would like not to overspecify the content or constraints of this conversation at this point but instead to agree on a set of guidelines and maybe some format points and to recognize that we may need to spell out areas where we need additional clarification from outside the Clearness Committee.
An additional note: RantWoman is legally blind. She can read small amounts of regular print with great difficulty and does most of her reading in other ways. This is the midlife phase of DNA lotto. Some days RantWoman is better adjusted about it than others. Some days RantWoman is definitely still figuring out strategies that work in different situations. Some days this point is one factor in a particular kind of exasperation: at times RantWoman gets to a point in arguments where if the other party says water is wet, she wants independent confirmation. In this case, RantWoman would suggest we choose some guidelines already available on the internet or in electronic format so that she can prepare in advance. RantWoman would also suggest that others aim to prepare in advance and that we perhaps have ONE copy of the agreed guidelines to pass around or remind people as we work.
(RantWoman is seasoning a growing leading to campaign against quite the degree of xerox excess she notices all about her, definitely not only among Friends. RantWoman is still seasoning this concern!)
RantWoman put Clearness Committee into search engine of her choice and came up with a number of useful but occasionally conflicting suggestions ... . RantWoman would not mind if someone else wants to make a suggestion but the following format comes to mind.
Time for RantWoman and Dear Friend each to speak and clarifying questions
Time for group discernment
Time to record things that need to go beyond this committee and thoughts about next steps if any.
Dear Friend and RantWoman are both VERY clear that we do not want to spend time fighting between ourselves about matters that we believe are the whole Meeting's responsibility.
... Our clearness process may at the very least have to outline where we would draw those lines or need to see additional clarification. Dear Friend has expressed a preference not to discuss RantWoman's nomination to the committee in question right away; RantWoman absolutely does not think we can have a productive discussion about other points if that is completely out of the conversation. However, it definitely occurs to RantWoman to want not to fixate on bad stuff and to instruct the clearness committee to herd us off that if we do.
Also even though RantWoman thinks some of Dear Friends' concerns are WAY out of scope for a nomination discussion, RantWoman thinks we might especially want to be open to exploration if discussion seens to be going fruitfully toward one of these topics. As long as this is a clearness committee anyway, we might as well entertain the option of careful hypotheticals.
The process of composing the next phase of our request to those who are available has caused RantWoman to be clear about a few interesting points:
--Actually talking about RantWoman's needs / wants as far as accessible content and reasonable accommodations feels like an important milestone. RantWoman gets tired of feeling like she has to be accessibility spokesbabe. RantWoman is please actually that two of the people who wound up being available are people in a position perhaps to hear some of RantWoman's specific technical gripes though RantWoman has no expectation one way or another about what might come of that.
--RantWoman finds herself wondering whether one thing it would be good to have come of this clearness process is concrete points about how she and Dear Friend might work together more effectively, better support each other's spiritual condition, help each other cope with our different struggles, and laugh more robustly.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
What if Dr. Phil came to Business Meeting?
Item: RantWoman is getting herself to Meeting for Worship on time, despite recent brutal kinks in her Sunday bus schedule.
Dr. Phil: "How's that working out for you?"
Let's just say RantWoman watched a flock of late-comers, quite a number of whom come in cars, take their seats and ALMOST succumbed to an urge for mass eldering along the lines of "RantWoman can get herself here on time on the BUS. You all in your cars have no darn excuse for not getting your sorry behinds in gear in time." Let's just say, RantWoman was still seasoning this message when it was time for Meeting for Business.
Item: Meeting for Worship for Business opened with a reading about Quaker process: accessible, self-disclosing and transmissible, not on an ordinary secular timeline. RantWoman's reality check reflex kicked in; RantWoman can handle the possibility that Friends aspire to this, but today the reading just peculiarly evoked RantWoman's disaster prep and quiescent swine flu attentions and foreshadowed lunch conversation about said pandemic and PICU's full of sick kids.
Dr. Phil: "How's that working out for you?"
Don't Friends ever have to evacuate buildings quickly??? What about focussed timely response to global warming???? RantWoman is all for shared spiritual journeys, openness to unexpected guidance from the Divine, and laboring together under guidance of Spirit, but RantWoman can at least fathom the possibility that the Divine gets the divine act together a lot sooner than Quakers sometimes get their collective presence in the way of the right leadings. RantWoman is contemplating what if anything she can do to contribute to Friends getting in the way of the right leadings a little faster. Somehow she suspects more practicing scales might be involved. Ugh!
