Saturday, May 28, 2005

Brief update

It's been a week, so I thought I'd just slip in a post to show that I do still exist.

This last week was littered with final exams and year-end events.

Today was my high school graduation; doubly emotional coming from a boarding school. I haven't slept in a day, and I just had the most amazingly wonderful night with some wonderful people (some of whom I won't be seeing for a long time). I'm in a state of complete disbelief that it's actually over, feeling torn away, lonely, and in need of many more hugs from those I won't see so much anymore.

I was almost inspired to write a post earlier this week, but I haven't had the energy, nor the focus, to write anything meaningful here. I haven't been consciously focused on spirituality this week, which, while it's frustrating sometimes, is ok from time to time. Despite this lack of conscious focus on spirituality, I have felt in the last couple days as though my class, the class of 2005, has been held in the light, in a sense, by the school and the school community these last couple days. It's just how everything felt to me; it's not a Quaker school or anything.

I know this may seem petty compared to many other things, but please hold me in the light as I transition from an environment where I've had such an amazing, wonderful, and supportive friends around in-person almost whenever I need or want to be with them, to living on my own and paying for my own rent for 2 1/2 months, with most of my friends only available to me through the internet and occasionally the phone. Thank you, Friends. I will try to have a more focused post up soon after I recuperate from this trainwreck of emotions.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

College and Quakerism: a dilemma

In one week I graduate high school. Next year I will attend Wellesley College, up in MA. A year ago, if I knew that would be true now, I would have been incredibly overjoyed. A year ago I decided that I wanted to go to Wellesley (and was incredibly excited about it). After visiting a few colleges, I decided to apply to Wellesley early decision (which is binding); of all the colleges I'd seriously looked in to, it snagged me. It was more of a gut feeling; perhaps even a leading. In December I joyfully discovered that I had been accepted. Until a few weeks ago, I had no qualms about this; no doubts whatsoever.

A few weeks ago my involvement in Quakerism jumped up a significant amount. I also was reminded of Earlham and heard a great deal about it from a second-year there (who I met a few weeks ago and who is also an awesome person). I began to question my decision.

Though not everyone at Earlham is Quaker (far from it), it's a community with rules/guidelines based on Quaker principles. There are entire courses regarding Quakerism (such as Quaker Spirituality), which I would love to take. There are wonderful people there involved in the wider Quaker community such as Paul Lacey. It has a decent chemistry department (I'm currently planning to major in chemistry). The more I think about it, the more it seems like the perfect place for me to learn about finding a balance between my passion for chemistry and my devotion to my Quaker faith, in addition to furthering my experiences with both. Alas, I am currently bound (somewhat literally) to my entrance at Wellesley this fall.

Wellesley doesn't have a prominent on-campus Quaker community (though I plan to seek out any other Quakers and get everyone together as soon as possible; previous such organizers graduated a couple years ago, and from what I've heard, no one's picked up the ball). I'm having enough trouble being the only active Quaker at my school as it is; it would be nice not to be so isolated in college.

Through this thought process, it's hard to remember my original excitement about Wellesley. It's up north, near a big city (BOSTON!) but not in one, has awesome sciences, is a small (2300 students) liberal arts college, no greek life, I loved the campus, met a Quaker chemistry professor there when I visited, and had an inexplicable gut feeling about it. Wellesley Friends Meeting is also not too far down the road.

I know that there's no way out of going to Wellesley this fall (unless my family suddenly goes broke in the next two months, which is incredibly unlikely, knock on wood); I know that I will give Wellesley the best chance that I can. Perhaps this inexplicable gut feeling was a true leading (though I'm not sure I properly tested it as such); perhaps part of my calling is to get Friends on campus organized (as I mentioned above). In fact, I bet once I get there I'll feel a ton better about it. If not, then I'll continue to think about transferring. I already feel a little better about it after writing this out and weighing things in a slightly more balanced manner.

Knowing this, I still feel frustrated and confused about this sudden doubt.

I was unsure about the relevance of this post for this blog of mine, but I feel compelled to post it here. If anyone has any comments or suggestions or thoughts (or feelings) about this, please feel free to comment or offer support.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Cared for by the Spirit

The other day while I was on my way to class, I was thinking about how I might respond if someone came up and asked me the question, "Have you been saved?".

