Saturday, March 24, 2012

Threads: Kenya, and...

RantWoman thanks Elizabeth Bathurst over at The Quaking Harlot  for the temptation to go read about Thread Groups at the upcoming World Gathering.

RantWoman's general observations:

If RantWoman were going to travel thousands of miles to be in the presence of Friends she does not see every day, RantWoman THINKS she might like specifically to choose sessions either led or co-led by Friends from Africa or Latin America, especially Friends who might have barriers to regular swims in the global electronic infoglut. RantWoman is considering whether to be crabby about the comparatively small percentage of threads for which this is true.

In that vein, RantWoman also considered being crabby about a sense of the global North bringing lots of missionary topics to Africa. RantWoman considered being crabby but has decided that sometimes when seeds fall in new ground growth is especially lively and perhaps having different ears would cause a new sense of spiritual flourishing. In this case, RantWoman might specifically wait and see which of such workshops seemed to draw a range of Friends.

Oh heck, maybe RantWoman would do well to start with something centered in prayer and spiritual practices.

But RantWoman already kind of has a ministry of multicultural meetings so maybe seeing how Arthur Larrabee's workshop on clerking plays out would be just the thing.

RantWoman always seems to have a flair for the practical and is impressed by the thread groups on Food Security, the Quaker UN Office, and Violencia en Latin America, or Water Giving Life as well as how Quakers are working around the world oh and several other topics.

Wait, sometimes at gatherings the blessings of a rich banquet of choices mena RantWoman winds up deciding among wonderful items on an overflowing menu simply based on which building she is in when she has to make a decision or which group she has figured out the location for. This applies certain understandable parameters to leaving things in the hands of God, but it's still basically leaving things in the hands of God.

Sometimes when RantWoman goes to an event without a clear leading, something crystalizes early on to help her decide about key points.

RantWoman has done enough ad-hoc interpreting around Quaker events to have put willingness in that direction on her application even though RantWoman has done nothing to help way open to get herself there to be available. BUT if RantWoman were called to interpret, she might make some effort to prepare in advance for some or another topic. Alternatively RantWoman might try to help facilitate match between interpreter fluency about different topic and corresponding thread groups.

Bottom line: RantWoman of course like thousands of other Friends around the world might very much like to BE in Kenya for the World Gathering. RantWoman would like this, but RantWoman would have had to do a good deal more to have way open than she has done. Most of the time, RantWoman is fine and centered about this reality, but this would not be RantWoman without an occasional sigh! And then RantWoman will be clear to center where she is for now. And then RantWoman will center. And then....

RantWoman will be holding everyone who actually has to choose and their discernment process in the Light. RantWoman will especially be holding in the Light an atmosphere of listening and hearing across lines of language and culture and tradition and particular the interpreters with language gifts called to be bridges.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Manzanar Anniversary: Remembering Again

RantWoman's morning blog roll served up this wonderful compendium of information about Manzanar, one of the internment camps where Americans of Japanese heritage were interned during World War II including Gordon Hirabyashi formerly of RantWoman's Meeting:

Those of you who just need a shot of history are urged to stop here and concentrate on the link above.

Those of you game for another ride at the RantWoman spiritual amusement park and willing to hang with RantWoman on her bumpy walk to try to stay even half as centered as Quaker greats are invited to hold in the Light the following two redacted exchanges between RantWoman and others in her Meeting:

Call me up and I'll Figure it Out For You Friend: "RantWoman, you talk too much! You talked 5 times on one Sunday between worship and Meeting for Business."

RantWoman: "To be honest, I would be so grateful if words for some of what is on my mind were given to others. I remember 3 of the times. One was a memorial message because it was shortly after Gordon Hirabyashi died. That message was way more centered and centering than the one I was seasoning on the bus. (The one on the bus is getting to be an eruption on the line between a psychological issue and "quaking" but RantWoman was clear it's a message for another day.)

Another was timely because it was the start of what was and continues to be a difficult legislative session, RantWoman is an officer of FCWPP and it's reasonable to hold things in the Light. The third was topical to an item of business which RanWoman will elaborate about elsewhere. So talk to me about the other two times."

Call Me up and I'll Figure it Out for You Friend: "Fine. Good-bye."

