Thursday, February 28, 2008

Becoming an Obedient Quaker even though my Meeting openly dislikes the term

This last week in meeting, I was doing my ordinary thing of sitting there trying not to think of anything in particular. I could say that I do this to hear the Voice of God over my own internal chatter but actually, I do this to avoid hearing the Voice of God. As it turns out, when I begin to think, the words shimmy themselves into a message and then I find my palms sweating and my heart beating in my ears and I feel compelled to give that message. Usually, it is a message that I don't want to give and often afterwards, I have a hard time remembering just what I said at least in the particulars. So I was sitting there thinking how I might just get through this meeting without having to embarass myself in front of these people I barely know.

I shudder to think of what they must be thinking of me. They probably think I'm a fruitcake for speaking so frequently. Maybe not a fruitcake...Maybe they just think I'm arrogant. And I am arrogant about a good many things but not about this. I speak publicly as a profession, but I sure as hell don't want to speak in front of them in that context. When I speak in public as a part of my career, I am in charge of what comes out of my mouth. I'm in control. What happens to me in meeting is like losing control and vomiting spirituality on strangers. It sucks. I don't like it at all. And I wouldn't come back if it weren't for my children who I wish to consecrate to the Friends (a story for another post) but I don't need this! I was very happy being a solitary feminist Pagan with a firm background in liberation and feminist Christian theology. That suited me just fine, thank you very much.

I'm not sure what to think about the meeting we attend. We haven't really made friends of the Friends even after these many months of attendance. I smell the vague wafting stench of disapproval among them. I don't know from whence it comes but it is there. This is a tiny group and I cannot get away from the strong sense that we are outsiders. Also, I'm having trouble adjusting to the silent worship thing. The clock on the wall is broken now so I can't even look to that to help me survive the hour of stomach rumbling, thigh-shifting, nasal whistling silence. If they have thoughts in their heads, why don't they share them? Wouldn't the discipline of conversation move them forward more quickly than the discipline of silence?

The other Friends rarely speak in my meeting.They sit there silently week after week (spoken messages are very rare in this group) and then I waltz in and disrupt all their dignified quiet with my ramblings. I honestly don't even remember what I said last week...oh no, wait.. It was about how I want the world to know Friends by their love and not for their words or what they believe or who they worship or why (issues of theology) but that when there is pain in the world, they are there because they are in love with the world. I don't even know if it made sense. I finished and then to my horror realized I wasn't finished because my heart kept pounding in the unpleasant manner and I had to open my mouth and dribble out a few more words. God, how awful.

A few weeks back I tried to explain this to the other Friends in our Quakerism 101 class because I wanted to benefit from their older, more experienced Quakerness. I made the mistake of referring to my reaction to this phenomenon as "obedience." The choice of this word meant a lot to me because I am not known for my obedience. In fact, I am known for being an asshole when it comes to authority figures. Now don't get me wrong. I am not some kind of rule-breaking hellion. I was always a good girl with a firm respect for disciplined behavior. The thing is that I like to be the one who determines the discipline. I wanted to obey my parents but when they gave me direct commands, I had a difficult time with compliance. We got around this problem because I anticipated their requests and fulfilled them before they asked so I wouldn't feel the need to tell them to stuff it. It is a matter of principle with me. I can't even be civil to doctors when they attempt to tell me what to do. I throw away prescriptions just because I won't be bossed. I consciously avoid judges, police officers and others because I would probably go to jail just for being an insufferable ass. So I don't like to be obedient. Well, maybe I'm not really all that unreasonable but you get the idea.

When I used the word "obedience" in reference to speaking in meeting, a Friend said she thought that was an unacceptable word. I forget just how she phrased it but it was clear that she was disturbed by my word choice. She may as well have yelled, "YUCK!" and hit me upside the head. I left that meeting feeling embarassed, unheard, angry and disillusioned.

But you know, I think she was wrong to admonish me. I think it is obedience that I am feeling when I speak in meeting. I think that given my personality and my reluctance to surrender power and authority to another, it may serve the Universe/God/dess/Great Spirit/Beloved to drag me by the short hairs to witness. There is certainly a great deal of literature that suggests that not everyone comes to spiritual message with lots of pleasant feelings. Hildegard of Bingen got migraine headaches. Moses had burning bushes (ouch). I have to try not vomit on my shoes when I open my mouth. Am I comparing myself to Hildegard and Moses? Sure. Why not? We're all of us just people. It is the Divine speaking through us. The message could flow through anyone. It doesn't make me more important. Now Moses and Hildegard did many other things and I wouldn't dare claim I can touch the fringes of their levels in terms of historical and cultural importance. But when it comes to opening your mouth obediently when the Spirit nudges you (hard in my case..."ooomph...Hey!" then we are sharing a common bond of humanity. The Spirit moves us. It shapes us. It surprises us, upholds us, informs us, inspires us. It even pisses us off. Those of us with arrogant souls may just need to learn the lesson of obedience because it does not come naturally to us to speak from spirit instead of power. Call it Divine tough love.