This situation has actually never happened to me (at least not that I can recall), but I often consider what I would do in such a situation. This thought process is often a checkpoint for me; it allows me to consider questions such as: am I am actually considerate of the beliefs of others? Am I comfortable with my own spirituality in relation to that of others? Do I look beyond the words to the meaning and intent of the question posed? (Do I feel as though I would become defensive or offended in such a situation?)

Over time I find that my response has changed (as I have often considered this situation). The first time I considered it, I believe I didn't really know how I would respond - probably very apprehensively and uncomfortably I would say 'no' and then brace myself for a lecture I didn't want to hear; I was not clear about my own spirituality. There was a point in the last year where I would have felt offended and not respected; I was getting caught on words and not intentions - by feeling offended, I was not being considerate enough to interpret the meaning of such a question and was instead ignoring the care behind it. As a few months passed, this kind of reaction no longer felt right.

So the other day as I was again considering the situation, the following response came to me: "Do not concern yourself with me, I am under the care of the Spirit." This struck me quite significantly, as this message was as much for me as it would have been a response to another. I am often concerned about my own spirituality in an intellectual manner. I keep forgetting to be patient and to allow myself to be cared for by the Spirit. I must remember to say to myself, "Do not concern yourself so much, Friend, you are being cared for by the Spirit."

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Relating to friends (lower case 'f')

Note: The below is slighty tweaked from what I wrote in a post on my normal, not specifically spiritual online journal/blog, but I felt it appropriate to articulate here as it still pertains to my experiences with Quakerism.

Does it make sense to feel generally lonely shortly after going out and hugging a bunch of different friends and hanging out?

There are so many people I hug on a regular basis and love so much, who love me so much back; I offer all of my support and love to my friends, but I feel like there's something very important missing. We all hug all the time and hang out and talk about surface things, but we rarely go deeper, into more personal issues. I want to connect on a deeper level. I want to really get to know my friends, not just hug them every day.

I feel like some of the things in my life that are most important to me and who I am are either not important at all to anyone else, or I'm afraid talking about them will make someone else uncomfortable - and it never really comes up anyway.

A big part of who I am has to do with my spirituality and Quakerism. Eventhough everyone knows I'm Quaker and some ask general questions about Quakerism (or even attend Meeting with me on occassion), I never actually talk about my own experiences. This year has been a year of incredible change for me on my spiritual journey as a Quaker; I've developed and grown so much. But who around here would know? Aside from my occassional comment about going somewhere or doing something or about how I know Quakers all over the country, I've rarely spoken about my own inward experiences. These inward experiences are central to my way of being and central to what thoughts go through my head on a daily basis. Almost a constant basis. I never talk about it because I don't want to intrude on anyone else's religious (or non-religious) comfort zone.

In my struggle to unite my spirituality with everything in my daily life, to unite my spirit with the mundane, I still keep it to myself. I even created a seperate journal to relate spiritual contemplations so that if my friends didn't want to hear about it, they don't have to. Though this seperate journal has caused me to find a small online community of Friends (which is wonderful), it still does not help me relate to my friends here. I almost feel like I'm hiding this huge part of myself from everyone, but I wouldn't quite know how to express it even if I weren't afraid of making people uncomfortable.

It's not that my spirituality is particularly discomforting or off-putting, it's that I'm afraid that any talk at all of spirituality would be off-putting for some, and I don't want to put anyone off. I tend to save my in-person rambles about spirituality for when some philosophical conversation occurs of its own accord and tends toward the direction of spirituality, but that just hasn't happened that often around here. As I continue on and develop, more and more, I need someone to talk to.

I still behave in ways that fit with my spiritual and Quaker beliefs and experiences, and haven't been deliberately going against anything central to my Spirit in order to "fit in" or anything, it's just that I never talk about why, or no one actually notices in the first place.

I don't have any solution to this problem. I just felt the need to articulate it. Perhaps I'll feel better about all of it now, perhaps I will not. I'm still working on finding a balance in many aspects of my life.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Finding the Spirit in the Mundane

I continue to find that when I look back upon my posts I am reminded of things that came to me on a particular day, but that I let go of too soon. I need to remember the joy and love in everything around me, I need to remember to listen with my heart more than my head. I need to remember that it is ok to have periods of spiritual chaos, or periods of spiritual dry-ness. Forcing things usually makes them worse.

