More religion... Our meeting is trying this thing where you wait until someone brings a microphone to you before you speak.
This is to make things more accessible. It makes sense. I am loud but others are not. I can hear but others cannot.
I support accessibility. It means that people who speak very softly can still be heard. It means that people who can't hear well can still hear messages.
Only I am really not really that open about the presence of microphones in meeting for worship. I just want to be.
I wonder how many people who feel moved to speak will NOT speak because they don't want to be miked. I know it can be a chilling factor for me.
And I know that sometimes when people stand to speak, they wait until the message is fairly fit to burst out... and they cannot/will not/do not wait for the microphone to make its way across the floor.
Here was my experience today. It was unexpected.
I stood to sing. That was not unexpected. Well, let me rephrase that. Often in the past I would sit to sing without the microphone. But I am joining in the spirit of trying out this new thing. Also, for those of you who have met me, I can be a bit rule bound.
So I stood to sing.
This followed my usual pattern of hearing a song in my head over and over and over again like a mantra. And only after my heart starts to pound and my hands start to shake do I determine that is has "risen to the level of vocal ministry." So I stood.
Part of the reason that I did not stand in the past is that I am shaky by this time. It is hard to sing and stand and try not to shake. But I am trying to follow the rules.
So I stood to sing. And I waited for the microphone. And as I held the mic my voice crackled and I wanted to cough or clear my throat but I thought I might blow out the speakers.
And I was conscious of the spitty sound of my plosive consonants. And the hissing of the sibilants.
But mostly I was conscious that my hands were shaking. As I tried to hold the microphone. I was afraid I might drop it. I wondered about the theological implications of a mic drop during Quaker meeting.
I wrapped my hands tighter and spared quite a bit of energy to still the mic. Made it through the song. Sat down. Handed off the mic.
But instead of feeling calm, I got the shakes. For the rest of meeting. And partway into fellowship.
Usually I feel shaky, I sing, I feel calm. But I think I was unable to let go of that shaky quaky energy while I was singing since I had to focus so much of my energy on not dropping the microphone.
I told this to the microphone holder after meeting. An unexpected happening. But I thought she should know. She would of course have been willing to hold the microphone for me. As would any of the voluntary mic runners.
But I didn't know this was a service I would have required. Would not have requested it. Or welcomed it, I don't think. It might have felt oddly intrusive to have someone holding a mic for me. As if I were being interviewed.
For all that "vocal ministry" is public speaking... or public singing... it is intensely personal. And somehow private. And having someone else holding the microphone doesn't strike me as something that would feel right.
I want the messages of the light within to be available to all. I want there to be one easy answer. I looked to see what other Quaker communities are doing. Essentially they are saying, "There is no easy answer."
I could have told them that.
Warning: this is gonna be a post about religion. My own weird brand of nontheist Christian Quakerism. I'm not a very bible person. I am (just to confuse people) a Jesus person. As a heathen/atheist/nontheist/nonbeliever it is somewhat incomprehensible to most people (Christian and non) that Jesus is one of my favorite historical figures.
For whatever reason, I was drawn early on to messages that Jesus had in the bible. And that he studied and was a scholar and a teacher and thought deeply about things that everyone else just took for granted. He was a skeptic. Not a rule follower. Kind to people who were different. But in a way that made him kind of a pain in the ass, too.
It was unimportant to me whether he said exactly those words written in the bible in red letters. Because it seems pretty likely that what through hundreds of years of oral tradition and multiple translations there is very little we know about what precisely this Jesus fellow said. The messages are what drew me. And the character (as in a figure in literature) of Jesus.
Right. What a preamble.
Here is the meat of the story. During meeting today there were a number of surprisingly bibleful messages. The one going on in my head, that didn't rise to the level of vocal ministry was something nebulous about "take up your cross and follow me." I kept thinking about the implications of lugging around the instrument of my death... and maybe that is something that we carry with us... but whatever nebulous thought it was it didn't make it to any sort of coherent message.
But then there was a bibleful message from someone else, who had been pondering the idea of a yoke being easy and a burden being light...
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28)
And the idea that what if "light" as in the light of god, or the light within or that of god within everyone (Quakerspeak) is a BURDEN.
What if it isn't that the burden isn't heavy, but that carrying this light within is a burden? What if it is our lot to carry this light and bear it to other people.
I have not felt light lately. Not felt much connection with the light either. So perhaps the idea of light as a burden appealed to me.
Light is my burden.
A week ago Friday the students did not set fire to the lab. Here was their assignment: create a procedure to measure the water content of 3 different brands of popcorn. They needed to pop 12 batches of popcorn using bunsen burners, tin cans, tinfoil and vegetable oil.
The main purpose of this was to see if they could follow multi-step directions, pay attention to lab safety and use precise measurements to record and analyze their data.
So naturally the first hour class cranked their bunsen burners up to 11 and within minutes the whole lab was filled with choking fumes and grey clouds of smoke... and the fire alarm did not go off... but the entire administrative staff from the school came running!
I had (naturally) forgotten to bring my inhaler and kept stepping outside the room to try not to have an asthma attack. (Success)
By the time the head of building and grounds, safety and security, the master teacher for science, several mentor teachers and our director showed up... there was nothing burning anymore. There was just the horrible smell. Throughout the entire building.
