Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Late afternoon in the office cube

Picture me, sitting here, long after the rest of the work-day folks have slipped away (except the young phone-bank student-workers who are calling prospective students in a separate area - when they aren't having snacks and loud conversations in the nearby kitchen nook).

I took a break from some work I'm trying to get done this afternoon, and an hour melted away with the reading of recent blog posts from you all out there. I haven't quite got the rhythm of how much time feels right to spend reading and commenting, but I'm getting better at knowing when it feels right to comment, and when I can slide on by. But I haven't been writing my own blog for a while.

I've had a couple of possible blog posts come into my head and not quite materialize. One was a rather somber post about a trial starting yesterday in Syracuse, NY, for the accused killer of a young trans woman, Teish Green. The described murder was chilling, but it was also chilling to note how little publicity this event (last November) got - likely both because the victim was trans, and because the victim and the accused were both Black. (I came across this situation through this post by Peter Toscano - who educates me in my efforts to be a GLBTQ+ ally with his witty and clear-eyed posts).

Another blog I didn't write circled around quakerblogs, and why mine isn't one, exactly. Of course, many blogs by Quakers are like any other blogs: some serious, some witty, some warm and personable. But behind the scenes, I think, is the centuries-long tradition of spiritual journals written by Quakers to do inner scrutiny and also to give guidance and support to others.

A religious tradition that's somewhat short on theology and long on individual experience lends itself to the use of spiritual journals as guidebooks. It's not the "belief" that is important, but the life and actions that are shaped by convictions and by the Light that comes from - inside? above? - somewhere both intimate and objective.

OK - that was the gist of the unwritten post. I guess it will take a while to get myself clear on a definition or description of my spiritual orientation, and it's sometimes a bit heavy going to both write or read. And it's more fun to just chat about what's happening in my world.

There's room for some of both, perhaps?


ellen abbott said...

This is a great post Mary Ellen (my aunt's name, did I tell you that? also for whom I am named).

There is definitely room for both. I have been on the same journey, trying to describe my spiritual self, orientation since I was about 18. I find a lot of good that I relate to in many traditions but still, there is no name in my head. I'm OK with that. I've begun to think that that is the right and good way.

Elizabeth said...

Hi Mary Ellen: Thanks for inviting me to read your blog! Looks like you've got all sorts of interesting inquiries going on in here... I look forward to reading it more! It was great meeting you in person this weekend... keep in touch!


Leone said...

Thanks Mary Ellen for your comments and suggestions. I have done a lot of art journaling with magazines, most of what I've done is in books and hidden away. What I am doing now is creating things that are being shown. Being open as opposed to hiding.
Thank you also for noticing the juxtipostion of the roses.

I am really intriqued and look forward to reading your possible blog posts if you decide to write them. I always enjoy reading your posts and enjoy the great pictures you take - especially the fireworks video.

Laoch of Chicago said...

I am sure you will compose interesting posts in the months to come.

Cat Chapin-Bishop said...

"A religious tradition that's somewhat short on theology and long on individual experience lends itself to the use of spiritual journals as guidebooks."

Thank you! I have not been able to articulate this to myself this clearly before. I think it's an important idea. Thank you for framing it so clearly!

Reya Mellicker said...

Blogging can be anything, you know that right? A glimpse of the world through your eyes, no matter whether that's a planned and edited post or just stream of consciousness or something inbetween.

I visit and read other blogs when I have time and a big cup of tea. I figure the blog world is kind of like a party. You can't hope to talk to everyone, so you just do what you can, let go of the rest.

Love the cube pic. Man. I don't miss that world!!

Cam said...

There is absolutely room for both! Sometimes I just space out, and write about incredibly mundane things. Other times, these words of wisdom and strength that I wasn't aware I possessed will just come pouring out. I like to think I tap into some golden vein of knowledge on those nights, some primal or spiritual wavelength that lends itself to us occasionally.

I love to read your words, simple or saturated...
It's all good to me!

Mary Ellen said...

Thanks, folks! I've been blog surfing and commenting for the past couple of days. That feels fine. Maybe I'm a more-or-less weekly poster. I'll see!

