"So dear Friends live all in the peaceable Truth and in the love of it, serving the Lord in newness of life, for glorious things and precious truths have been manifested among you plentifully, and unto you the riches of the kingdom have been handed."
A sound recording of the lecture is here.
- Yearning to look outside the bounds of their own organizations to work together for something greater;
- Seeking support to be more fully alive in community. The work wasn’t necessarily supportive.
Q (J): Sometimes white people want people of color to tell their stories at meetings. But that often doesn’t work well.
Q (LD): I’m part of a small group of white people who meet to talk about racism. It’s a spiritual practice. One person said, “I used to be able to forget about racism. Now, not a single day goes by when I don’t think about it.” This is important work you’re doing. Can you do this work with national Quaker organizations?
A: (bows = yes) Q (O): Gravest sin is not to recognize the divine in others. My prayer is that we acknowledge the brokenheartedness in not seeing one another.
A: We all need refuge at times. And other times we nee to step out of refuge and into action.
Q (V): RSOF is either at a breaking point or a breakthrough point. How might we step into and through the difficult bits?
A: 1) Boundary between RSOF and outside is more permeable today. Revitalization can come from without as well as within. Patterns of exclusion can be worked on. 2) How do we get people the “psychic Wheaties” to enable them to do the hard work? Sometimes, we nee to ask for help—from elders, accountability partners. Celebrate small steps.
Q (S): Say more about the distance with your monthly meeting.
A: I did not feel the meeting was letting me down, more that I was busy, stuck in “facilitators mind” when at meeting for worship, and didn’t know how to invite people along with me. Feel closer to my meeting again, serving on a committee again.
Q: Point is to go forth, not to build meetings. Beatitudes turn everything upside down.
Q (A): I affirm that you choose to do this work. You could choose not to and still have a foundation and have people around you say you’re doing good work. This, this is important work. [Didn’t write much in the way of notes, because I responded to her emotion with my own deep emotion welling up. Definitely felt like a moment of Presence.]… Is there anything that you get angry about in this work? A: I don’t do anger well, but I’m kind of starting to get worked up: Why aren’t more of us doing this work in our culture? There, did I do better [in expressing anger]? [Niyonu shakes head, everyone says “No!” and we all burst out laughing together. Together!!]
[NOTE: I wrote this as a comment on Wess Daniel's post, "Thoughts on Bringing Children to Meeting for Worship."
[His article in turn also refers to Kathleen Karhnak-Glasby's excellent article in Friends Journal, "Bringing Children to Worship: Trusting God to Take Over from There."]
Green Street Monthly Meeting, our liberal unprogrammed Friends meeting in Philadelphia, is looking at how to better integrate the children with the rest of the meeting -- though I doubt we're ready to ditch Firstday School.
A commenter on Wess's post decried the practice in some unprogrammed meetings of having an occasional "all-ages" meeting that is poorly conceived, and a "poor hash." I can certainly imagine being in an otherwise-unprogrammed meeting that did a semi-programmed one poorly. However, I wanted to share some of my recent experience of the last two years.
Green Street has the children in Firstday School for the first 45 minutes (in two groups, elementary and middle school aged), and to worship the last 15 minutes. The teens generally come to meeting for worship.
On the 5th Sundays, a few times a year, we have a mostly programmed meeting for worship. It's definitely a hash, and a tasty one at that!
The one or two I've attended were led by a Friend who grew up expecting to be a minister in another tradition, so has some ability to lead worship; and more important, who is now a high school teacher, with a real gift for drawing young people at many different ages.
One 5th Sunday I missed featured my older son singing a Green Day song ("21 Guns") with his peers playing electric guitar. Since he has never sung with those peers before or since, I'm sorry I missed it. (And it's not like we're about to organize a worship band or something; I have personally never seen anything more high-powered than an acoustic guitar or a violin, usually around the year-end holidays, at this meeting myself.)
The warmth of the greetings at rise of meeting and expressions of joy following these semi-programmed meetings are enough to reassure me that we are saying something quite positive about our worshiping community. To me, it needn't imply anything negative about expectant waiting worship the other 48 Sundays a year.
Now I work in Center City Philadelphia, which I enjoy; I still miss downtown San Francisco sometimes.
This afternoon I'd been meeting with my boss when the fire alarm in our office went off. It was the most bureaucratic recorded emergency instructions I'd ever heard: "Leave the building! Cease operations! Do not utilize the elevator!"
On the sidewalk, I saw several people I knew, as there are two Quaker organizations in the same building where I work. One Friend asked if we could plant-sit again, and I said yes. She said she'd come over tonight with them. I enjoyed seeing her and the other people I knew. And my boss and I continued our meeting on the "front porch" of the Convention Center across the street from our office. It was a great day to be outside.
At home, we live in a section of Philadelphia that is considered one of the oldest "streetcar suburbs" in the country, yet it's most definitely within the city limits. But the trees are tall and mature, and the pace is calmer here than in Center City.
Tonight Son #1 and I had dinner on the back porch, and it was neither cool nor warm, just pleasant. Then we went (by car, alas) to an ice cream parlor for dessert. We sat on the bench right outside the shop on Germantown Avenue, and watched the clouds turn pink and then many shades of gray.
