Holy Week 2021

I didn't intentionally choose this week to begin my sabbatical. A collection of external factors coincided to make this the right time. I only realized this coincidence would be true a couple of days ago.

But it feels good. Around the world, this is a week of holidays for Christians. In some contexts, secular holidays - schools and businesses are closed. In other contexts, the procession from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, with special rituals of remembrance on each day in between.
• • •
Holy Monday was the overturning of the tables in the temple. A challenge to unjust economic systems. For me, this time of rest and creative activity feels like a direct challenge to the economic structures of our day. For me, this ten week period feels like a sabbath season. A time to make right the patterns of my life. 8 hours for work, 8 hours for rest, 8 hours for what we will.

What do I will? And perhaps, not what I will, but what God wills. Not God's agents on Earth, not the church, not the government, but the Holy Creator, Source of All Wisdom, Beauty, Goodness. Not Caesar.

My main plan for this week is to begin by writing every day. To go swimming several days. And to schedule all the appointments that I put off until now. A haircut, a mammogram, new glasses, and more. It may take my whole sabbatical season to get to them all.

I already scheduled two - a deep cleaning for our house and our car. These fall into the category of things I could do for myself. However other people will be more efficient and right now I would rather pay someone to do it well and get it over with and not be exhausted when it is done. It will free me to think about other things instead of fretting about the housework. This goes against all my home training, but for once, I think it will be a good tradeoff.
• • •
Later in the week, Maundy Thursday is a reminder about community and service to others. Will I find ways, during this sabbatical season that overlaps with the Covid19 pandemic, to break bread with others and wash their feet? As a serious extrovert, I need to talk to other people for my own mental health. And as a human being and a Christian, I need to be of service to other people. Also for my own mental health. But I also need to practice some discipline around "custody of the eyes". The main purpose of this break is to bring forth that which is in me - to give to the world that which only I can give. Not to spend the time reading what other people have already written.

But recognizing the enormous privilege of having ten weeks in a row of paid leave, without even a newborn baby to take care of, I want to find some way to be of practical service to the community around me in this time as well.
• • •
Holy Friday and Saturday are about dying to self and waiting in the deep unknown. Am I able to give over my own longing to know or do or be anything and sink down to that seed that God sows in the heart? And to let that seed grow in me and breathe in me and be in me without striving to make myself more? For that seed to increase, I must decrease. In my striving and my desire for control and for fame and fortune and, and, and... everything. Not my will, Lord, but thine.

• • •
Then next Sunday, I will be going away. To an undisclosed location. For a week of self-denial of other people and the freedom to just write. A rebirth in some ways, maybe more like extended labor. I don't think it tracks to a resurrection. I'm afraid it's going to feel more like an extended Holy Saturday.

But we'll see. What freedom comes in that emptiness? What new inspirati­on or motivation? What will I be able to produce under those conditions? I have no idea.

Seventeen years ago, I went away for a solo retreat for a weekend. At that point in my life, what I most needed was for no one to touch me for 48 hours. I literally had to wean the baby in order to go away. The writing was just a serendipitous byproduct. But my life has changed ever since. And that baby is 19 years old now.

One of the things people keep telling me is not to have too high of expectations for myself in this sabbatical season. To not feel like I have to fill it with any particular kind of productivity or to set too concrete of a goal. That has been helpful advice.

But I am trying to establish the conditions for creative output to be possible.

I am trying to leave margins of time and energy to do what feels right in the moment.

To seek God's guidance in each day, each moment. And then to follow that guidance wherever or however it may lead.

• • •
This is the way.

That would be enough.


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Un Salmo de Robin, 25 julio 2020

"Un Salmo de Robin" fue escrito el 25 julio 2020 como un ejercicio durante un retiro contemplativo de escribir nuestro propio salmo, utilizando nuestras oraciones sencillas, oraciones de nuestro corazón. La traducción en ingles esta abajo.

Querido Dios,

Ayúdame a que los dichos de mi boca y la meditación de mi corazón sean los mismos.

Reconozco que en tu creación somos tan minúscula como una montaña y tan magnifico como una brizna de hierba.

Pero en nuestra tierra, el mundo llora.

La justicia atrasada es justicia negada. Aun la pandemia no puede detener el progreso de la justicia. Pero ruego su misericordia con los que estamos vigilando nuestros muertos a solas. La raza humana no fue creada para la vida solitaria, sino una vida solidaria.