RantWoman later, Urk, was one of the other times a RantWoman outburst about Quakers who nod but don't even grunt? RantWoman had such an outburst at one Business Meeting. Friends had all nodded with no verbal indication about approving some comparatively minor decision. RantWoman just had one of her spells and did not even wait for the clerk to recognize ministry about bus drivers who nod and grunt and Quakers who do not even grunt.

RantWoman was rewarded with an observation from Put it Off Until It's More Convenient Friend number N or N+1 who previously displayed no capacity to interact with the impact of RantWoman's vision loss at a critical moment, RantWoman has no idea which pronouncing the comment "appropriate." Call Me up and I'll Figure it Out For You Friend should probably be grateful that Worse Auntie did not show up with a tirade about "Appropriate? Who the heck are you to tell the Holy Spirit what is 'appropriate?' I cannot DO your definition of appropriate and you aren't even willing to talk about what would work so APPROPRIATE THIS?" Sometimes the Lord is merciful to everyone.

Blessedly, several weeks later, New Friend who thinks Unitarians are not Very Good at Silence: "RantWoman, Thank you so much for mentioning Gordon Hirabyashi. I saw the obituary but I only went home and read it after your message."

Sunday, March 18, 2012

DRAFT, not the bedbugs this time

RantWoman thanks those drafting this year's State of the meeting report for NOT sending out a draft ahead of Business Meeting and for NOT making xeroxed copies to distribute during Business Meeting. For one thingcutting back on the photocopying is very ecological. RantWoman also thanks everyone for sharing her frequent experience of not having access to documents and feeling somewhat at sea during oral presentation. RantWoman would so not mind having something more cheerful to share. No, scratch that: RantWoman is perhaps inappropriately delighted that someone else so generously provided the community this form of blindness tourism.

RantWoman realizes that time was when EVERYONE coped with such. RantWoman is not nostalgic. RantWoman quite used to LIKE being able to read the text along with someone reading it aloud. RantWoman sometimes becomes QUITE cranky when everyone else in a meeting is rifling through paper, scanning and skimming for forgotten nuggets. RantWoman would mind less if other people also found the nuggets she considers important, but the Holy Spirit has not been serving up such insights nearly as much as RantWoman is certain should occur.

RantWoman notes, the bedbugs only promise to publish on Leap Days. RantWoman does not expect further transmissions until next leap day. This does NOT mean RantWoman can restrain herself from a generous contribution of suggested edits for the draft read in Business Meeting. Except for contributions about one topic, RantWoman REALLY wants to leave wordsmithing in the able hands of this years drafting team. RantWoman SAYS this! Will she manage it?

RantWoman seeded the process with the items below. A new draft has been emitted by email and RantWoman REALLY likes that a concern about good Quaker laundry lists devoid of spiritual content has been well heard. RantWoman likes many other aspects of the proposed draft. It deviates from RantWoman's thoughts below. RantWoman promises to publish the version which comes to Business Meeting in April. A few topics RantWoman is trying to convince herself she is FINE, just FINE about others editing:

Remodeling was a very big theme in RantWoman's meeting. First was financing, and fundraising. Then there were bids and construction plans. Then there was lots of moving things to and fro, stashing things in corners of the meetinghouse, other upheavals during the actual construction. There were delays. People got cranky. It was kind of a summer of discontent followed by much delight. We are especially pleased by two new public
bathrooms including one that is wheelchair accessible on the main
level with our worship room and social hall. Alas, after all this work we are still vexed about temperature control with our thermostats and about the
sound system.

Friends from our Meeting also bring our Light to other Quaker
organizations including the Friends Committee for WA Public Policy,
the regional executive committee of the AFSC, FCNL, the FWCC Section of the Americas, as well as our Quarterly and Yearly Meetings and a large number of other service and public witness activities.

RantWoman remembers her remonstrances about statements made on her behalf about email last year and offers this item this year:

We find ourselves challenged about discernment, information flow, and movements of Spirit through email, an up-to-date website, blog posts, and social networking. Some among us find these new means of communication
greatly simplify communications even at great distance; others find
these tools tiresome and overwhelming. Sometimes the groups of fans
and grumblers overlap.

