Sunday, June 26, 2011

I spoke in meeting today

I have been home from Africa/Turkey for three weeks now and I have gotten flummoxed every time someone asked me how my trip was except when my family asked how my brother is and then I just got annoyed. In general though, I traveled across the most intensively different landscape I have ever traveled and felt tongue tied to explain, describe, refer to or anyway capture what that means. A travel writer I am not. That was true until today.

I go to Quaker meeting. I am not a member so not actually a Quaker, but I have attended meeting fairly consistently since October 2007. It is significant that I remember the date or time period as I have an epically awful memory for the timeline of my life, but I remember starting attending Quaker meeting because I went to see if something, anything could help abate my endemic cynicism. The Philadelphia meeting was literally around the corner from my apartment so I could not claim inconvenience for not going, there is no hierarchy to the Society of Friends or a requirement to believe in "God", so I could not claim oppression of belief structure. The purpose of meeting is to listen. You can interpret that any way you would like, but that is what you are there to do and I needed to listen.

This morning, on the way to meeting, I was thwarted by a 10K that had blocked off the roads that would have brought me to meeting. I got siphoned into Chinatown and had to break out the Android to help me get to meeting. I arrived deeply frustrated.

So I tried to listen and tried the chant my friend taught me to get me to a better place. It only kinda worked. Then people in meeting started speaking and it made me think about what it took to get there. That made me think about being in Nairobi and the matatu nearly running my friend over and the checkpoints that were just as likely to be bribe takers as they were to be security checkpoints and I realized that as I was annoyed at being siphoned off into Chinatown by police along with thousands of other car drivers who didn't know how to get out of there without worrying that it was a fix or there to annoy Sunday drivers, it was in fact a moment to reflect on the fact that we do it well. That we can give thanks that there is enough trust and faith in our system that we believe that roadblocks serve a greater purpose than to get us lost and that we can figure our way out of the unfamiliar neighborhood and that we have created a society where the above is the assumption and that is something to notice and be grateful for.

So I spoke in meeting today, trying to convey that and I hope I feel less flummoxed when someone asks me how my trip was. It was amazing.