AMOR, me has creado para esto? ¿Para un tiempo así? Ayúdame a escuchar el susurro de tu voz y que la dejo guiar mi voluntad y mis pasos.

Mi pueblo adoptivo son los Cuáqueros. Con sus antecedentes heróicos y pecaminosos. No puedo asumir el uno sin el otro. Y me has llamado a servir a través de ellos. ¿Quieres que siga haciendo lo mismo? ¿Que estoy apoyando a los Cuáqueros a conocerse unos a otros? Que estoy creando espacio para los demás líderes a tomar sus puestos? ¿Vale la pena trabajar en la viña del Señor en una época así? En vez de la política de mi país?

Me contestas que sí. Para sostener a los que van a cambiar el mundo. Al socorro de tus labradores. Obedezco.

Ayúdame a construir con mis esfuerzos y nuestros Amigos una rampa de acceso para los que han escuchado tu voz y quieren hacer mejor pero que no saben como empezar ni para cual puerta entrar ni salir.

Ayúdame a recordar que no soy separada de ellos, ni los heridos ni los que hieren a su prójimo.

Ayúdame a crear un espacio para hablar de los verdaderos anhelos de nuestros corazones. Ayúdame a escuchar más que hablar. Que no dejo pasar la oportunidad de hacer lo necesario. De hacer lo justo. AMOR, hasta cuándo?

Aunque sigo agradecida por lo que me has brindado.

Ayúdame a no dejar de ser la mujer de mi marido, la madre de mis hijos, la dueña de mi casa, vestida de sencillez y justicia, mujer hacendosa. Reconozco la enseñanza de mis padres para cuidar de mi casa y enseñar a mis hijos. Agradezco la enseñanza de la universidad que no me libra de limpiar mi propia cocina pero no tengo que limpiar las cocinas de otras. Agradezco que me has proveído un hombre hecho y derecho, mi ayuda idónea, quien merece mi confianza y apoya a mi ministerio. Quien se acerca a mi con cariño y me hace reir. Señor del AMOR, ayuda a tod@s a encontrar la ayuda idónea para ell@s. Ayúdame a no despreciar el ministerio en mi junta local a favor de cualquier ministerio global o de aclamación mundana para no olvidar lo tedioso y lo precioso que es la comunidad cotidiana, que es la placa petri de la vida espiritual.

Ayúdame a hacer lo que está en mis manos por el bien de los días que me han tocado vivir, extirpando el mal en los campos y las calles que conozco, y dejando a los que vendrán después una tierra limpia para la labranza.

Y siempre, que no sea como yo quiero, AMOR, sino como tú quieras.

This was written as part of a contemplative retreat exercise to write our own psalm, using our own simple prayers of the heart.. Here is the translation:

A Psalm of Robin, July 25, 2020

Dear God,

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be the same.

I know that in your creation, we are as miniscule as mountains and as magnificent as a blade of grass.

But in our land, the world cries out.

Justice delayed is justice denied. Even the pandemic cannot stop the progress of justice. But I ask your mercy upon those of us who are mourning alone. The human race was not created for a solitary life, but for solidarity.

LOVE, is this what I was made for? For a time such as this? Help me to hear the whisper of your voice and to let that guide my will and my steps.

You know the Quakers are my adopted people, with both their heroic and their sinful past. I cannot take on one without the other. And you have called me to serve through them. Do you really want me to keep doing the same thing? Supporting Quakers to get to know each other? Creating spaces for other leaders to take their places? Is it really worth laboring in the vineyard of the Lord at a time like this? Instead of the politics of my country?

I hear the answer is yes. I am called to support those who are going to change the world. To succour your laborers. Got it.

Help me to build, with my own efforts and these our Friends, an access ramp for those who have heard your voice and want to do better but who do not know how to start or which door to come in or go out. Help me to remember that I am not separate from the others, neither the wounded nor those who wound their neighbor.

Help me create spaces where we can talk about real things, the true longings of our hearts. Help me to listen more than I talk. May I not miss any opportunity to do what is necessary. To do what is right. LOVE, how long?

Still, I’m grateful for all I have received.