The part that RantWoman is really picky about, even though the phrasing reflects places RantWoman WISHES were the sense of the Meeting, moments where RantWoman's instinct is to tell more of the Truth than others necessarily care to, and moments well endorsed in a round of email about the "How's your sex offender?" questions that come up when Friends from RantWoman's Meeting go abroad into the world of Friends:

We are in our second decade as a worship community that openly includes our Meeting children and families, survivors of sexual abuse, and past sexual offenders.

We use a number of standard safety practices related to our children. A trained sexuality educator offered a session in our adult education
hour on talking with our children and each other about difficult
topics, including abuse. Meeting for Worship immediately following this session was especially rich in honest and therefore complicated vocal ministry on themes arising from Friends' earlier discussions. We strive to make space to hear the widely varying needs expressed by individual abuse survivors. Sometimes we find even the process of speaking about and listening, of learning how to hear very difficult.

Another conversation thread is about a formal Support and Accountability Committee and other changes for an offender who is nearing the end of his Department of Corrections supervision.

A member of our Meeting and her husband held a striking Q & A session. The husband was a longtime inmate facilitator in Alternatives to Violence programs and member of a former prison worship
group under care of our Quarterly Meeting. He was released after a long prison term and has also become part of our community. Each new step walking with all these Friends offers our Meeting opportunities to grow and to deepen our spiritual community.

RantWoman has extensive tirades about the whys of her preferred phrasing; RantWoman is PROBABLY just going to have to let go of her proclivity toward tirades. Probably! Please hold all efforts about the State of RantWoman's Meeting in the Light.

Last year's version for reference:

Friday, March 16, 2012


RantWoman recently wrote in a discussion of people's passing away on one of her Salt and Light Forums, "In our Meeting there are some people who are not acquainted with God or not acquainted with God in so many words, except that every day, every act of their lives is a realization of the Holy Spirit."

RantWoman in those words was remembering Mrs. Really Good Questions Friend whose passing was memorialized recently. Mr. Really Good Questions Friend says things like "I was born Marxist" and "my spiritual life is music, art, and revolution." Mrs. Really Good Questions Friend just did and did not talk about.... At the memorial for instance, someone told a story about Mr. Really Good Questions Friend and another guy on a boat. Someone's hat blew away and got stuck on an outstretched part of the boat. Mrs. Really Good Questions Friend just climbed up and retrieved the hat while the two guys were still chattering.

Mr. and Mrs. Really Good Questions Friend might also be called Magnetic Grandkids Friends, one of those sociological categories where individual couples hover in RantWoman's mind on the boundary between real people and statistics. They moved to Seattle several years ago to be near their daughters and grandkids, and quickly found Friends Meeting a rich source of community. RantWoman's esteem zoomed shortly after they arrived when they showed up at Seattle's Martin Luther King Day march, something RantMom for instance has yet to do.

Time was when RantWoman would fly into a lather about referring to a woman only in terms of her husband. RantWoman has plenty of other lather these days. Plus RantWoman would need equal opportunity lather: RantWoman finds it easiest to refer to Mr. Nasturtiums in Salad Friend, rather than say Mismatched Sock and Trombone Friend. For both people, the reference to a spouse reflects high estimation of longstanding obvious deep love between a married couple.

Mrs. Really Good Questions Friend majored in Home Economics and Design in college and the memorial program had wonderful elegant pictures both of her as young woman and of the two of them. Mr. Really Good Questions Friend says one of the pictures is how she will always look to him.

One of their daughters also shared Mrs. Really Good Questions Friend's love of elegant footwear. RantWoman was touched. RantWoman only very occasionally encounters footwear that is elegant and suitable for RantWoman's feet but RantWoman when she finds such will do the best she can to keep walking in Mrs. Really Good Questions Friend's footsteps.

As another blogger writes:
"It seems to me that death does not end relationships, it merely changes the rules of conversation."

Monday, March 12, 2012


That's Where's The Faith? to the rest of you.

This post would be?

1. RantWoman confessing a spell of censorship. RantWoman did indeed recently censor an otherwise perfectly wonderful picture of a student in one of the Friendly Neighborhood Center for Extreme Computing classes because RantWoman detected that the graphic on his T-shirt started out O M G W T F. The communication effort RantWoman was working on was intended for consumption by elected officials. RantWoman decided the elected officials have enough exposure to the conventional meaning from other sources. The Where's the faith formulation would, alas, in spite of that of God in everyone be highly unhelpful here. O M G W T F?

