My second trip went pretty well, I think. Both of my recent weekend trips were Quaker-related, and closely tied in to the leading I've been processing in the past few months. Both of these trips have required travel all day Friday, intense meetings on Saturday and part of Sunday, and long travel back to my busy life here. So I haven't had a real restorative kind of break in a long time. Yet, having these trips behind me is itself kind of restorative. I learned important things. I need time to process what I've learned and factor it into my continued discernment of this leading.
One of the general issues that emerges for me from these meetings is related to issues for me back at home as well: everyone is so busy. Part of what I've been trying to do in many dimensions of my life is to see if Concerned Academics and Concerned Quakers (two distinct groups but with some overlap) can work effectively together in mutually supportive and mutually inspiring ways to really try to address the world's problems. I am surrounded by friends and Friends who keep saying they want to do something, but when it comes right down to it, no one really has time to follow through with anything concrete.
So, how does everyone spend their time? Is their work already constructive and important? Are their days already spent in the work that quietly knits our broken world back together? To some extent, yes. I really want to trust the Concerned people I know to be doing their best. I want to trust that their normal lives are already doing much good in the world. It seems to be the case.
And yet, and yet ... they are stressed; they feel overworked and exhausted; they feel ineffective; they feel restless with the thought that they should be doing something that more directly addresses whatever it is about the world's problems that most distresses them. They long for community, support, and inspiration themselves.
I appear in their midst and try to facilitate the kinds of discussions that can help people connect and inspire, and give people hope. But despite my best efforts, the gravity of the problems depresses everyone and they start quibbling with each other, and vying with me, because I'm discussion facilitator. I become a kind of lightning rod for projection. Anxieties get draped over me and then vied with. I try to stay strong. I sort of succeed. Something shifts. A not unhealthy resignation settles. Everyone seems humbled. A sense of new and deeper faith starts to crystallize.
On my long journeys home, I cry, feeling spent. It has been hard work. Spiritual struggling. I sense that something important is happening. I think that this is a real leading, because it won't let me go, even though I keep trying to let it go.
I cannot tell what exactly is happening, or where it will go. I cannot tell if other people have been as profoundly affected as I have been, or if this is just part of my own story: a story of how a shaking soul finds strength.
I feel kind of good about all that has happened, but troubled too. It is not a troubledness of doubting that I have been as faithful as I am capable of being -- I think it is the troubledness of realizing that intending to make a positive difference in a broken world is a very serious matter, full of risk and danger. But I don't feel afraid. I feel grimly aware. I feel open-eyed.
I feel held in a prayer that is not of my making.
5 years ago