The question is, can you trust me. The answer may be No.
If I had wanted to be on time for this meeting I would not have stopped at the parish church to spend some time with God. One likes to talk to ones equals occasionally. I was kneeling at the altar rail, looking at the symbols of death, a plain wooden cross, and power. About one in four of the floor tiles around the communion table have little heraldic lions.
I probably don’t want to talk of quantum superposition, but even if I don’t understand it my idea of it makes a good metaphor. Until you measure them, electrons have several different positions, momentums, and spins, at the same time. Only when they are measured do they have one particular position. The idea of an atom like a solar system with electrons orbiting a nucleus is inaccurate.
In the same way, we look at each other, and evaluate. I look a bit rueful. Can you trust me? It could go either way. If we use words too soon, we create an Understanding, and then the electron has only one position, we know how things are and will be. We have a way of dealing with this- we sit in worship together, then someone ministers- but you are asking me to forestall that, with my letter before your meeting. I will not be at the meeting but my words will. Can they convince you to trust me?
I don’t want to be tolerated. That can’t work any more.
Nor should I talk about X-Men: Apocalypse. Cyclops, or Scott Summers, first appears in school with his eyes shut. His teacher rebukes him, and he is abashed. He goes to the toilet, and opens his eyes: laser beams shoot out and destroy the opposite wall. He goes to Professor Xavier’s school for the gifted, with his eyes bandaged so he will not hurt anyone or damage anything, and they give him a set of goggles made of sheets of ruby. Then he goes to fight the baddie, and worries that he cannot control his laser beams. But the idea is not to control them, but let them flow.
These are teenage lessons I have not yet learned. I am intense. Bandaging my eyes is not the answer.
I don’t want to make it all about me. I don’t know myself, and therefore I don’t know other people. I can see particular feelings, particularly if I know the precipitating situation, but not an overall character. I was privileged to speak to the very beautiful Alexis today. Around his thick, muscly right arm he has a single tattoo design from shoulder to wrist. He says after his achilles tendon snapped he had to wear a cast for twelve weeks, and has not yet recovered from the muscle wastage. Initially he was intending to walk forward and would walk on a diagonal, because he was unused to the weakness of his leg.
He does not meditate. He supposes that he does not have time. I told him I did not meditate because I was scared of it. Human kind cannot bear very much reality. He played semi-professional basketball at one time. On the court he was in the zone- not thinking, just doing, like the unnamed Tao do(Not-do). If he thought about it the moment would be gone. Time slowed down and he saw what someone would do before they did it.
I said, (I have seen this before but I think I am saying it more clearly and definitely) I have huge difficulty admitting to myself I have any difficulty with anything, or admitting I feel negative emotions about the outside world. I must be positive about it. There is a block in me, preventing me from thinking the thought consciously, and then attacking it as childish and ridiculous. If I go through a state of crying, being unable to speak, being paralysed, sometimes I can relax and say these things. Then, my inner light is speaking. I have come to these realisations through intense meditation and in meeting for worship- for which I am grateful.
Someone as charismatic, intelligent and strong-willed as I am would not be hiding in my living room had I not been damaged. Can you trust me? No. I am damaged. I admit it is unacceptable to shout angrily and personally at another person, but do not want to undertake not to do something equally intolerable, because my experience is of sometimes lacking control. One who cannot control themself must be controlled by others, possibly by exclusion. You will not be safe with me. I like to think I am worth the risk, but you might disagree.
Me not being there is a loss for you. I want your good. My intellect and my Love is at your service, even if once a year or even more often I go off on one. I am a good representative at Quaker conferences because there I relax my what-will-people-think, the petty-self, egoic judgment of self inhibiting my quotidian actions, and speak from my wholehearted integrated humanity. I am sublime. People love my ministry (when I have not just lost it).
I was looked after and supported far too much. “How are you?” says the sympathetic woman, and I say how upset and perplexed I am, maybe even get a bit teary. She sympathises, I feel better, we both gain from the transaction. Oops, am I being cynical? These words do not quite capture what was going on. I am in a state of spiritual growth, and talking things through can help get things clear in my mind, give a verbal understanding which is a springboard to further wordless understanding.
I don’t want to write because I don’t want to firm up The Understanding, the way of putting it. I don’t want to minimise the slightest of my faults, because the faults I say I will try to do better on may open up and swallow me again. I had not thought I would shout like that. Maybe you should exclude me. Maybe, with your distrust, it is not worth my while going back. People can grow apart, in worshipping groups as in marriages- trust once broken is hard to rebuild.