2. Exaltation that a lot of young people seem to be headed toward Quaker engagement without even knowing it:

RantWoman thus inspired and fortified will resume her officially not sectarian That of God in a lot of people who do not look like her work activity for the week!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tact, Diplomacy, Integrity, Eldering, Accessibility, Communion

Dear Eye Roller Friend,

Many among us are grateful your new bicycle to Meeting regimen is getting you to Meeting in time for you and God to show up and shut up at 9:30 worship just like everyone else. We know how much you appreciate silence and we hope you are finding that worship nourishing.

Thank you also for sharing with RantWoman your side of the latest written round of communications between you and a certain committee. To be honest, RantWoman could find ample grounds to concur with the tone of your side of the correspondence. That, of course, would be part of the problem.

So, um, you do realize, RantWoman MIGHT not be the best person to come to for advice on the tact and diplomacy front? Right? For instance, in terms of you and God getting words line up to hold the obviously interesting seking going on in your head in ways others know how to share, RantWoman is unpersuaded that your most recent letter is the way to start. RantWoman is not at all sure what to suggest but she definitely recommends sitting further with the problem.

RantWoman is all about what one blog commenter calls Diversity in Prayer. RantWoman herself is former Clerk of the Committee on Doing Sudoku in Meeting for Worship Committee over at the Association of Bad Friends. Lately that committee has been subsumed into the all-purpose Be Present with Distress, Difficulty, and Discomfort--And Like It Committee.

This seems to be an equal opportunity, single standard of Truth, testimony on equality something in it for everyone committee. In this case, something in it for everyone definitely includes you and an exhortation to consider what else besides silent worship you need to take care not only of your soul but of circles of struggle and seeking around you. RantWoman would actually suggest two things: specific study of and social interaction about some form of shared reading and a hearing test. RantWoman would suggest this but she is too busy being self-absorbed herself to go into further detail here.

RantWoman definitely continues at least some of the time to esteem your ministry of audible eye rolling as a really nice accessibility feature. RantWoman's experience is that the communion of waiting worship is actually fairly interactive, as Friends take up and hand off the message, sometimes verbally, sometimes in gestures and glances.

RantWoman has the impression that Light in individual messages arrives unevenly. Lots of people roll their eyes, and some even do so joyfully during Meeting for Worship RantWoman definitely feels more included when some of the eye-rolling comes with sound effects. RantWoman, though, is more than willing to sacrifice this particular connection in hopes that you are getting what you need from the silence in the other worship.

Plus RantWoman still needs you and more so everyone else to get some big points about accessibility--so RantWoman is again clawing her way past the clucking about you into more conversation on her own behalf.

For one thing, RantWoman is spending her energy dealing with another accessibility conundrum. RantWoman's nerves get fried when she is in rooms full of lots of people talking in pairs. RantWoman has talked to a number of people both sighted and blind who have this problem.

Unlike people who are merely monolingual, RantWoman has considerable ear for different rhythms and tones of different languages. Whereas monolingual people are bothered by people speaking in other languages nearby, at least part of the time, RantWoman finds this helpful. RantWoman's brain just filters rhythms and tone patterns she cannot understand.

RantWoman is also aware of some in her community who LIKE lots of talking in pairs, talking one on one where both parties can lipread. God bless these folks. RantWoman knows they are miserable in large meetings because they cannot hear. They cannot hear whether or not the Meeting sound system is turned on and working. They cannot hear whether or not they have or are using hearing aids. They cannot hear, but they can lipread. God bless them.

And we are not even going to go further into matters of shared vocabulary in words, in experiences, PERHAPS with enough mirror neutrons at least part of the time to interact without preconceptions or implanted prejudices of one's own with the reality of others' experiences without having to go there oneself. But RantWoman is getting ahead of herself.

What is really vexing RantWoman right now, though, is a yearning for gathered Meeting for worship for business, for Friends listening deeply, for people to come to new understandings as different people offer testimony as to shared questions, for the kind of verbal communion where everyone partakes and everyone's words flow into something new. RantWoman is finding herself nostalgic for elementary school where everyone is to share one at a time, not with the whole class in a hubbub at once.

RantWoman thinks, okay she is just going to say it, that movements of the holy spirit are a little bit being stifled by Friends' desire to go to lunch. Now what?