Liz Opp said...

Hi, there--

I have often felt that many Friends in my meeting don't care for the more traditional language I use--obedience, discipline, gospel order--so I can relate to that part of your struggle.

Recently I shared with a group of Friends that we are called to be faithful to the direction of the Spirit, not to the preferences of those in the faith community.

I'm not sure how that went over!

All that aside, it sounds like you are on a difficult journey for the time-being, both for being obedient to the Spirit and for beginning to labor with those in the meeting who are willing to engage with you respectfully.

I'll plan to check back here from time to time.

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

Anonymous said...

I hear how hard this is. First, because a tiny meeting may not have the resources to guide you, and may not be familiar with traditional practices of clearness and eldering. Our meeting was very tiny for YEARS. There were 4 adults. So my husband and I learned to go out to the Yearly Meeting for spiritual guidance.

Second, I'm really sorry to hear you meeting has no experience with obedience to Divine will. (Or God, or Jesus, or however you describe this).Obedience is such a crucial element in Conservative Quaker language, that it sounds odd to hear that it offends others. It was obedience that kept me attending meeting for worship, when it was just myself on First Day. Obedience is what sends me to attend other meetings and feed people and all kinds of stuff that cause non Quakers to look at me strangely.

As for your vocal ministry. I would suggest relaxing if you can. One and only one of the several reasons for vocal ministry is to deliver messages for others. Another is to articulate a message given to yourself. This is where the process of eldering should come in. Reassurance is called for at these times.

Not remembering what you say is typical for me as well. I tend to cry during and after vocal ministry. (the ministry can be about just about anything, I cry no matter what). I have been very fortunate though, in having elders in the Yearly meeting approach me after and let me know when a message was for them.

Try not to be too harsh with your meeting, when there are very few, having to hold onto anything and keep the meeting going is very difficult. Volunteer for responsiblities, and feed them. It works for me.


cath said...

You have followed your heart and the prompting placed there. I hope you won't let outside review curb your wish to be obedient to the Spirit.

Not every message is meant to be heard by every ear. If a person has a stumbling block with your language, that person may not be the intended recipient of your message.

I had a similar experience once when I was visiting a Meeting and made the *mistake* of using the words "God" and "Spirit," and also mentioning that sometimes I appreciate the bible.

This was during a fellowship meal, and I saw forks pause on their way to mouths. :)

Humans tend to seek out people with whom they share a POV, so it's not surprising that a Meeting will have a set of assumptions about language, how often to speak, etc.

Every now and then, however, a group needs to be able to open up to something different--or it won't grow, spiritually and physically.

Perhaps God is using you to be an agent of change right now.

At any rate, being true to yourself is, IMO, a good policy.


HysteryWitch said...

These comments are comforting. I do not expect anyone to come to me after meeting and comment on my message but perhaps in time people in my meeting will feel comfortable speaking to me in general. Now it feels so awkward to share one of the most intimate and spiritual experiences of my life during meeting with people who can't think of anything to say to me over the post-meeting crackers! LOL Or maybe it is my own discomfort that is the issue. Maybe I'm the one who can't think of anything to say. Perhaps what I need most is time.

Liz Opp said...

Again, I can relate to your experience. It may be that people in your meeting truly don't know how to affirm if one was well led to speak in meeting. Maybe they themselves never had a Friend approach them after offering a message, to say, "Thee was faithful" or "Your message spoke to my condition."

I also have been advised that Friends may avoid talking with me because they find me intimidating--especially when I speak from a place of anguished concern or even judgment, rather than out of deep love.

I have taken this counsel to heart and have "let the Light search me" so that I might understand more of who and how I am when speaking among Friends in the meeting, be it through offering vocal ministry or at an adult education program or during fellowship time.

At other times, I have been able to hold myself and the meeting--or individual Friends with whom I struggle--in the Light, day after day, trusting that God will help me/us do the inward and outward work that is required.

