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A Meal of Leftovers Today

My in-laws are thrifty people, who waste very little. One of the ways this gets reflected is in their careful use of leftovers--the one baked potato that didn't get eaten gets saved, fried up with onions, and served all around, the quarter cup of pasta and seafood is set out on a plate next to the half a reuben sandwich left from the trip to the diner, and so on.

I hate leftovers. With the exception of Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, and pie, I'd just as soon never see the food again once it's been cleared away at the end of the meal, and I'm personally affronted to discover some mouldering brick that used to be a last half-slice of lasagna, that nobody ever got around to eating, after all.

I will, in fact, go to any lengths to get the food eaten the first time it's set out... Be aware, if a guest in my home, you will be expected to finish up that last little spoonful of green beans left in the serving bowl! All because I hate leftovers so much.

And yet here it is, ladies and gentlemen: a hefty serving of Quaker Pagan leftovers--stuff that's been piling up in the editorial 'fridge around here, reconstituted for your reading pleasure. It's not elegant, but I will certify it 100% mold free. Mangia!

The Lost Blog Entry

Not sure how I did it, but it's gone, gone, gone. It had a brief half-life through Bloglines, and I managed to capture its ghost, but then my replacement Mac finally arrived (redeemed from the land of Microsoft once more! Can I hear an hallelujah?) and somehow managed to lose the rescued text during the move.

The post was not an earth-shaker, but for inquiring minds who may have missed it the first time around, it dealt with the fact that, having been interviewed by religion wire service reporter Daniel Burke, the resulting article Quakers Ask: What Do We Believe, and Why? came out about as well as could be expected. That is, Mr. Burke is a good writer and a careful reporter, but it's easier to make the point that Quakers are confusingly diverse in our understandings than it is to make the point that we are also puzzling able to find Unity amid our diversity, through Spirit.

I don't suppose mysticism ever fit neatly into even the best brief news article... I'm afraid I was a little irrationally disappointed at that. Still, it's not a bad article, and features quotes from a variety of Quakers more seasoned than Peter or I, including Catherine Whitmire, Thomas Hamm, Robin Mohr, and NEYM's own Jonathan Vogel-Borne.

Is Blogging Ministry?

I also spent a little time feeling panic-stricken as I realized I need to weigh seriously whether this blog is a form of ministry, and whether I should be asking my meeting to lend me some clearness and oversight around it. No answers yet, but I have, since the original post, had a long discussion with a weighty Friend on the subject. The thing that was most difficult about that was calling her up in the first place. Not only does it feel self-indulgent to ask for the time of a busy public Friend, but it feels much, much riskier to talk about such a thing with a member of my own meeting than it does to bare my soul online, in the faux-anonymity of the blogosphere.

I'm still quite interested in what other Quaker bloggers think of the possible need for clearness or oversight committees around blogs--but I'm deeply certain that what I needed very much to do was reach in to my own meeting on the question at this point. We'll see where the question takes me.

The truly grave part about losing that earlier post was losing the comment that seems to have been attached to it! At least, I cannot find it now, much to my sorrow!

A Quaker Pagan Book?

Jen--my memory does not furnish me a last name, and I'm not sure if she's a member of the Quaker Pagan listserve at Yahoo or not--contacted me with an announcement regarding a book proposal she's attempting to pull together for the Quaker Universalist Fellowship, on Quaker Pagans. Hopefully she'll stop by and see this post, and add more information--if she does, I'll put up a longtime post at the Quaker Pagan Back Page, with a link from the main blog.

The gist of the matter is that she's trying to pull together a sample table of contents at present. So, any other Quaker Pagans (or Quagans, Quiccans, Pagan Quakers, or--as one visitor to this blog once put it--Quaking Penguins) out there who have essays or ideas for essays on how earth spirituality and waiting worship combine, be aware, there is a call for your work! Hopefully, more details soon. (And, Jen, many apologies for my carelessness.)

Religion Meme
Normally, I don't engage in memes, at least on the front page. (That's part of what I created The Back Page for.) But, in this case, I will as it gives me a chance to link to a blogger I have come to enjoy and admire,Mahud of Old and New Moons. I like Mahud's openness... and I'm also appreciative of the fact that, in a world where we are all expected to find clear labels for our spiritual journeys, he's willing to acknowledge complexity where his life sends it to him.