On further swine flu threads, RantWoman does not care how much hand sanitizer one spreads around. It's cold and flu season. RantWoman would genuinely prefer hot soup served by proper utensils rather than finger food for "Light Lunch." Alas, RantWoman now gets to follow up some email with further phone seasoning about a whole host of issues related to our Meeting's current practice of
1. Starting Meeting for Business at 11:30 after 1/2 an hour of our regular 11:00 worship hour
2. Breaking for lunch after an hour, telling the staffperson who usually prepares our bimonthly light lunch that those telling her want finger food not hot items, supposedly to save cleanup, and then returning to Meeting for Business.
RantWoman is REALLY not crazy about shorting our usual Meeting for Worship for Meeting for Worship for Business. RantWoman finds the current hurried lunch schedule both unfair to reasonable appreciation of what we eat and inimical to the kind of community interactions we HAVE to have somehow if we are actually going to connect after all that sitting together silently in expectant waiting. In fact, in case dear readers cannot tell, RantWoman is also about judicious and mindful use of time in all its different segments.
The current timing practice DOES result in better-centered Meeting for Business and people are even staying when they could first leave and coming back after lunch. But this still leaves the same problem RantWoman's meeting has historically had about how to handle timing and cleanup. If RantWoman were not still subjecting Dear Friend to / subject to Dear Friend's spirit-led discernment, she would have carte blanche to assist others on the topical committee in seasoning these problems. For the time being, RantWoman seems to be released to whine about the problem without so much expectation that she participate in some steps of solving it. Is RantWoman supposed to count her blessings here?
Item: Next, after Meeting for Business returns to worshipDear Friend offered sung ministry.
Dr. Phil: "How's that working out for you?"
Usually he sings better than that. RantWoman will pointedly NOT offer further comment, not even if people beg and grovel. Use your own darn imaginations.
Item: An announcement is made early in Business Meeting that last month's question will not come before Business Meeting this month. the Friend who is known for rolling his eyes in Meeting for Worship loudly enough to disrupt worship for people clear across the roomand clearing his throat worse than someone who has just drunk a gallon of milk came to Business Meeting. Historically, Dear Friend has been the person to elder Mr. Eye Roller. Of course the eye-rolling started the minute Dear Friend offered vocal ministry and again upon this news.
Dr. Phil: How's that working out for you?
For all the sense outside observers have been offered of the Nom Comm Situation, RantWoman would forgive anyone for wondering why there are not eyeballs rolling all around the room. Not that RantWoman can in fact tell without sound effects whose eyeballs are being rolled. Think of the sound effects as an accessibility feature?
Does RantWoman think rolling one's eyes as thundrously as Friend Eye Roller does reflects good, grounded, disciplined worship practice? Oh heck no! Friend Eye Roller is cheerfully impervious both to eldering and to ways to better explore and give voice to some occasionally incisive insights behind the eyerolling! Does RantWoman have any better clue this week than last week or last month or last year what might reach Friend Eye Roller? Also no. Friend Eye Roller desparately needs to belong. He also might benefit from connecting with a compatible female. RantWoman does the very best she can to help about the former; the latter is COMPLETELY beyond RantWoman's light.
Item: Other items of business transpire. RantWoman notes that Dear Friend volunteers to collaborate with someone who frequently comes up in conversation with RantWoman. If Dear Friend had not volunteered for this role, RantWoman was about to.
Dr. Phil: "How's that working out for you?"
Lunch occurs. RantWoman has grumbles and has to be grateful to have exactly the grumbles she has. She still has grumbles.
Item: the minutes of last month's Meeting for Business are reviewed. There is a whole section on a scale worthy of War and Peace about the part of the discussion neither Dear Friend nor RantWoman were present for.
Dr. Phil: "How's that working out for you?"
RantWoman has already had extensive discussion with the Clerk and Recording clerk and clerk of Nom Comm about these minutes. RantWoman would have preferred either using both her and Dear Friend's names or neither. RantWoman did not have capacity to find some rationale in Quaker past for this view. The clerk of Nom Comm send around an excerpt from one probably out-of-print pamphlet about the work of Recording clerks in translation of raw language into better seeking. RantWoman cannot tell whether the minutes benefited from interaction with this passage. In the end the clerk and recording clerk used only RantWoman's name. RantWoman supposes she COULD have had a long process exercise about this. For the time being RantWoman is merely parking the point with an eye, based also on threads of this past month's emails to another thread to be touched below.
RantWoman also noted in her email exchange, the tone of the minutes reminded RantWoman of a class she took in college. The class was one of a basket of choices related to Ethics and Engineering in the engineering school; humanities majors like RantWoman sometimes took the course out of interest and also provided valuable intercultural broadening of perspective. RantWoman notes resonance here with quirkiness cited in the minutes. If you've got it, flaunt it?