Hang in there, HW, and stay close to the Root. Let us know how you are doing, if you are open to that.

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

Anonymous said...

Liz, Thee speaks my mind

Mary M

Anonymous said...

Dear Friend,
I also want to encourage you to hang in there with Quakerism, but not necessarily with your particular Meeting. Meetings have very different identities and "feelings." You have young children, yet it sounds like this meeting is very small and likely has few children as well? I started my Quaker journey in a sizeable Meeting that was also older in its demographic. Very few children. It was also a formal group who were not very welcoming. In time, I found my way to a much larger Meeting with many children and a large range of ages. It has been a much more comfortable place for me and my children.

I realize that depending on where you live, you may not have this choice. I have also heard of groups of people that have started their own, new Quaker Meetings when the local Meeting available didn't suit them.

My one last comment: I have a new friend in our Meeting who struggles with what he says as imperfections and inconsistencies in how people behave/speak etc. in our Meeting. I find myself reminding him that we are all human and while the ideals of Quakerism are so lovely and important to many of us, we are all humans, and we don't always reflect the best of this rich spiritual tradition.

Sending Peace . . .

HysteryWitch said...

I have wondered if the presence of my children is problematic. They are the only children in the meeting and there is no place for us to have a First Day School. Their father and I take turns either playing with them outside in warm weather or hanging out with them in the hall outside the meeting room, trying to keep them quiet. Lately, I've been asking my parents to care for the children when we go to meeting because it is so difficult to keep three young children hushed for so long and especially difficult if there are planned events such as a class or meeting for business following worship.

On one occasion, a woman said sympathetically to me that it must be difficult to care for a "special needs child." I didn't know what to say as none of my children are special needs children! Goofy and spirited children sometimes, but not "special needs." I wasn't even sure which one she meant but I figured it was whichever one appeared to her to be having the most difficult time sitting still that day.

I also would truly love potluck suppers and family picnics and other informal fellowship events that would allow us to become a part of a greater family. When I was a kid in my Dad's churches, the meals and other fellowship activities were such a big part of our religious life as a community. I miss that.

Unfortunately, all the meetings that are within a reasonable driving range (less than hour away) are programmed meetings. I am willing to try that but I'm not comfortable with the possibility given our level of "heterodoxy." Will we fit in anywhere?

Lone Star Ma said...

I was the only person with a kid in our tiny Meeting for a long time and there was some trouble early on - but it got better. now there are even more kids, and we are all more accepting of each other. Way will open.

Liz Opp said...

HW, in your comment you write: I have wondered if the presence of my children is problematic. They are the only children in the meeting and there is no place for us to have a First Day School.

I want to caution you from interpreting other Friends' discomfort as the presence of your children being "problematic." My guess is that since fewer and fewer Friends are familiar with the fading custom of having young children attend MfW the entire time, more and more Friends think that what is "normal" or "acceptable" is having the children leave MfW.

I know I have had a change of heart and mind since the worship group I am a part of has sought ways to have the children among us for a slightly longer time than the monthly meeting does. But it's taken some time and patience and inward discipline on my part.

The other thing that happened is that an ally to the parents in the worship group suggested that those of us who are NOT parents take turns being with the children for childcare, in order to allow parents to become more fully integrated into worship.

Sometimes the parents make the request, "Who is willing to be with the kids today?" and sometimes it is a non-parent who makes the request or ultimately volunteers.

It is a tricky business, though, to help the meeting see that everyone in it is responsible for everyone in it--parents, children, nonparents alike.

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

HysteryWitch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HysteryWitch said...

Let's try again! LOL

To be fair to my monthly meeting, I can see that they are openly welcoming of the children and willing to play with them and talk to them. They have discussed First Day school plans and have suggested taking turns with the childcare responsibilities.

What is problematic for me is that I don't really know or trust the other members and attenders at my meeting enough to allow them to work more closely with my children. Their distance from me makes me unwilling to trust them alone with my children.

As I write this, I see that I need to work harder to reach out to them! Granted, I am unused to the fellowship style this group has. They don't seem to laugh much or eat together. I'm not used to the lack of spirited conversation. They all seem to know each other well but I can't for the life of me figure out how. And I can't seem to figure out how to get to know them...

Perhaps I am the one is who aloof. I am afraid that my children and I will be judged and rejected and am behaving as if that is the case. Hmmm. Work to do. Work to do.

Liz Opp said...

HW, thanks for your honesty here. And let me be the first to say how much I can relate to the experience of feeling like the meeting (or an individual) isn't responding to me in the way I had hoped, only to find that my own behavior is contributing to my frustration.