Mahud passes along these rules from Birch Grove:

You have to use your own belief system for the meme. No fair using someone else’s to make a joke or satire. Being humorous about your own religion is encouraged!

You have to have at least one joy and one trial. More are encouraged. And no, they don’t have to be equal in length, but please be honest.

You have to tag at least one other person. More are appreciated!
Please post these rules!

I'll try to be very brief here (just for the shock effect, for those who have grown used to my wordiness).

My Joys:

I keep meeting (in person or in the blogosphere) people I find truly loveable. Some of them shine from inside with the Light that they carry. Some of them are rocks of integrity, or models of balancing justice and gentleness. They instruct me and they inspire me... and sometimes they think I'm pretty cool, too. What is better than being loved back by people you deeply admire and love? What is better than the friendship of kind, wise-hearted men and women?

Well, maybe--maybe its the friendship of Spirit, of "The Friend of Friends," as Benigno called it in the Bible half-hours at NEYM, or the times when I'm standing in a forest, surrounded by hemlocks and maples with colors like illuminated stained glass, and I suddenly know that the forest is alive, that I love it with all my heart, and--get this--it

The times when a breeze touches my face, and it's a caress from a god. The times when, in meeting for worship, I begin to tremble because the whole world is filled with joy--that drinkable Light from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader I wrote about the other day.

How about the fact that my capacity for joy has grown so much over the past year? I can feel it--I'm bigger inside than I used to be. I feel more alive--and I think I'm kinder, too.

My Trials:
I keep falling off the mountain. There I am, feeling all cool and groovy and at one with Life and the Spirit...and then I get a headache, or I stay up too late surfing the Web, or I am mildly inconvenienced by some trivial household muck-up... and suddenly, there she is again: Bitchycat, same as ever.

I can go from 0 to 100 mph in lost temper. And while my brakes are getting better, I still frequently neglect to apply them in time. I hate how easily I let myself slide into self-righteousness, sloth, denial, and flat out cussedness. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

Oh, yeah. I also hate how every growth experience I've ever had has been wonderful, glorious, a cause for great hindsight. At the time, I mostly feel tired, cranky, stupid beyond belief, mad at the gods and the whole world.

Growth is not graceful. I always remember it as if it were, once I've done some growing, but it's never fun at the time. Oh yeah! And the worst part? I'm never done--just when I think I've turned out pretty well, thank you very much, and you may bow down and worship my saintly wisdom now, ladies and gentlemen, I slip on another damned moral banana peel, and realize what an idiot I am all over again.

I really hate how it feels when I realize that I have not been faithful (to put it in Quakerese). And I really hate how hard it is to actually challenge myself, haul my butt off the couch, and try again to be faithful once I've figured that out.

Photo from Gluten Free Girl under Creative Commons License 2.5


Erik said…
I also hate how every growth experience I've ever had has been wonderful, glorious, a cause for great hindsight.

Tell it, sister! :)
mahud said…
Thanks for the kind words, Cat, and the plug. ;)

I wonder if I've really progressed much since I first began to take spirituality seriously (ten or 11 years ago or so).

I certainly do not experience any growth, at least none that I'm aware of. But I do experience a lot of pain that I find hard to overcome.

Regarding the article Quakers Ask: What Do We Believe, and Why?, I understood Quakers to be purely Christian. It was only after discovering your blog and doing a bit of research at wikipedia, that I discovered that wasn't true.
Honey said…
Is blogging ministry? I asked a Friend of mine if it was wriong to blog what was said at meeting, and she said in her opnion direct quotation should only be used with assent and that that would open up a whole can of worms if people considered they were being recorded for a future time. Therefore an essence of the meeting would be ok with my feelings about it but nothing specific, so I've sort of kept well clear.
We are what I'm trying to say accountable for everything we say and writing is much easier to hold someone to account for. The biggest trouble I've gotten into in my life were over letters I wrote, the power of words is so strong. But then again, the blog is known and understood generally to be a diary form of sometimes lucid sometimes random toughts, and so long as you keep in a good mix as you do.. it's up to your followers to read the wisdom they need to see and let go the rest..?
does that help or is it more waffle?!
- sm said…
Blogging can be a ministry, but does not have to be. It can be just something you do. I know Friends who have committees for their blogs, and Friends who don't. Not sure? Discernment's never wasted. :) But gosh, it's scary to ask for Friends to sit in discernment with one.