There is faith, hope and love. I have the greatest of these, and develop the others. One of the cards I want to play is Diversity and Inclusion, a hot topic among Friends at the moment. I was nervous of comparing my outsider status as trans with Alexis’ as Black, but he admitted there are parallels. No, Quakers are not all prosperous, educated and middle-class, though if you appear that way you may fit in better. Can you be diverse enough to include me? If this blog post, more bloggy than usual, thinking as I write, were what I was actually writing for Elders, I would try to put that more winsomely. Or, perhaps I could ask you to find some way to put it.
If Iain supports me, it is not because we are friends in the sense of people who have each other’s backs against the rest of the meeting, but that we have fellow-feeling as LGBT. We comprehend each other’s outsider status. He knows my hurt matters because of his similar hurts.
No, that’s not quite it, either. I am very reluctant to write to you, in words. Pre-lingual primate instincts answer whether I may be part of this group- or the Leadings of God. I seek my inner Light, which is risky. I think I am worth the risk. Do you?
You probably can’t trust me- trust me for what? You probably can’t trust me because you ask the wrong things of me. It seems you want me not to make you uncomfortable. I can’t guarantee to do that. People can get sensitised to individuals, and I may react in a way you don’t like. So you might see me sitting quietly, and wonder what on Earth is she going to do now?
And I don’t trust you, either. You excluded me without speaking to me. You wanted to discuss trans issues, then you wanted me not to say “This is who I am”. Andrew tells me the Meeting will not discuss trans issues further. I think this is a shame- with Iain, Heather and me our meeting was brilliantly placed to hear all the conflicting Truths, and find a synthesis, even a Leading. You cancelled the Greenbelt worship, your best outreach opportunity of the year, because you could not guarantee that in August there would be six people available to go; and then Andrew was talking of personal liability insurance, as if after 45 years the Festival was not organised enough to cope with the risks of an outdoor meeting for worship. There is a pattern here. How can you follow the Leadings of God if you are unwilling to take these risks?
I don’t know what leads you to be uncomfortable with me, but if you imagine I can’t tolerate others’ opinions some evidence of that might be around giving to beggars. I missed the start of the discussion group, because I was sharing deep understanding with F, who was revisiting the meeting having moved away. So I did not hear the arguments about not giving to beggars. I had heard them before: Cardiff city council made a presentation to Cytûn arguing you should not give charity to the homeless because it stopped them accessing services. I am with Francis: make eye contact, and give. After that, the discussion group became worship sharing. People must speak only once. No dialogue. But this was in June 2017! I am grateful that you have tolerated me for eighteen months after this outburst. It enabled me to continue experiencing worship in the Quaker way. But I don’t just want to be tolerated.
I am angry with you. I feel that writing an angry letter may be counter-productive.
Dear Prudence, open up your eyes
Dear Prudence, see the sunny skies
The wind is low, the birds will sing
That you are part of everything
Dear Prudence, won’t you open up your eyes?
I shouted, intemperately. This is not a good thing, particularly not during worship. A witness wrote, Personal feelings arose and spilled out into what can only be described as an angry provocation and response.
What can I say about this? I read the hypothesis that one purpose of consciousness was to lie. If the petty-ego consciousness believes “I am not an angry person, I want to advance the aims of the group” it makes it easier to convince others. I do not know myself, so I observe the evidence. I lost control in January 2019, and possibly I was too dogmatic in June 2017, brooking no disagreement. I can’t tell you I won’t lose control again.
I also observe that when I hurt people and break things, I am abashed. Afterwards, I regret it. That means that somewhere in this living process, this mass of feelings and desires we call “Abigail”, there is a desire not to do it again which may not be strong enough actually to prevent it. Possibly, pretending that I can prevent it might strengthen me to do so. I am averse to claiming I will not do it again because of my self-doubt and desire to be truthful.
Anger can be sublimated or denied. It can prevent us from acquiescing in injustice. We need better ways of including anger in our processes.
Right now I don’t trust that I can say anything that will not make things worse. That is why I want people outside the meeting involved. An outside view might provide clarity and relieve stuckness. I don’t want to pre-empt that.
So, what might I write to elders? I am willing to work on this, to give it my attention. If you have observed any good qualities in me, any service, leading, ministry or insight, do not write me off.