LOVE, may I not fail to be the wife of my husband, the mother of my children, the mistress of my house, dressed in simplicity and righteousness, known as a capable woman. I will remember the lessons from my parents so I can care for my home and teach my children. I will appreciate the university education that doesn't stop me from cleaning my own kitchen but spares me from cleaning other people’s kitchens. I am grateful that you have provided me with a man of integrity, a worthy helpmeet, who merits my trust and supports my ministry, who cares for me with gentleness and makes me laugh. LOVE, may everyone find the worthy and willing helpmeet that is right for them. Help me not to forgo ministry in my local meeting in favor of any global ministry or worldly acclaim so as not to forget how tedious and how precious is our everyday community, which is the petri dish of the spiritual life.

Help me to do what is in me for the succour of those years wherein I am set, uprooting the evil in the fields and the streets that I know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till.

And always, not my will, LOVE, but yours.

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In the presence of God and these our Friends

I remembered this morning why I come to yearly meeting.

20 years ago, I went to Pacific Yearly Meeting for the first time with my husband and our two year old child. The first day was pretty horrible. It was super hot. Eating and sleeping in a new place was a challenge for our two year old. And his parents. We were all pretty cranky. But then he had a really good time at the children’s program. He woke up the third morning saying, “Mommy? I want to go to schooool.” (The preschool program was in a kindergarten classroom.) So I got him to the program pretty quickly on the third day and I made it to the plenary worship for the first time.

I walked in to a meeting for worship with 400 Friends for the first time in my life. As I sat down and settled into worship, it was like sinking into a pool of cool water. I breathed more deeply. And I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit with me and among us. Over the years, I return to that experience in my mind as an example of why I come to yearly meeting.

This morning, after about 24 hours of being cranky about a range of things, I arrived at plenary worship at Philadelphia Yearly Meeting annual sessions. And I had that same sensation of sinking into cool water. Of being in the presence of God and Friends. And I remembered, this is why I come to yearly meeting.

The actual people who are here are trying. They have their issues. Some Friends aren’t here, that’s their choice. The business needs to get done. Sometimes it goes well and sometimes not. But that is par for the course of life. That doesn’t change my experience of the presence of God among Friends.

This is the most important reason why I come to yearly meeting sessions every year.

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My 3 Words for 2018

This is still my favorite way to approach New Year’s resolutions and some reflection on the year behind me. This process is from Chris Brogan. You can read about the discernment process and his 3 words for 2018 on his blog. You can search for the hashtag #my3words to see other people’s takes on it. You can read my 3 words for 2017 and find links to the years before that on my blog.

My three words for 2017 were Slow, Teach, Ask. I feel like I made progress in all three areas, so that is something. And I specifically referenced these intentions in my mind throughout the year, to help me choose my words and my commitments and my actions. Which is the point. And it was easy to tell other people my words because they were both simple and cryptic. Most of Brogan’s 3 words choices fit that model. Each single syllable word holds a wealth of meaning and serves as a touchstone for a profound intention.

This year, I’m going to buck that tradition and use the longer words that baldly mean what I mean.
Family, Intellectual, Marketing. 
Family, because this year is going to require more engagement with my extended family than before. My parents are aging and my sister is bearing most of the burden because I live so far away. So I am acknowledging how much positive love and support I have been given by my parents and committing to be more present and more helpful in the coming year.

Intellectual, because I really enjoyed the writing and reading and talking to academic people I did in 2017. I want to push myself to find more opportunities for thinking and writing and talking to people about ideas in the coming year. Most of my non-work reading in the last dozen years has been young adult fantasy and adventure fiction, following my tween and teen kids. (Part of my standing commitment to be able to have conversations with them about the things they are interested in.) But I remember now that I want to read to challenge my brain, not just to comfort or distract myself. And I want to push myself to articulate my ideas clearly and completely. And to write for a wider audience.

Marketing is all about my paid work. This last year, I took an online course with Seth Godin, the first cohort of The Marketing Seminar. It helped me in so many ways. What do you do? Who is it for? What change are you trying to make? How do people who need us learn that we have what they need? How do we delight the people we serve? This coming year, I want to address more straightforwardly the challenges for FWCC, which all have a marketing component. And I don’t want to waste time looking for new words that mean the same things as marketing technical terms but sound spiritual. Plain speaking is still a Quaker value.

As I look at this, these are my personal intentions for improvements in 2018. And as always, I try to remember that what I truly desire to do is not my will, but thine, O Lord.