It is so difficult to remember these things in my life here at school (I live at a boarding school); I feel that I am stuck in a rut. A few months ago I placed pieces of paper on the wall by my bed that say the following things: "Peace - To be calm within despite chaos without", "Listen with calm Patience", "Nurture with Care and Grace", and "LOVE passionately". It was my hope that if I was reminded by these words each morning that I may remember them throughout my daily routines. Usually, though, I barely notice them in my groggy morning state as I check my email, throw on some normal clothes, grab my bag, and shuffle off to class. I find it incredibly easy to be distracted during the day from things I hope to keep in my heart at all times. I realize that I do keep things in my heart even if I am not constantly thinking of them, but there are times when I simply forget or get frustrated and don't remember to feel. I've spent too long feeling like the mundane and the spiritual aspects of life are seperate.

I feel so distracted these days! I don't even know by what! Though I know it is ok to be chaotic sometimes, I wish that I were better at feeling and identifying the Spirit in the mundane during these periods of chaos.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Welcome to My New Blog Site!

I realized today that for the purposes of my spiritual blog, Blogger (blogspot) is much more appropriate than Livejournal. It's more finished-looking, has more (and better) options, and seems to be of much better quality. In having better quality, I may take more time and care with my posts - with Livejournal I tend to edit very little - and this will have a good impact on my writing skills and articulation.

I have added Quaker Ranter, The Good Raised Up, and Of the Best Stuff, but Plain to my 'Other Blogs' list, and I hope that these Friends do not mind (please, let me know immediately if you mind and I will take down the links ASAP).

As you can probably see, I have added all of the posts from my previous blog (with appropriate dates for date of post), Those that did not have titles before now have some sort of title to make the 'Recent Posts' list easier to read. The only thing that did not switch along with my posts are the comments on them, which can still be found at

I may still use the livejournal account for minor livejournal things (such as the Quaker community there), but for the most part, this is now the blog I will use for spiritual and theological contemplations, writings, etc.

Any advice about blogspot or my particular blog is quite welcome.


Monday, May 09, 2005

The Heart of my Restlessness

I feel like there's a lot of stuff floating around inside me that needs to get out and I don't know how to let it out. I find it difficult to truly listen and wait. I had no problem sitting still during Meeting today, but my focus is off. I can't even remember what I thought about or felt during Meeting today, and that's quite frustrating. I feel like I'm flailing my arms in the dark, looking for someone to take hold and guide me. I know that flailing my arms is not going to do anything; they say if you are lost to stay where you are until someone finds you. Perhaps that is part of what waiting is about; waiting for the Spirit to guide you.

Alas, there is a restlessness within me, about which I know not what to do. It's times like these when I realize that when I think and try too hard it only makes things worse. It's time to relax my mind a little, wait, and listen more to my heart, to the Spirit. My intellectual side has been going on overdrive trying to purposefully "wait and listen". Listening is about waiting for a feeling. Instead of flailing my arms in the dark, I should pause and let my Light shine bright and guide me.

I am thankful that I created this particular journal. If I had not ventured to write the above, it may have taken much longer to reach the heart of my restlessness.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Need Quaker Book Suggestions!

As I am delighting in the fact that I found an online resource where a number of older Pendle Hill Pamphlets are available online (, I'm also excited about one more resource for reading material.

I am going to graduate from high school in three weeks, and my mom mentioned to me today that she had no idea what to get me as a graduation present. She noticed my high interest in Quaker reading materials (books, pamphlets, etc.), and offered as my graduation present $200 worth of Quaker books (of my choice)!

Even before this point I had gone through the FGC Bookstore catalogue and circled books that caught my interest right off, but I want to have input from other readers.

What books do you think every Friend should read? What books do you think a young Friend like myself should read? What books blew (blow) you away and took (take) part in your own (or anyone's) spiritual transformation?

Any suggestions?

[If you could give a brief description of the book in addition to title/author, that would be most helpful]

Friday, May 06, 2005

Love Conquers Hate

Tonight I went to see a production of The Laramie Project put on by my old high school, Durham School of the Arts (DSA) (which has a PHENOMENAL theater program).