Arrrgh! Someone help me get this plank out of my eye! smile

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

HysteryWitch said...

LoL! How irritating it is to find that plank in my eye! I would so prefer that everything was someone else's fault. Ah well. Such is life. I have found this conversation very liberating.

This does seem to go along with learning to become an obedient Quaker. In fact, I have been uncomfortable with this title because I keep asking myself: Am I a Quaker? Do I dare call myself a Friend?

Sometimes I maintain that I am not convinced because others have not convinced me that this is the best path for me. I tell myself that perhaps my spirituality is too independent, too large to be contained within a "label." But you know, I think that my real fear is that others will see me as a "poser" and that they will laugh me out of the meetinghouse. That is what I fear when I speak. I am afraid that others will hear me and say to each other on the way out, "Who the hell does she think she is?"

How can this fear be healthy? Well, I don't know but I know that the fear exists and that something in me has decided that it was time to move beyond my individualistic search for spiritual fulfillment and move toward a community. I am willing to exist with this fear which shows me that I may be ready for a community. But oh! what a pain a community can be! But all of us must labor in pain to bring forth new life, right?

I have intellectualized my spirituality in recent years as I have jumped through academic hoops. At some point in that process, I began to objectify the process and to demand that it conform to rational arguments. I learned to discount my experience when I could not explain it (as if I was ever clever enough to truly explain spirituality!)

But now I must ask myself, Who calls this individualistic non-theistic Pagan to meet with Friends? Who calls me to speak? Who gave me my calling when I was a child and has driven me ever since? What Love compels me to move past my fears to share so deeply with these strangers? Do I really have to explain it or justify it? Can't I just let it happen?

Will I continue to be distrustful and suspicious in the midst of this great gift? As the Light shines on my life do I really wish to keep my eyes shut tight muttering, "I don't believe it. I won't believe it! And it is all their fault anyway!"

Cat Chapin-Bishop said...

Hey, hysterywitch! I have been following this thread with some interest, and I really feel for you in your struggle. I'm so glad that more seasoned Friends than I am have been able to find words to wrap around this with you.

One piece of this discussion that spoke to me particularly was your mention of how difficult it has been to begin to feel connected to the members of your meeting during fellowship. This spoke to me on a couple of levels:

First, it awoke in me vivid memories of how hard I found it, for the first couple of years of attending my rather large meeting, to feel comfortable with the fellowship after worship. Partly that was because emerging from worship is a lot like coming out of a very warm, bright place, and suddenly feeling very cold and off balance. One recent experiment at my meeting has helped a lot with that experience--we now keep the worship room available for those who want to continue in extended worship or worship sharing after rise of meeting. So I no longer feel like I have to emerge from the warmth of worship quite so quickly. Having time to transition from deep worship to social conversation has been really helpful!

Another early disappointment of mine you may, perhaps, share. I know you have not been entirely at ease in the Pagan community, though, so perhaps not... In any case, I find that there's a real contrast to how Pagans and Quakers transition out of worship. After a deep and effective ritual among Pagans, there's usually a bonfire,or maybe just a warm circle of candles, and people tend to linger and talk. The sense of intimate connection that was created in worship lingers, too, and I know that I find it much easier to get to know members of a Pagan community because of this--there's usually a lot of really intimate sharing and discussion that goes on. So often, I've known all kinds of things about someone's spiritual longings, their childhood loves and bruises, and even their sexual awakening, before I've known their last names!

Among Quakers, it is quite different. In worship, Friends are of course largely silent, but after worship, the conversations tend toward the social and inconsequential. Where a Pagan is reflecting aloud on what was happening for him or her inwardly in ritual, the Quaker is more likely pulling out a calendar and making an appointment with a committee, or talking about something that happened to them at work. It is afraid that, if we are not led by Spirit, we're afraid to speak powerfully or intimately at all!

Happily, I do not find that that feeling extends into the blogosphere. Happily, too, I have learned that many of the Friends in my own meeting, at least, had longed just as I had for conversations about more intimate and personal topics. (I vividly remember one long-time attender of our meeting, when we held an after-meeting discussion group on the topic of what, exactly, we each experienced within meeting for worship, expressing her surprise that we could talk about this together... She had somehow come to feel that it wasn't "allowed.")