Mel said...

The only trouble with not posting often is that I end up missing you and then getting grumpy with myself because I enjoy your posts so very much!! Never mind..I'm here now!!

Well, you know my thoughts on time and the blogosphere...starting to find balance with that now and feeling much more settled in it...thank you for your thoughts on the situation...

I am delighted to read whatever you write...I am extremely interested in Quakerism as I had only a vague notion of what it was, not the least of which involved a bag of oatmeal and man in a jaunty hat...so I am ALL EARS (well, eyes, I suppose) and have found everything you've written so far to be incredibly interesting and if I'm to learn about the Quaker faith, then I want to learn about it from you....the openness and lack of judgment intrigues me as you don't find that much in most faiths..even the pagan community is rife with foolishness in that regard..*sigh*...anyway, this is turning into an essay but you're my last stop - I save my favourites 'til the end, sorta like saving a delicious treat so you can savour it, unhurried and uninterrupted...


PS. I'm a big fan of Elmo...amongst the typically didactic nature of most children's entertainment, Elmo has a certain street-cred that appeals to me...;)

Lisa said...

I've just discovered you after you commented on my blog. Thank you for your insightful and calm comments. I look forward to reading you to get to know you better.

I've noticed that as a non-believer, I have quite a few Quaker friends. I find their approach to spirituality to be very approachable.

Thank you for making yourself known so that I could find you blog. I know what you mean about balancing reading/writing/life. I'm wrestling with it right now as I type this on my lunch hour so that I can't be guilty of "stealing time" from my employer.

Madame DeFarge said...

There is room for both, room for all sorts of blogging. You write truthfully and clearly and that's always worth reading, no matter what is written.

Anonymous said...

When I first began blogging, a very wise Scandinavian stopped me in my tracks with the epigraph at the beginning of her blog: "If I don't have anything to say, I won't say it".

That was the word of permission I needed to set out in the way that seemed best, knowing that I really wasn't a "blogger", but a writer using a blogging platform. It takes time to produce my essays, and it's pretty much a full-time job, at least in the sense that even if I'm not writing an essay, I'm thinking about it.

My paradigm for blogging in the beginning was pretty easy: notice something, think about it, write about it - not always in that order, and in varying degrees. I still stand by that, but have added one thing: take comments seriously. I'll often read a blog (such as I have here) several times before I come back to comment. I try to use the same rule: if I don't have something to say, I won't say it ;-)

I've enjoyed roaming around and really look forward to your future posts. They're so obviously an expression of you as a person - that's so important.

Kim said...

I'm not sure I like the image of you sitting there after everyone else has gone home--unless you're blogging. I much prefer the memory I have of you walking around my back yard at Erin's party last summer, blowing bubbles.

Several people at my Meeting seem to greatly enjoy exploring the topic "What is a Quaker?" They then try to fit themselves, and sometimes others, into that shape. Why the yearning for rules? Is it human nature to want that? Is it due to a lack of trust in the truth that emerges out of the silence--or an inability to truly experience the silence in the first place? Interesting to observe how a small meeting changes over time and is affected by the individuals who attend.

Looks like a nice day for bubbles. Maybe you could really live it up and get some Crabby Patty gummies, too.

Anonymous said...

hi there~ i really like what you've written here and would be very interested to read both of those blog posts you mention. i appreciate and feel the same way about your feelings about the case with the trans person's murder case and i think it's great you want to write about it. and your wanting to be a glbtq ally. our world needs so much more of this attitude. and i'm super interested in what you wrote about quakerism. i've only ever heard of it, but really know nothing about it. i've always had a problem with faith that emphasizes "creed" over "deed". to me, why should it matter what you believe in, over the actions you take daily. i mean, i do consider thoughts actions too. but whether or not i believe in a god or something seems to me beside the point, if i'm sitting around thinking mean or judgemental thoughts, or especially acting that way, then doesn't that have far more reaching results on my environment and those around me? so i really like what you said about quakerism and it's emphasis on introspection, self-analysis, journaling, etc. neat-o! :)

oh, and i found your blog by way of mel's from clutter to shine. i really liked your comment on her post about grief~