Because the fume hood vents from the 2nd floor (where the lab is) right up to the intake for the third floor. Which made a lot of kids really nervous that the building was on fire and maybe they should all leave even though the alarms were not going off.
So the head of security said, "Let's get these kids out of here!" and started marching off down the hall. And no one followed her. We just stood there kind of confused... because nothing was happening anymore. And everyone was safe.
She came back and said, "Well, we are NOT doing this lab again."
To which our director said, "Oh YES we will. We are doing this lab next hour! THIS is SCIENCE!"
I love my job.
I don't know my relatives well. I have a fair number of them. But I am not really a people person. And we are Scandinavian Minnesotan. So that's my excuse. I don't know my relatives well, and I am not a people person, but I write... and it is through my writing that I came to know one of my relatives better.
My aunt married my mother's oldest brother. He died the same year I was born. The same year his daughter was born. I met her in person twice. Once I traveled with my parents and my brothers on a cross-country trip from Minnesota to California.
We were the cousins who don't know that when it is cold and it is May you don't swim in the ocean. We were the cousins who were amazed at snails on the sidewalks (an older cousin crushing them beneath his feet just as we would step on ants). We were the cousins who could not imagine windows without screens. What must it be like to live in a place where you didn't need to keep the insects out? We marveled at strawberries the size of our fists. We laughed when people apologized for the "bad weather" when it was not picture postcard sunny.
That was the first time I met my aunt. I remember that she was kind. And that when she wanted to wear a shirt that was wrinkled, she put it back in the dryer to see if that would take the wrinkles out. I share this with her. I have as one of my core values that I will do whatever it takes not to iron my clothing. I discovered, by the way, that if it comes out of the dryer wrinkled, I can spray it with water and hang it overnight in the bathroom. I remember my aunt when I do this.
The second time I met my aunt I was in my twenties. My parents were divorced. I did not yet have children. I remember less from that visit. I remember my mom taking pictures. I remember my cousin was there. And some friends. I remember laughing.
My real connection to my aunt, though, came through writing. Through this.
She read my blog religiously. And although she did not react to each and every thing I wrote, she reacted to the ones that mattered... she said the things I needed to hear.
You are an amazing person. You have such a gift. You are strong. You are your mother's daughter. I can tell where you get your sense of humor.
And even when I was not having a hard time, she would comment on how much she enjoyed my writing and getting to know me through my words.
When I began selling my beadwork on ETSY, she was my first customer. She purchased a monarch butterfly pin that she framed and displayed in her house.
I do not know my relatives well. We are not close. Not even the ones who live near me. But I felt close to my aunt. And I will miss her.
Setting the bar low for this, my first post in nearly a month. Nothing too terribly exciting. Which is good. I don't think that I am doing terribly well, but not terribly badly either I expect. I am near weepy plenty of the time. For no particular reason. And I don't have much mental or physical energy to do things around the house other than making sure that me and mine are fed and clothed. Bathed is a bonus.
It is the end of the first quarter of the school year.
I love my job.
This seems like I am being sarcastic. I am not. I just feel very disjointed and not capable of writing some lovely fluid piece at this time.
I got peopled out recently, I think. I don't do well with crowds. I don't like interacting with people I don't know. And in the last few weeks
We had parent/teacher conferences
I went to a statewide teachers' convention for professional development
I PRESENTED at a statewide convention for ESL teachers.
After each activity I was basically rendered comatose for the next several days.
The presenting thing was particularly draining. The thing went fine, I think. Good information. Well received. Only, I was working on my presentation materials up to the last minute, had printer problems (involving individual UNNUMBERED sheets of my presentation flying all around the living room moments before I wanted to be out the door) and soooo... instead of being at the venue well in advance, I arrived with barely enough time to set up before my presentation began.
Then came the portion of the ordeal when everything went fine. I don't have a problem speaking in front of people. This is what makes me a fine speaker for the NAMI In Our Own Voices program.
But AFTER... I got confused about what time I was supposed to finish. And the fact that I finished four minutes over was not so bad. The fact that I didn't KNOW when I was supposed to finish caused me to have heart palpitations. Ridiculous. Who cares? It is an internal matter-- internal to me. Because the presentation, as stated, went fine. People liked it. If they needed to leave on time, they did. If I was confused about the ending time, that was just a funny quirk. But it was super disorienting. And I felt deflated and horrible.
Wanted to NEVER SEE OR TALK TO ANYONE EVER AGAIN.
This is what we lovingly (and sarcastically) refer to as a "measured response."
Then Halloween. I made stuff. The kids went trick or treating. My mom claimed that even if I never wanted to deal with people again, people in costume didn't count. And she wasn't really wrong. It wasn't horrible. I just walked around my neighborhood with my mom and my daughter-- who was the only one in her crew who did not have a meltdown.
At least not on the night of Halloween.
She has proceeded to have meltdowns nearly every day following Halloween. Sleep and sugar. I'm sure that sleep and sugar do not come into play at all here. Lord knows, they have no affect on me.
I have been subsisting on sugar and sleeplessness. And prone to meltdowns. I can draw no parallels.
Stay tuned for the following episodes:
Burning down the science lab (not really)
Farewell to a faraway relative
meds 200 mg lamotrigine
presented for NAMI In Our Own Voices
Quaker, teacher, parent,