What I might want to say to Elders

I want to be valued. My gifts, service and essential worth deserve to be valued.

I know it is not good to boast, or speak as a fool, and three times at Greenbelt I organised a valuable outreach event which now, apparently, you can’t. As clerk I opened the space for the group to come to decisions all could accept, after the previous clerk resigned membership having tried to force his own decisions through. I am good with words, as demonstrated by my articles in the Friend and my ministry affecting YM minutes. So I have made a valuable contribution at gatherings of Quakers, on Outreach, on Quaker Life, on LGBT, and on Inclusion.

I want your good, and I dare to imagine that local and area Quaker meetings would be better with me in them. I would like a reconciliation process, involving Friends from outside the AM, to see if I might be enabled to contribute to my meeting with my presence, my Love, articulacy, expressiveness, intellect and other gifts.

So I have to address the difficulties with including me. Some have been explained to me, and some have not. I might do that better face to face than in a letter. The word “dangerous” applied to me shows the strength of feeling, and I do not want to deny that feeling. Nor do I demand that it be articulated and justified; but I feel that our human relationships might be healed, so that the feeling was less strong. The Spirit helps us in our weakness. Andrew does not think anyone fears physical violence from me; possibly it is that you find me doctrinaire or overbearing. Possibly it is discomfiting that I present female and people understand courtesy, or something, to require that I be seen as such, while I behave in such mannish ways. Does my poverty affect how you see me?

Andrew wrote, after reading this, “I was speaking on my own account and not presuming the feelings of others”.

There are diversity and inclusion issues around my exclusion. The YM is considering Inclusion, and this process could be a valuable part of that.

I feel that seeing each other more clearly and admitting our discomfiture deepens community. So a process with the possible outcome of including me again might be good, in many different ways.

I might also be seen as a problem because of the depth of my distress and damage. That is for me to deal with. My meetings have given me a great deal of support, and considering how to be with such distress may be creative and healing. I feel I can contribute to the consideration. How can we be with each others’ pain? How can we be with the whole human being, gift and pain, discernment and blind spots, strength and vulnerability?

Part of the difficulty of committing to such a process, for you, could be concern that you had to justify your decision to exclude me. So perhaps I should justify it. After other incidents, and warnings, I had shouted angrily at your Friend, whom you value. You have the responsibility to work for the good of the meeting, which you sought when you made the decision. However you reassured me that the decision did not immediately affect my membership of the AM, so the question arises, what to do next. I would like to be part of the process of decision. You asked me not to attend, but did not state how long that might apply. These are issues which could fruitfully be addressed.

You might wonder if I fully understand the gravity of my wrongful conduct over the last eight years, how it has affected others, or how problematic that makes my attending meeting. Perhaps I don’t, and that would have to be considered during the process. I doubt I could convince you that I did, by enumerating incidents in a letter. What can I say? I know all that stuff matters. I might not understand quite how much. I may have learned from it, though too slowly. Quakers say, In worship together we can find the assurance of God’s love and the strength to go on with renewed courage. I would like to try that with you.

This is heavy and difficult. I don’t want to minimise the difficulty when I express my desire to engage with it. I want to be valued, and that is for me to address. I am hurt deeply, and it is for me to heal myself. I don’t want vindication, but community. I feel we might bless ourselves and others in a reconciliation process.

4 thoughts on “What I might want to say to Elders

  1. My reading of the problem is the YM does not or can not walk in your shoes. On the other hand, your Meeting, while not still not being able to walk in your shoes, at least sees you doing so. That privilege is is not available to YM. All they see is the hurt/pain that results and cannot understand the cause. Empathy is inversely proportional to distance.

    A criticism of modern liberal Quakerism might be that they occasionally forget the true meaning of peace and the process of moving towards it. This applies more within than without. Isolating a disturbance to bring an apparent peace is not the answer.


    • I have the support and care of Friends outside my AM, and am isolated by those within. Those without see my good qualities, those within see things I say and the way I say them, or my interactions, which lead them to drive me out.

      I think we make it to peace through the pain. Finding our shadow is painful. I have a harmful way of focussing drama on myself. Meeting can heal pain, or perhaps amplify it. If it becomes all about me, my exclusion may allow others to heal their own pain. It may rebalance the Meeting. Or, it may allow them to forget their pain of which I remind them.

      “No-one is good. Not even one.”

      Liked by 1 person

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