About the book on Pagan Quakerism which Jen Chapin-Smith is editing: Friends who are interested can contact her directly at jench1977 at hotmail dot com.

- Stasa
Michael said…

You wrote:

"My in-laws are thrifty people, who waste very little. One of the ways this gets reflected is in their careful use of leftovers....

"I hate leftovers."

Actually, I miss leftovers.

What I really mean is that I miss the time (before our move to Jacksonville) when Jim and I used to cooked at home at least 4-5 nights out of seven.

We would get together Saturday morning, Jim would pull out his cookbooks and HUGE file folders for recipes from online...and we would plan a week's menu and shopping.

We sometimes didn't follow the menu, but, at least, when we got home from work, we didn't have to figure out what to cook... and the ingredients were already there.

We always planned at least 2-3 nights of leftovers, and we always cooked twice as much as we needed.

Later in the week (or the next week), I would have the witchy challenge of figuring out which combos of leftovers might actually go together well in what we called either "Refrigerator Soup" or-- if it was leftovers from leftovers-- "Cream of Bottom Shelf."

Now, sadly, our contrary work schedules have us getting home late most nights. We are spending way too much, eating out on food that's not really our preferred diet, at the wrong time of night.

And so, no leftovers...or else they rot because we only cook once a week or so.


As to blogging ministry: I notice that the blog posts I regret or at least don't feel so great about after I've reread them are like the things I think about saying in spoken ministry yet keept to myself.

I try to use the same rule of thumb in blogging that I do in meeting for worship:

Don't post it just because it's clever or because I "feel strongly" about it.

Stop. Listen. Write it out long-hand and then type it the next day...if it doesn't stink by then.

Meanwhilst, thank you for the tag. I'm definitely going to have to let this one wait and season a bit before I post anything. But thanks, and

Blessed Be,
Bill Samuel said…
On the Daniel Burke article, I think it reflects the difficulty in capturing the real spirit of a group by interviewing a few people and doing a little reading. It does not appear he attended any Quaker worship in preparation for writing about Quakers.

Quakers believe in the importance of experience, and Burke didn't really experience Quakerism.

So you are left with a basically accurate article that may be interesting to non-Friends, but it feels shallow, not capturing the essence of Quakers, or any part of the Quaker community.
Erik said…
Hi Cat,
I am also sitting with your challenge for a time before I post; it's not one of those memes that lends itself to a quick response! (I am also hip-deep in work responsibilities - I fear the next six weeks will be very light on the blogging front...)

Thanks for the tag!

Yvonne said…
On trying to capture the essence of mystical experience in words - it's very difficult to do. The moment one tries to explain a feeling of universal love or connection, it just comes across as cheesy, unless it is embedded in context.

That's one of the things I love about your spiritual journey series, it conveys the feelings without ever descending into faux sentimentality. When you were talking about your invocation experience and the kiss, I totally wasn't expecting the narrative to take that turn. It made me think about something similar that happened to me, but I wasn't even aware of what I'd done until several years later!

I enjoy Mahud's blog too. Interesting that you should say you don't feel as if you've progressed much, Mahud - I felt like that for ages and then had a sudden growth spurt. It was very painful - so if pain equals growth, then I am sure you are growing, or at least expanding.

For what it's worth, I've just posted a light-hearted look at the journey on my blog, and thought you might enjoy it.

I think those of us on the boundary between traditions are being called to hold open the interstices between realities, or walk a knife-edge between the worlds, or something. Thank goodness there are traditions where this form of journey is accepted, even encouraged.
Michael said…
Cat, Dearest.

I haven't forgotten about this tag.

I'm slow on anything to do with The Empty Path, but I'll get there.


Michael said…
Cat, Dearest.

I haven't forgotten about this tag.

I'm slow on anything to do with The Empty Path, but I'll get there.



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