This afternoon he had helped another Friend pack up her moving truck. I had gone by last night with some of our remaining boxes, and to help with packing, and heard that she needed help while I'd be at work today. We moved twice in the last two years, so we owe the universe some help-with-moving karma. I asked Son #1 if he'd be willing, and he said okay. And it was close enough for him to walk—there's that living in the city again.
Robin called shortly after we came home to say hello. She will be one of the keynote speakers at Baltimore Yearly Meeting, on Friday evening.
While we were talking, the Friend came over with her plants. Well, it just so happens that she is a member of Robin's support committee, so I put the phone on speaker so we could both talk to her. In fact, our Friend gave Robin some really good advice and some very kind words of reassurance. I felt enormously blessed to be part of a community in this way.
It's good to remember my blessings. It is practical and useful, as well as probably healthier, to be grateful and to focus on what's good and how to be helpful and loving in life, it seems to me.
As I reflect on that time in my life, it's worth remembering why I went to college there in the first place: WPRB-FM.
Today, their slogan is simply, "Community-supported independent radio."
Back then, when I was in high school and then college, the slogan was even more simply, "Stereo 103.3."
Today they have a new studio in a new building, and I hope to drop in for the open house they're having. I will be pining for the basement of Holder Hall, a little bit. Not too much. Especially because if we turned up the speakers too loud, the students who lived on the first floor were liable to come down and lecture us. And it was pretty hot in the summer, with one window unit air conditioner stuck in the tech closet next to the studio, and pretty much venting into the rest of the station offices, making them often unbearable.
As the person who could well be the 25th or 26th successor to me as station manager says in this piece, "Playing music on WPRB is a way to reach out and commune with faces you may never hear, hands you may never feel, but hearts you have a few fleeting scrambling hours each week to try to touch. Ears whose drums you can scratch."
Thanks for scratching this Central Jerseyan's eardrums, 'PRB!
|That's me cueing up a Brian Eno record |
while taking a request at WPRB-FM,
probably in 1985 or 1986. The t-shirt
is from The Fall's tour in support of
their 1985 LP, "This Nation's Saving Grace."
The following piece by Christine was originally published in the school's "Circle Back" newsletter and is reprinted with the author's permission.
At the Meeting House
By Christine Hoang
SFFS Parent & Board Member
Saturday mornings, the Friends Meetinghouse on 9th Street begins its bustling day with deliveries from a wide variety of vendors. There’s the regular delivery from the San Francisco Food Bank, which drops off staples like pasta, bread, fresh fruits or vegetables from suppliers or farmers; deliveries from Food Runners which picks up fresh and prepared food items and pastries from specialty stores like Whole Foods; and a very special bread delivery from a volunteer named Al. Al spends his Saturdays gathering bread donations from Safeway and other stores and delivering his bounty to the Meetinghouse. Al’s bread delivery now accounts for over half of the bread distributed by the Pantry.
Three years, ago, when SFFS first began partnering with the Quaker Pantry, the Pantry served 60 – 70 people every Saturday; now, the Pantry serves well over 100. Clients are slotted into twenty-minute windows in which they can shop. Each client usually brings one or two bags to fill up with groceries for the week. For most clients, the Pantry is their only source of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as staples like bread or pasta.
SFFS families contribute to the Pantry in vital ways. Several families contribute financially, a commitment that has allowed the Pantry to feed another 25-35 clients a week. A few parents are also trained to work as shoppers, going to the Food Bank to order the week’s delivery, and filling in when volunteers are short. Most families though, contribute time. For the past three years, each SFFS grade has adopted a month in which families are responsible for staffing the Pantry. The day starts around 10:00am, when the first deliveries arrive. Working alongside delivery drivers and Meetinghouse volunteers, SFFS families unload crates and boxes off of food trucks and create a real store! Vegetables and fruits are placed into large bins or buckets, cans are sorted, pastries and perishable items are arranged delicately on tables, and loaves of bread are stacked into towers.
Another wonderful aspect of the project is that kids work alongside adults. As SFFS parent Tawni Sullivan has noticed, “Kids feel empowered by really owning their own jobs, not just helping the grown ups with theirs.” Younger kids blacken bar codes on donated bread, organize and stack cans, and count out the vegetables for clients. Older kids break down cardboard boxes and do the math necessary to ensure a fair allocation of food for everyone.
Around noon, the Pantry opens its doors and the first clients filter in. Most of the clients are elderly; many are monolingual Cantonese speakers; several are homeless. The Quaker Food Pantry affords them regular access to healthy, fresh food. During the shopping hour, all volunteers work at distributing food, handing out three oranges a piece, two onions, or a can or two. For Jen Maeder, “working side by side with your classmates and their families on a weekend really cements the SFFS tenets of community and stewardship. Playdates and soccer games are a great way to socialize with the school community on the weekends but there is something different about once in awhile rolling up your sleeves and working alongside your classmate on a weekend. To me, it shows my kids that I take seriously what they are learning about community and stewardship in school. It’s not something I just expect of them, but I am choosing it for myself as well.”
|This is my younger son at the food pantry in 2010, |
when it was just starting out.