Personal Query #3

Do I make a place in my daily life for inward retirement and communion with the Divine Spirit? To what extent has this brought satisfaction spiritually? Are there ways in which I might attain greater satisfaction or inspiration? Does my daily schedule need review and revision at this time?

While I'd like to believe that I am always open to the movements of the spirit in my daily life, I don't make space in my daily routine for prayer or bible study. It happens as it happens, which is not all that infrequently. I'd like to have it happen more often, even daily, but I don't think that's something that I can fit into my daily schedule right now. My everyday life is overwhelming to me as it is. If I were to set aside time for prayer would that ground me and make it easier for me to fit in everything else? Would it cheapen my extemporaneous prayers by making it just another thing I need to get done today before I can go to bed? I'm so unsteady, so unbalanced that right now I can't get very far with the answers to those questions, much less make any changes to my schedule. I've just got to keep the ball rolling. Maybe this is my crazy talking, but it's also my crazy-management-skills talking. When things calm down again, perhaps I can make some changes, but you don't reorganize the tupperware drawer while the smoke alarm is going off. I'm pretty sure it's just some burnt toast and not a grease fire this time, but I think this metaphor has gone far enough. Lord, hold me close and get me through this day. I can't do it without you.

Elizabeth Bathurst

What kiddie table?

Last night, I went to the opera. The audience, though decidedly better dressed, had similar demographics to a Quaker meeting, as well as many library functions. Grey hair and white skin abound. In all three of these arenas I regularly hear that the greying of the profession/audience/meeting is a problem. Where are the young people? What's going to happen when all the opera-goers, elderly Quakers, and librarians retire or die?

On the train back from Symphony Hall I was surrounded by older couples examining their programs, who looked at me with bemusement when I joined in their conversations about the performance. This look of bemusement is common in all three arenas. It comes from a very different place than the occasional look of askance when a young person appears and speaks up, but there are ways in which it has the same effect. My fellow patrons of the art were pleased to have me there, but clearly dismissive of me. My love of the opera will keep me coming back so long as I can find affordable tickets, despite my feeling out of place, the same way that my love of metadata and order keeps me plowing ahead in my career. The same applies to my attendance at Quaker meeting. I'll keep coming back because my faith and my God require the spiritual practice of communal worship despite the fact that I feel like I'm not accepted in certain forums as a Real Quaker because I'm not over the age of fifty.

So just how did I find myself the object of bemusement at meeting, at work and at play? Mostly, I think I had adults in my life who always encouraged my interests, even when I appeared to lack the intellectual, spiritual or emotional depth the appreciate them fully. I would put myself to sleep by playing Beverly Sills on my Fisher Price Record Player as a preschooler. Many a Saturday afternoon was spent doing chores with the weekly Met broadcast on in the background. I was taken to performances and museums that my mother wanted to see and expected to behave as best I could. Additionally, I was blessed to be taken under the wing of a series of librarians who never avoided answering a question and gave me all the background information I could handle, even when I was just a student worker pasting barcodes on books.
And when it comes to my Quaker faith, my parents encouraged my explorations of different religions and denominations without censure. I had conversations with many Friends of different generations who treated me as a treasured member of the community. I was expected to attend and participate in worship to the best of my personal abilities, not as a member of a general age category. I had access a wide variety of Quaker texts in my home, even when some texts were clearly above my reading level. I didn't have trouble being taken seriously as an individual until I started interacting with Quakers outside of my yearly meeting. I don't know if this is because I grew up before their watchful eyes or if the way my yearly meeting approaches the spiritual development of our children is significantly different, but I have been blessed to have always been treated as a full member of my meeting and yearly meeting since I was a teenager.

Being taken under the wing of kindly members of an insular and aging group can be very important. Perhaps more important is for kindly members of that insular and aging group to treat newcomers, and especially young people, as individuals and have high expectations of them. Assuming that teenagers or young adults need to hang out with their peers to the exclusion of the life of the rest of the meeting or that children cannot be expected to sit in worship for an hour does not challenge them to join the community on their own time as individuals with individual strengths and gifts.

