This message is not meant for you. In Quaker meeting, when a person is moved to speak, it is called "vocal ministry." and in the Quaker tradition that I practice (unprogrammed), there are meetings when there is no vocal ministry. Other times there is a LOT.
Today at the close of meeting, the person closing meeting reminded us that not all messages are intended for all people. They might be for the whole meeting, or a small group within the meeting, or one particular person in the meeting.
Frustratingly, they might not be intended for the person who is delivering the vocal ministry.
A message really resonated with me this morning. It had to do with a story about Thomas Merton and Zen Buddhist D. T. Suzuki. They discussed this story:
A group of hermits are robbed of their possessions by a thief. They track down the offender, bring him to jail and then wonder if they did the right thing. So they ask an old hermit if they had acted properly. He yelled at them for being bad hermits.
Suzuki disagreed with the old hermit. The thief should be in jail. Merton agreed that thieves should be put in prison, but monks should not put them there.
And that in these times when people are in such distress, when anxieties are high that there might be things that needed doing, but that Quakers should not do them. It was an interesting thought. And I wondered what implications this might have.
Then I wondered if this message was perhaps not for me. Very few things I do could be considered things that Quakers aught not to do. Not that I am some paragon of virtue, but I am quite dull. Boring. Yawn.
What I kept thinking about during meeting (when most of the messages revolved around issues of peace in the Middle East and the fate of Jeruslem) about this woman who stared too long at the sun during the eclipse.
She looked at the sun when a crescent was still showing for around 6 seconds. Then she noticed someone wearing what she thought was protected glasses, borrowed those, and looked for another 15 seconds. Later she noticed that her vision was affected.
After a week passed and still she could not see properly, she went in to see her eye doctor. And they found a perfectly burned little crescent of sun on the back of the retina of her dominant eye.
And I thought of Lot's wife and the pillar of salt. And the power of looking toward what we should not.
And I thought what things are there that I should not look at for too long? What things are there that I should not do?
My news feed is full of well-meaning liberal folks calling for meaningful action. Perhaps of the kind that Quakers Ought Not Do. Are there things that I feel will protect me? Like the shaded glasses that turned out not to be strong enough to shield her eyes from the sun?
There is nothing I am reading that says I can look away.
But if I keep staring, I am only damaging myself.
This past weekend I participated for the third time in the Women's Art Festival in Minnesota. I really enjoy the festival. The art there is amazing. And I can just barely sustain the energy required to be "on" from 9:30 - 4:30 and engage with people.
I put out all my bead work, had a bunch of pieces to finish, and sold enough to cover my booth fee and then some. So a success. Plus, aside from the obvious energy-sapping nature of the art festival retail situation... it was nice to hear so much positive response to my beading.
Elder boy had his first swim meet on Friday. It is really fun to watch. I can't wait until I can understand what is going on at the swim meets.
Quaker, teacher, parent,