I have already discussed my lack of community as a child. This was particulary so as far as a spiritual community. My grandparents, whom I am still very close to, taught me through example, not by dictating to me. My grandmother has always been recognized in many circles, from Quakers, to social justice movements, to library affairs, to gardening as actively living out her beliefs. My grandfather is often overlooked as the "husband" of this amazing woman. He is dismissed because he often makes puns and off-color jokes, and likes to flirt with the younger women (and when you are in your 80's that is just about everyone) and makes jokes about how he's old, slow, and has no memory(he's been doing this for as long as I have known him...its an act). But it is my grandfather who quietly "lets his life speak" and who I would like to humbley emmulate. He makes off-color jokes about things he cares about, he is the dirty old man that was a feminist long before most men would admit to such at thing (and how many do now a days that aren't just trying to get laid?). He is kind, treats everyone with respect and dignity. He truly cares about the state of things. And well, he loves chocolate too.
When I first went to college, I wanted community. I was accepted to a scholarship program for Quakers...I wanted a spiritual community and a social community. I found it. I have deeply tied friendships from that time that seem to easily pick-up regardless of how long it has been since we last spoke, this is true of my capital F-friends and small f-friends. But I also saw hypocrisy in action too. But we can save that rant for another day.
I think that many of my elders see me as somewhat of a "bad" quaker if there is such a thing. Not because I don't follow my leadings or that I have somehow decided to dedicate my life to the pursuit of something that harms the greater whole, but because I have too many "swords" yet to lay down. I am an alcohol drinking, cigarette smoking, explicative stringing, caffine-addicted, tattooed child. Oh, and its been like a year since I went to meeting. So I don't do corporate worship, I have worship with god and my bed on sunday mornings, but I know god is always with me. You may not be able to count on me to go to meeting and be a "good" quaker, but you can count on me to speak the lord's truth (when I let in the spirit).
So is being a good Quaker about laying down your "swords" and giving yourself to the divine or is it about "letting your life speak," even if that life is speaking/drinking/smoking like a sailor on shore leave...I truly believe life is about your daily interactions with others, the evironment, and all living creatures. Its not about going to meeting every week (though that is important, to keep your self centered to do good Works), its not about reading religous texts, its not about airing your Quaker resume, or your "this is why I am cool (also insert, indie rock, emo, anarchist, peacenik, or hardcore awesome in anyway) resume," its about treating all with dignity and respect.
So if you want I can give you my resume of coolness, or you can keep reading and make up your own minds...too see if I am a "good" or "bad" quaker. But don't hold your breath for me to go to meeting or finish reading the bible, or even lay down some "swords" anytime soon. Because I am bad ass. That isn't true... corporate worship and I have some beef. And last time I tried to go to meeting god did that thing where you get tested and have some Job-like experience, and well, I am no Job. Dude, I perfer to hide from my emotions, I am a mid-westerner afterall. And I just can't be that open right now. It scares me. Maybe this blog will help, I hope.