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New mercies I see

Have you heard the saying that the secret to a long, happy marriage is falling in love over and over again, each time with the same person? I believe this to be true.

I think it is also the secret to a long tenure in the same job, or a long-term practice of the same religion. The cycle of conviction, convincement, and conversion is a staple of Quaker faith and practice.

I feel like the last couple of weeks have brought me to a renewal of my “vows” to my job. (I use quotes here because it’s still a time-limited contract, not a lifetime appointment.) Perhaps it is more a renewed sense of my vocation and the discovery that it is still in line with my paid employment. I think this will come as a relief to my husband and my board of directors, who have watched me wrestle with the questions only I can answer. I know that this season of uncertainty will come again and again. That is just part of the examined life.

One of the factors has been this class I’m taking, on marketing with Seth Godin. I’m using the Traveling Ministry Corps as my case study and it’s been great. I’ve gotten much clearer about how to do that work. But one of the byproducts has been what Godin called, “marketing to the most important student." Which is myself. In the act of thinking about who is this for? and what do they care about?, I find myself articulating more clearly why I think this work is important. Which has the effect of reminding me why I want to do this work. Which makes a lot easier to do it.

Another factor was going to the Stoking the Fire retreat before the FUM  Triennial. It was wonderful to be with about 40 Friends, from high-school age to 80-somethings, who all came to stoke their own fires. And it was wonderful to be taught by women whose character and ways of service I can aspire to. We all need those examples. Imperfect human beings who are sharing their own lessons. I can’t overemphasize how important it was to go to a denominational conference for which I was not the over-burdened staff. I went to worship every day. I was present and vulnerable in worship sharing groups. I snuck out for coffee with old and new friends.

One of the messages from God to me in worship was, “if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.” Not in the sense that song was written. But if I can’t be with the Meeting I love, I have to love the gathered community of Friends wherever I am. I can’t hold back until I’m home with the people who already know and love me. I have to share my insights, my faith and my doubts with whoever is there, or I’m not going to make it. (There are limits to this, but they are further out than many people think.)

And if I can’t be with the river I love, I can love any bit of water I can find. The Greenville Y of the Feather River and the Connecting Railway Bridge over the Schuylkill River are both spiritually grounding places in my life. But other lands have sunshine too, and clover

In this same couple weeks, I read Diana Butler Bass’s book, Grounded. In it I recognized my own sense of dislocation from my roots and my connection to the imagery of water in my psyche and my spiritual journey. (Mountains and grass are also important images in my spiritual life, but that’s a different story.) The phrase that resonated the most for me, that speaks to me of my whole life’s project, is “sacred cosmopolitanism.” (Bass, p. 270) Bass cites Kwame Anthony Appiah, Mark Mitchell, and John of Patmos as sources. I’m still working this out, but it speaks to me of an urban theology. We need a positive theology for living together in the 21st century. Cities are not inherently and unrelentingly more corrupt than anywhere else. As a friend said to me twenty-six years ago, “The city is the place of the people animals,” and it has been my place for over 30 years. It is a philosophy beyond nationalistic parochialism, but with room for a “humane localism.” This is a philosophy that can acknowledge that home-grown tomatoes are the best without falling into the trap that only my family’s tomatoes are any good. This speaks to me of the possibility of pluralism and affirming the truth of my own people’s stories. In the midst of the morass, we need the uniquely human spiritual gifts as well: compromise, paradox, balance, contrarianship, translation. None of us is a single story, least of all me.

While I’m at it, I want to acknowledge that all of these good things have coincided with a break in the hormonal crappiness of peri-menopause. Despair is both a spiritual and a chemical condition. I don’t really want to discuss that here, but I think it would be a sin of omission to not recognize that it’s a factor in life, and I am not immune to or above its effects.

Which brings me back to feeling refreshed for the journey and re-committed to my work. I am blessed to have the right and the responsibility to live out my divine calling in my day job.

My main job is connecting Quakers to each other - so that they are freed up to connect with other local people who want to be part of a healthy and functional spiritual community that is committed to peace and justice and following God’s guidance for our lives. From Alaska to Bolivia.

There is always more work to do than hours in the day or days in the week. There is a lot of accounting and administrivia in my job, no fooling. But there is also the opportunity to speak up, to connect people, to see patterns from this particular perspective, to hold the big picture in the Light and to call Friends to live up to the Light that we have been given.