Wait, let me back up. I'd known for a few months that DSA was putting on a production of the Laramie Project and had full intentions of attending. A little over a month ago, though, I learned that Fred Phelps was going to be there and hold a protest as people went in to see the production. Now Fred Phelps does not give off a very loving vibe; in fact, it's quite the opposite that he's after. He preaches HATE. He's a Baptist preacher from somewhere in Kansas (I think it's Kansas) and he travels around the country protesting things and preaching hate (and basing it in the Bible), and that God hates some people and puts them in Hell for it.

In talking to others about this upcoming event, I found that many people reacted with anger and a sort of returned hatred. To me, this does not feel right - we're all equal, everyone has Light within. My reaction to Fred Phelps is to love him back and feel pain for the hatred present in his life. What he preaches is so incredibly outrageous that I cannot even begin to take it seriously (if you look at his website,, you might see what I mean).

So tonight I went to see this production of the Laramie Project, at which Phelps and followers were protesting. I did not really know what to expect of this, but I knew that I did not want to react to him; I wanted to just walk past and not let them get any reaction from me. As I walked down the sidewalk past the anti-gay protesters with my arm around a good friend, I did not feel affected by the Fred Phelps protest - as I mentioned before it was too outrageous for me to take seriously. What did strike me greatly was the counter protest across the street. There were 20 or so anti-gay protesters, and at least 100 counter-protesters packed like sardines between the street and the building across the street. I felt an immense loving vibe from them, one person was holding a large sign that said "God is Love", which warmed my Spirit. There was no violence, just a great amount of love.

In watching the production of the Laramie Project I was reminded of the vigils around the world for Matthew Sheperd and his family and the vast out-pouring of love. Despite all the violence and pain in this world, there is so much LOVE, and it's so easy to become distracted from it. Responding to hate with more hate only provokes the problem, two wrongs don't make a right. As the cliche statement goes, love conquers hate, and it's so true.

I do not know what moves Fred Phelps, but despite his efforts he probably inspires more love in his actions than hate. There is always love, everywhere - you just have to remember it.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Some Passion in Chaos

Despite my lack of ability to find stillness in my life, I am still able to find my passion. I'm involved in so many different things (Quaker and other) that I feel like I'm constantly losing my mind! The upside to this, however, is that I'm involved in many things that I am passionate about. While I'm running around feeling an all too familiar twinge of insanity, I'm still finding ways to coordinate with other Friends both locally and nationally about my experiences and get things done that I didn't think I could do. After speaking on a panel at a conference with a good portion of Quaker editors, representatives of publishers, and authors, I'm finding that there is so much I want to write!

Every day I feel like I think of something else I need or want to do or read, and at this rate I'll never have another free moment! Somehow I need to discover the peace in all of this chaos - I can't just wait for my life to calm down because by now I've learned that I don't let my life calm down. Every time I think there's a less chaotic period of time coming up, it turns out to be just as chaotic as the time before.

If I believed there was such a thing as 'over ambitious', I'd give myself that label right away! (Perhaps overly ambitious will have to suffice for now.)

I will find peace and calm. I just have to listen and wait - things that are all too quickly forgotten in this fast-paced life I lead.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

An Essay Thing

I find that there are so many things on my on-going To Do list that I have a constant need to be doing something! (So much for finding stillness..) However, every free moment I get (or create) I find myself reading a Quaker related writing of some sort, sending emails about one of the Quaker things I'm involved with, or trying to write something about my Quaker experiences or ideas of things to do.

I started writing an email the other day and it turned into an essay about a need to improve young Friend and adult Friend relationships in local meetings. I've decided to post this essay here, though it may need a little editing if anything serious is to become of it.

[Note: this is a revised version from the one originally posted in my other blog,]

On April 23 I flew to Oregon to serve on an editorial board for a book that QUIP is putting together of young Friends' experiences of Quakerism. After arriving in Oregon but before I met with the editorial board for this, I served on a panel with the other young Friends on the editorial board in a QUIP meeting (as we had arrived at the end of a QUIP conference for our meeting) about how media, printed or otherwise, inspired us spiritually. As we related our experiences as young Friends (and growing up as Quakers), a number of issues surfaced rather quickly.