RantWoman was a little perplexed when she went to pick up her final paper for the class. The professor thought the paper was not great (he was right) but RantWoman got an A anyway because she asked so many questions that everyone else in the class got their paper topics from her questions. RantWoman guessed she was supposed to be flattered but the info did not really help her figure out how to write better papers.
In the case of the minutes, RantWoman completely unabashedly concurs both with Dear Friend's thought that they are not entirely on point and with the Friend who thought the section about RantWoman is at least three times too long. RantWoman also thinks the text in question was partly seasoning the wrong question, nothing like the ones RantWoman has been trying to interact with in terms of what sense she has been able to make of Dear Friend's interventions. RantWoman did not discern a strong leading to channel Dear Friend and have public exercise about the minutes. RantWoman also did not argue vigorously with the assertion that having a long exercise in two-month-old minutes will somehow be helpful in discernment we all promise next month. It's not that these points are unimportant to RantWoman; it's just that RantWoman suspects their relative importance will be reflected other ways in terms of whether people ever refer to them or not and has opted to trust in divine guidance as future readers may be lead to interpret them.
Final item: Dear Friend is clerk of another committee now. The last month's emails have generated a number of thoughts about things that might intersect with the work of that committee. Think Business Meeting nuts and bolts, minutes, ....
Dr. Phil: "How's that working out for you?"
Let's just say RantWoman and Dear Friend had better come out of a clearness process able to work together because otherwise RantWoman is going to have no darn leading, none at all to work on some topics that seem darned important in the life of the community. RantWoman is wondering what this means about what else she is supposed to want out of a clearness process.
RantWoman has been rereading some of her and Dear Friend's emails from the past month along with the interventions mainly of the clerk and Nom Comm. One topical comment: RantWoman has been clear for quite some time that matters between her and Dear Friend needed the Light of others. As questions and queries have gone back and forth, it also has become clear to RantWoman at least that Nom Comm also wants community Light even to interact with some points about the conflict between RantWoman and Dear Friend. RantWoman is especially trying to center about this point, not only because of her own twitches while process is in progress, but also on Dear Friend's behalf. This is an area where Dear Friend, while vehemently opinionated and certain of his own views, seems not to grasp that our community needs to do the work of getting to a collective opinion. RantWoman can only practice her own scales for now; tuning the whole orchestra is, to quote our President, "above my pay grade."
RantWoman is VERY carefully seasoning whether to redact and include excerpts of her own email writings in the blog. RantWoman thinks the arc of the conversation is interesting in its own right. However, RantWoman has to be careful because too much rereading can just get her back really easily to anger and stuck places. These would be the sort of stuck places where RantWoman is not automatically able to dialogue about anything and really does not even care about Quaker process or anyone else's PTSD or whether others around her even get what is exercising her. RantWoman actually thinks recognizing the dynamics of the anger and stuck places is important for herself and might also be a valuable part of community learning, but RantWoman is still thinking about the suitability of the info and the blogosphere for each other. Enough said on that topic for now.
It is SO clear to RantWoman at least that having other voices in the conversation has helped both RantWoman and Dear Friend. RantWoman is better able to sort and organize many threads of issues on her mind along with how to tackle them and who might need to be involved. RantWoman is also terribly grateful to share the task of seasoning Dear Friend's concerns, very obviously with community perspective, not just RantWoman alone and most assuredly beyond RantWoman's light or leading to tackle on her own.
Dear Friend is perhaps understandably put out that people perceive him as the heavy even though RantWoman has been very very clear that she too is being obstinate. In fact the whole problem could in fact be defined partly as two language geeks trying to get our terms straight. To make matters worse we are also trying to ask a body of people at least some of whom are clueless about what we are asking for to help. The task of framing what we are trying to practice and figuring out what to ask larger bodies for, RantWoman at least has delegated to God and others. RantWoman is quite certain she could muster opinions quickly, but what is the point of seeking Light if one is just going to get in the way of what Light might be available?
Dear Friend is Dear Friend. At some point RantWoman hit or more accurately slammed into some personal, somewhat obscured reasons she sometimes finds it difficult to hear Dear Friend in particular. RantWoman THINKS she told Dear Friend several times several ways that she was having trouble hearing him in particular. Anyway for the time being RantWoman hopes a Clearness Committee can help us sort our specifically personal twitches out better.
RantWoman seldom talks about the full emotional content of these matters so Dear Friend has no way of knowing the emotional landmines are there. Of course, the POINT of emotional landmines is that one does not always have a way of finding them in advance. At this point in life, for a few different reasons, RantWoman herself goes for long spells not thinking about her emotional minefields either, but perhaps one of the points of middle age is being able to pick up, revisit, and re-evaluate old twitches one might previously have had the emotional resources only to blunder through, not to analyze or to address. Yuuuuck. Yet another reason to like the Compost tag.