I need to not get so bogged down in the accounting and event planning so that I fail to look up and out and do all the things that are risky and engaging and visionary. I try to practice a refreshing honesty, a warm, engaging hospitality and a bracing ministry of encouragement. Sometimes I get to be a bee, pollinating between blossoms in the orchard of Friends. Sometimes I get to be a gardener, preparing fields for planting, or hoeing crops in the ground, and contributing to some harvests I will not live to see. That is a blessing.

Over the last several months, I have wrestled with the fact that I have to choose my battles. I can keep up with my home life, or my work life, or the national/international world. Pick two out of three. And this year, I realize that I am choosing family and Friends. But I believe that if I and the Friends World Committee do our work well, there will be more than enough hands to do all the work that needs doing.

Because these Quakers are the line of people who taught me to be more fully myself, who helped me understand the mysteries of my spiritual life. Because this is the people I have found who are the most committed to peace and justice and following God’s guidance for our lives. Because I think I can make a difference here and now.

Now, because this is the time I have. Now, because these are probably my peak years to combine experience and energy.

Now, because the world desperately needs more Quakers who are committed to peace and justice and following God’s guidance for our lives. And in order for Friends to live up to our highest calling, we need each other to balance and challenge and support each other.

Now, because it’s the most exciting thing I can imagine doing - where I generally feel competent and appreciated - and fully challenged to live up to the Light I have been given.
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me. … Morning by morning, new mercies I see.

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My Three Words for 2017

Slow. Teach. Ask.

Slow, because I want to slow down and pay attention. Not speak too quickly. Not act too quickly. Not judge too quickly. Not fix it too quickly. I want to take the time to be more graceful, more patient. Most of the things I regret (was embarrassed by) in the last year/my whole life are because I spoke without thinking, leapt without looking.

In La Paz, Bolivia several years ago, at that high altitude, I learned that I could get along fine as long as I walked like a dignified Señora, and not if I scurried around like a little girl. If I tried to run up the stairs, I would be out of breath by the first landing. But if I just walked slower, I would get where I was going smoothly and with energy to do whatever I need to do when I got there. I want to remember that lesson as I approach 50 and beyond, even at sea level.

Teach, because it makes me happy. I like explaining things. I like sharing what I have learned. I like inviting people to consider new ideas and facilitating discussions. I want to accept more invitations to speak and to write when they come to me. I will look for ways to do this as part of my job, because it makes a better balance in my life with all the management/accounting stuff, so that I can continue to enjoy my job. And I want teaching to be part of my life at my monthly meeting and in my children’s religious education. For me, this will include taking time to write more articles, maybe even more blogposts! Invitations to teach do come my way every so often, and I want to remember that they are not a distraction from my real work – this is part of the work that God has created me to do, whether I get paid for it or not.

So, to start, I will be leading a discussion at Green Street Monthly Meeting on January 29, 2017 at 9:15 am, about a passage from A Language for the Inner Landscape: Spiritual Wisdom from the Quaker Movement by Brian Drayton and William P. Taber, Jr., pages 92-93, from the chapter on “Community and the Inner Life of the Meeting.” The discussion will focus on “What is the real purpose of our worship together?” And then, I will be writing a lesson for the United Society of Friends Women International 2017-2018 program book, Blueprints, on the same theme. I am grateful to the Friends who extended the invitations to do both of these.

Ask, because I want to be less bossy, less of a know-it-all. To ask first, do you want me to tell you more about this? Or not? Do you want help? May I? How may I help you? How would you like to be involved? How would you like to hear from me? What do you think? To say less often, “You know what, you should _____________!”

This is a life lesson, that maybe I can change and maybe I can’t. This is rooted in being an eldest child, so it’s a long time in the making. I am weighing this desire against the fact that girls with leadership skills are too often called bossy. But I think that I could be more effective in my leadership and my teaching and my interpersonal relationships if I were more thoughtful in my communications. Which makes this connected to my first word, slow, because if I thought for a second before I speak, I would find better ways to teach, better ways to lead, better ways to parent adult children, and be a wife and sister, etc.

I pray for God’s guidance and people’s forbearance as I move in these directions. I am grateful to Chris Brogan for his inspiration to choose three words each year. If you want to read some of my three words from prior years, here are 2016, 20152012, 2010, and here are my prior attempts at new years resolutions from 2009 and 2008. If you write your own, use the hashtag #my3words so that we can find each other.

