In December, I realised I have self-respect, for the first time in my life, and since then it has felt that I solidify. I am not at war with myself to nearly the same extent. I learn not to judge and deny my feelings. I grow and change. Then on Saturday I realised, that my question in this place, with these people, is not “How may I fit in?” but “How can I be myself, here, now?” It feels like one more liberation, on top of many.
I contain multitudes. There is so much of me that I have never accessed. One problem with associating with Quakers is that they tend to be highly intelligent, mature individuals who, while often profoundly counter-cultural still have the gifts for worldly success. So I hear of advanced degrees, and visit large houses: one woman apologised so prettily for the electric gates with camera, it was the previous owner’s idea and not hers, then showed off the huge kitchen, so beautifully appointed.
And I have thought that I am happy where I am, where I am is right for me, and these unsought gifts are so beautiful, and my healing is my labour and blessing. Now I feel upset when I hear Quaker ministry of how privileged we are, with our worldly success. Hmm. Upset- angry, sad- Envious. I was sitting on the Fulham Palace Road, outside a cafe, watching life go by, and I thought how much I want a car, to get where I want to go. I want that money.
I have no idea how to get it. I still feel bruised and hurt by work, which feels like it was an endless cycle of failure and humiliation ending in my despair and giving up. So, I am unsure how to deal with this;
and so, just possibly, my ministry in meeting on Saturday was ministry, for me and for others. Who could resist an audience like Meeting for Sufferings? There was that ministry about our privilege, and our large houses, and comfortable incomes, when we were reflecting on YM especially Minute 36.
I rose and said something like,
It is alright.
It is wonderfully liberating when you lose your dignity.
I am on the sick, on means-tested benefits.
I could lose all I have at any time (though so could most people)
There is the blessing. It is enough.
The minute was fairly dry, referring the matter to Arrangements Committee for more focused discernment at later meetings, but Isobel was moved by what I said, and would take it to Quaker Life Central Committee.
How strange, to say something so movingly Spiritual from a place of envy and desire for material things! That was Saturday, and I have only admitted my envy today (Tuesday) after further conversations on that Quakerly prosperity which I do not have. I admit it. It is me, and shame about it would do no good; though what I do about it may be good or bad.