Dear Friend's emotional landscape also includes a number of features that may make it difficult for him to hear RantWoman. RantWoman realized this while scratching her head over one of Dear Friend's emails, particularly nonresponsive to RantWoman and full of personal points RantWoman at first felt anger even to have in the conversation and then came unexpectedly to see as unmistakable indications of tender points for Dear Friend. Sorry world, you do NOT get details about this with respect to Dear Friend, though RantWoman is weighing what she wants to share about herself.
But for now, the main thing RantWoman needs to share is a need to bathe and catch a bus.
In the Light
Saturday, November 7, 2009
In general, the interval between the fall time change and early January weighs on RantWoman's psyche like a giant rotting pumpkin, putrid, smelly and too darn heavy to move, even with the power of prayer. So far, these trials have not been more than RantWoman finally manages to bear, but if God asked, RantWoman would say, "don't push your luck."
This year, fall rains have come to Seattle unusually late. Often in RantWoman's past experience there have been weeks and weeks of fall rain, mist, moisture forever and ever without end amen. The leaves have come off the trees gradually in different phases but soon enough that one can actually find the streetlights by the time one needs them.
This year, not only are the storms late and the streetlights still badly obscured, the annual tempests are much more dramatic. The last couple days we have had just spectacular thunder, lightning, and the most wonderful cleansing cloudbursts. Unfortunately, the cloudbursts seem appallingly well correlated with times when RantWoman either must venture out or decides to brave the odds.
The thunderstorms are driving all the leaves off the different trees at once, in great piles that would be wonderful fun if one wanted to jump up and down and romp with small or large children. Piles of leaves are a lot harder to appreciate when one travels with Thwack the badly-behaved white cane, especially if one would like to go about nimbly, perhaps without the sensation that one is pushing the equivalent of a snow shovel full of soggy organic matter with Thwack's nose at every turn.
Yesterday RantWoman was aboard transit, warm and dry for the moment but still with more than enough emotional twitches to try for "shut up and pray." Immediately, almost before RantWoman had formulated the thought, the message came back "I heard you the first time." Yo, God, couldn't you at least manage "poor baby" or something?
Tomorrow is another Meeting for Business and those concerned with the aftermath of last month's Meeting for Business and the conflict between RantWoman and Dear Friend have been emailing and prodding back and forth. RantWoman means to extract some of her emails and to polish a couple half-baked items in the drafts section of the blog.
There IS conflict between RantWoman and Dear Friend. The core in a nutshell, sanitized for comfortable repetition version: RantWoman really, really, really needs to talk about her spiritual life with other people besides Dear Friend and RantWoman, frankly, speaking as plainly as she thinks she will be able to stand in public resents the hell out of Dear Friend's interventions because she experiences this as Dear Friend standing in the way of this. RantWoman thinks this is VERY bad personal boundaries and atrocious theology. RantWoman has a whole mess of other views about Dear Friend, sharing responsibilities with one's community and other things that unquestionably are unclear.
Every time RantWoman has to address the circumstances behind the Compost thread, she is reminded of this fact. However, RantWoman, Dear Friend and Nom Comm are all also clear that there is a problem with process. RantWoman is not sure that, if asked, we would all concur about the ways what process has previously been elaborated has broken down, but we are all clear that we need guidance and further Light from the rest of our community.
RantWoman and Dear Friend have duly set about the business of getting ourselves a clearness committee. Nom Comm, the Clerk, and, RantWoman supposes, the committee to which RantWoman was nominated but is not yet serving have set about trying to frame the issues that really, really, really are not just some weird freaky interpersonal thing between RantWoman and Dear Friend. RantWoman also notes that she has numerous other perspectives, to the point that if she cannot come to unity within her own views, she wonders what in heck it is reasonable to expect her Meeting to come to unity about either.
But for now, let us dump the links of the day,
a topical season of light and dark bit:
light and dark and natural grandeur on a grander and more problematic scale
More cool stuff including some links RantWoman definitely means to check out from Gathering in Light
And, finally, no, no, No, and HELL NO, dear RantMom. RantWoman is very grateful you are a cancer survivor. RantWoman deeply appreciates little electronic expressions of love and affection, even if they ARE SPAM, chain letters and relatives of vile internet vermin. NO, RantWoman is NOT going to contribute to the cancer of internet spam even for things like prayers to end cancer. Think of this as the internet equivalent of interferon or something, but NO, I will NOT forward it!