Elizabeth Bathurst


Love is like rain, part one

I wrote this back in June, but it still applies. Except that the deary today is snow and not rain.

It's a dreary day in Boston. We're having a wimpy little thunderstorm at the moment and it reminded me of a quote from the book "Breath, Eyes, Memory":

"Love is like rain. It comes in a drizzle sometimes. Then it starts pouring and if you aren't careful it will drown you." -Edwidge Danicat

Love is a dangerous thing, binding us to one another. It's what holds us together but it can hurt like hell. I know that some people like falling in love, but I am not one of them.

I am at an age where many of my friends are cohabitating, getting married and/or reproducing. I love watching their babies grow. I'm happy for them when they have relationships that are healthy and fulfilling. But it's not what I want for myself. Definitely not now, and maybe not ever.

I should clarify this a little. I'd like to have children, but mostly in a biological clock kind of way. I'm pretty sure I don't want to raise a child alone and I really don't think I'd make a good partner.

While I occasionally have those wistful moments of wouldn't-it-be-nice-if-I-had-someone-to-hold-my-hand-and-buy-me-flowers, those moments are far outweighed by my deep and sincere love of privacy, solitude and independence.

More later...

Elizabeth Bathurst



Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

I haven't forgotten about the blog. The blog is a tool to bring myself back to mediations and centered thought/action. My brain has been very active lately, so active that it is a jumble of rantings and incomplete thoughts. I think about blogging and I can't even see where to start. Or how to clear my head. I went to meeting last week. It was really good. That Sunday started off so well, meeting, a walk, I cooked...then the preasures about money and finances and the direction I am taking or not taking appeared on the horizon. I have been in a tailspin all week. I have too many big decisions in the next few months and not enough control over when I get to make the decisions...I have too many doors open, causing a wind tunnel that keeps me immobile. I keep waiting for them to shut...I keep waiting for the way to open, clearly with minimal obstruction...and it hasn't. I am tired...I am tired of questioning my future and my directions and my decisions that got me here, much less the decisions I am trying to make. And I don't have the financial resources to take the first steps I need to take to ease the weight of the crisis looming over my head right now. I try to be still and silent, but my head starts to feel like it will explode and that is not centeredness. I am four years past my Americorps year which marked true economic downturn in my life and the only changes are a Master's degree and the State I live in.

So I haven't disappeared. I just can't seem to find my way.

Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding...She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called happy. Proverbs 3:13, 18


I said what, what?

While answering questions about my sexual/reproductive history and intentions for a CDC survey a few weeks ago, I surprised myself. Not on how I answered the questions about cocaine and crack usage or whether I have had "sexual intercourse with a man in the rectum or butt (also known as anal sex)," but on the demographics questions.

The question about race has been confusing for me since I was in high school and I mostly get around that by not answering the question whenever I can. This wasn't an option but I did get to "check all that apply" which is second best. I grew up being told by my family that I was one thing and being seen by the rest of the world as another. I didn't have the concept of biracialism until I was a teenager and at times even that label has felt like selling out. Knowing that I will be faced with answering what race I am always causes some anxiety. What are the consequences of my answer/non-answer? It's stressful, more so even than talking about my sexual history with a complete stranger while she takes notes, but it's a known stress.

I know if I am going to be asked to check a box next to a racial category I'm going worry about whether or not I've made the right choice for a little while afterwards. I didn't realize that answering some of the religion questions would be so hard. "Christian, other" has become easy. I'm a Christian and I'm perfectly comfortable with the term and just about everything it implies. But then there was this follow-up question, asking me to check off words that applied to me like:
  • fundamentalist
  • born-again
  • conservative
  • evangelical
Three out of four were easy. I am not a fundamentalist. I am not conservative in the way that they mean. I am not evangelical. But born-again? I'm not like the Born-Again Christians I grew up around and I think eternal life sounds like a punishment, not a reward, and
I'm not convinced that Christ is the only way for everyone, but...
I do know that I had a life-changing spiritual experience in which I felt baptized in the Holy Spirit, which is really similar to that bit about being born again in the third chapter of John so maybe I am a born-again Christian. And now the CDC knows it.

Elizabeth Bathurst