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My 25th Quaker Anniversary

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
God who?
What do mean, God who? Your Creator. The plan for the rest of your life, The Ground of All Being. 
God who?! I tell ya, kids these days...

Today is actually the 25th anniversary of my first Quaker meeting. I know it is today because the first time was in 1991, on the weekend of the Michigan-Notre Dame football game, in Ann Arbor.

That’s more than half of my life now. It almost didn’t happen.

Twenty-five years ago, I had just graduated from college. I spent the summer working on campus, awaiting my internship with the Fourth World Movement to begin in October. One day in early September, the head of the department said to me, “You’re interested in the University of Michigan for graduate school, right?” I said yes, maybe, sort of. She offered me her plane ticket for that weekend because she was sick and couldn’t go to some professional meeting in Ann Arbor. Another professor in the department suggested I could stay with her in-laws who lived there. I worked up the courage to call these people and ask and they said yes, I could stay with them for the weekend. I tried calling different departments, and didn’t get any answers, but I decided to go anyway. (This was before the internet was accessible to folks like me.)

On Friday morning, I woke up late because something was wrong with my alarm clock. I nearly gave up, but a housemate suggested I call the airline right then and see if they could reschedule me on a later flight. Turned out, if I left right then, there was a chance I could catch the next flight from DC-Detroit. I got all dressed up and took my briefcase, hoping I could pass as "Dr. Beth Soldo." (This was back in the days when you didn’t usually have to show ID at the airport.)

In Ann Arbor, I finally realized why none of the professors had returned my calls. It was the weekend of the Big Game and students were rioting in the streets. On Saturday morning, I walked into a dress shop and my eyes started watering. The saleslady said it was probably the lingering tear gas that had been used the night before to get the students to go home. The university was closed down and most of the professors were out of town.

On the Saturday night, Mary, the lady I was staying with, asked me if I would like to go with them to Quaker meeting on Sunday morning. She was very nice; I didn’t have any other plans, and I had been on a spiritual search for some time. So I said yes.

On the bedside table in their guest room was a little book, “The Faith and Practice of the Quakers” by somebody I’d never heard of (Rufus Jones). I decided to quickly read a little bit so I would know what I was getting myself into. I was intrigued. The book said that Quakers believed in non-violence, simplicity of life, and the equality of women, including preaching in worship. And their whole central practice was about listening to God. Not just for the radical fringe, but for everyone.

In the morning, Phil (Mary’s husband) said he had decided not to go to meeting that morning because he was getting ready for an audit by the IRS. I said something sympathetic and he said, “It’s okay. It’s happened before.” I was shocked. Audited more than once? That seemed terrible, I hadn’t heard of that before.

So anyway, I went to Quaker meeting, and I had a profound experience in worship and a good time at coffee hour, and I was hooked.

When I got back to DC, I looked for the nearest Quaker meeting and found that I lived within walking distance of the meetinghouse. Which was a good thing because there was no bus that could get me there early enough on a Sunday morning. I had actually been near it many times, but if you’ve ever been to Friends Meeting of Washington, you know it’s on this little side street and you’d never know it was there unless you were looking for it on purpose.

From then on, I discovered that I could get up on Sunday mornings with no problem. And I’ve never really looked back. Other stories have come and gone in my relationship with meeting for worship, but I’m still going, pretty much every week, and sometimes more often than that.

Also, when I got back to DC, I mentioned to my co-worker that I felt badly for her in-laws, what with being audited repeatedly and all that. She laughed and said, “Oh, it happens every year. They are war tax resisters and so they don’t pay their taxes and the IRS comes and takes it from them anyway.” That was the first I had heard of such a thing.

A few months later, I was a regular attender at 15th Street Meeting in New York City, and dating another attender. :-) One day I was in the little library/bookstore at the front of the meetinghouse. I have the idea that I was just standing inside to get out of the cold. But at least I was browsing the shelves while I was standing there. I happened to notice the surname of the couple I had stayed with in Ann Arbor on the back of one of the books. I looked more closely and sure enough, it was the same: Phillips Moulton, the editor of John Woolman’s Journal. My brush with Quaker fame, and I didn’t even know it. Later that year, I wrote them a second thank you note to thank them for taking me to meeting for the first time and changing my life forever. For them, it was just a simple, natural gesture of hospitality. One of many, I am sure.

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