As young Friends move through high school and enter the [young] adult world, there is often a general lack of communication between young Friends and adults in Meetings, as if there's some tension about it. Personally, as a young Friend in Durham Friends Meeting (NCYM(C)), I've found that I know certain adults - ones with whom I have interacted more specifically over the years as I have grown up. Often these are parents of other young Friends in the Meeting or people who have been involved in youth group events. What's missing is the connection to the rest of the adults in Meeting; I've been attending Durham Friends Meeting since I was born (with a period during middle school where I was mostly absent, but for the last few years I've been quite regular in attendance) and I feel like most of the meeting has no idea who I am. In addition to that, I've not known how to communicate my involvement and dedication in various national Quaker communities, such as being chosen as one of six co-clerks of the HS program at FGC Gathering this summer, my participation in Young Quakes, my attendance at a Pendle Hill Clerking workshop last fall, my involvement in this QUIP book, or how I have been reading many Quaker books over the last few months, all of which have been VERY integral in my spiritual development. Even Friends in DFM with whom I do converse sometimes after Meeting do not know of all these things with which I am involved.

Also, when I stopped attending First Day school in January of my junior year in high school (a little over a year ago) and began attending the full hour of Worship, I spoke to two youth leaders about it briefly so they would understand, and then there was no further response. Looking back on this, I feel that the Meeting should be more involved in such a transition for all young Friends - not just those adults directly involved in the youth group/First Day school, but everyone should be more aware and attentive of the young Friends in Meeting and their involvement in Quaker communities outside of Meeting.

One thing that each of us felt is very important yet very lacking is mentorship within Meeting for Worship. There need to be adults who are not necessarily First Day school teachers, youth group leaders, or parents who are willing to have a relationship with a young Friend as someone who has had more experience with Quakerism and can nurture a young Friend's spiritual development. A young Friend who was in Oregon with me related her experiences with a mentor she has at Earlham (she is a second-year there, currently), and how she sees him about once a week; often she even receives books to read from him.

As the only active young Friend at my school (I'm sort of the 'token' Quaker around), I usually do not have anyone to talk to about my spiritual findings and leadings. As I have continued to develop spiritually, I find more and more I need other Friends to talk to who are familiar with my struggles.

These are issues not only within Durham Friends Meeting, but in Meetings across the country. I recognize that there are efforts to improve youth programs everywhere, but it never hurts to start locally.

As a graduating senior this year, and as an involved Friend, I would like to improve my relationship with the Meeting as a whole and make way for better relationships between members and young Friends in the future. This, however, needs to be fully a double-sided effort.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


I've gained a sense of being overwhelmed with resources as I continue to discover more and more online Quaker resources. In surfing through Martin's QuakerRanter website (, I ran into a site with a few online faith and practice resources (, including a complete online version of my yearly meeting's (NCYM(C)'s) faith and practice which I have been meaning to read! I plan to get a paper copy soon, but I am still excited to find such an online resources!

Dear me, there is so much to read! Books! Online essays! Blogs! Faith and Practices! Things to write, to organize! I believe I am at a turning point in my spirituality and involvement with Quakerism - I was involved before, but now I've found that my intensity just jumped off the charts.

I often read of ambitious young Friends like myself eventually losing steam and energy and fading away - I do not want this to happen to me. I don't plan to go that way.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

a couple things..

I've been thinking about how to interpret the concept of being 'saved' in a way that has meaning to me. This idea came to me - when someone is 'saved from their sins', it is when they begin to trust in their Spirit and start to realize that people do make mistakes; one is being 'saved' from their own intense judgement of their flaws or mistakes in life (otherwise known as 'sins').

In my efforts to approach spirituality from a more spiritual standpoint as opposed to intellectually, I'm having some trouble. I'm a very intellectual thinker, and I'm having so much trouble finding stillness! It's from situations like these that I have learned most strongly that time, patience, and waiting are what I need most. I must remain patient and allow my Spirit to nurture me as I nurture it (because my Spirit and I are one and the same).

All journeys, it seems, have periods of immense chaos and confusion. With time, things begin to clear and make sense.

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