In fact, I've learned that many of the members of our meeting felt somewhat uncomfortable with the way the transition from worship to fellowship usually went. Over the last couple of years, our meeting has begun talking about that and actively seeking ways to make it easier for people to feel connected to one another, and also to create a culture that supports deep worship and ministry. I think we're making some progress, but I know I'm grateful that I wasn't the only one who felt as I did, and that others also put their discomfort into words.

My point, I think, is that it can be difficult to find a language to be present to one another once we have left worship behind. During worship, one can feel so open, so loving, and so connected--and these are not feelings that are acceptable in most places in our worlds. In silence, we can hear one another's hearts, sometimes, but without the words of connection after rise of meeting, it's easy to doubt. Was the love I felt toward this person or that person real, or just an illusion? Are we really all caught up together in God, or is that a lie we tell ourselves, and if we "really" knew each other, we wouldn't like each other? It has taken me quite a while to realize that, yes, the feelings that we have for one another during worship are real and trustworthy. The purely social language that we tend to default back to in fellowship makes it all to easy to doubt, but, as I've gotten to know members of my community outside of worship more deeply, it becomes clearer and clearer that the connections are real ones.

How did I finally start making those connections? Well, in my case, support from the blogosphere, where even the shy and meek can be eldered lovingly by those more seasoned than we, helped a lot. I was afraid to speak deeply of matters that were on my heart in my cold, linoleum-floored fellowship room for quite some time, but bloggers here encouraged me.

And committees helped. And attending Yearly Meeting helped. And getting to know, bit by bit, parts of the stories of the members of my meeting helped: I try never to miss a Spiritual Journey discussion (a tradition in our meeting where one person gives a kind of spiritual autobiography chat after fellowship is done).

But also, life details of aging members of meeting have engaged my heart deeply: when a member of our meeting was widowed, I found myself holding her in prayer each week, and I wept in joy when she returned to meeting after being absent after her husband's death... When another member was hospitalized, or learned of a relative's illness... all those life details awoke in me compassion that made me want to be closer to them, and encouraged me to hold them in the Light during worship.

Much to my surprise, I find that experience not only has made me feel more connected to the members of my meeting and to my meeting community, but to God. In fact, one of my best centering techniques at present is, as each person arrives in meeting, to welcome them in my heart into meeting. Sometimes, when I know someone is carrying a heavy load, just seeing them in their place creates the most amazing softening in me... and then, the next thing you know, I'm full of Light, and there's God. Again!

I see I have written a book. Forgive me if it's too much! And thanks for reading to the end, if you've gotten that far.

Blessed be,
Cat Chapin-Bishop
Quaker Pagan Reflections

Friendly Mama said...

I agree that the Friends was wrong to censor you.
I feel very lucky (blessed, if you will) by my spiritual community: Even when they don't relate to the words I use (like obedience) I feel supported and accepted. One Friend said she once heard another Friend say something to the effect of "Speak whatever words are comfortable. Listen in tongues" and that's the attitude of support and love that carries us through differences in word meanings and understandings. I'm very grateful.

Here's a blogpost I wrote on obedience a while ago:

Anonymous said...

Maybe it would be worth chiming in on the other side of the issue ... it can be a disconcerting experience when someone who lacks self-control stands up regularly and rattles off a "message" week after week. It sounds like you are uncomfortable with the silence, and that that is the reason you are speaking whatever comes into your head.

If it were actually coming from God, don't you think the reaction of the other Friends would be, not disapproval, but either abashedness or inspiration? When George Fox spoke he didn't "dribble" out words. He delivered tight messages with impact which shook the people present and elicited strong reactions, both negative and positive. I find it difficult to believe you could be speaking from God and not getting ANY positive reactions. There are always going to be people who will react positively and openly to God. Always.

Further, if it is from God, it will not be some nonsense you simply forget, nor will it be a purely physical reaction. It will MOVE you. It may make you ashamed, or it may lift you up, or both, but it will cause some deep stirring within you. Wait for that genuine stirring before you speak.

Further, have you considered it may be a demon prompting you to speak? When George Fox met a group of dream analysts, he asked them how they knew whether their dreams were coming from God, from their own harried minds, or from the Devil. They didn't know. So, how do you know which it is? Because you have an unusual physical response? There are lots of possible reasons for that.

Don't delude yourself, sister. There is a TRUE voice out there which demands your obedience. How do you know you have found it?

Hystery said...

Anonymous wrote a response that I have sat with for a long time holding it until I felt able to respond to it. Finally I decided that I would just comment to eliminate some lack of clarity in my original post which may have led to this anonymous response.

My posting may have sounded like I'm a regular speaker. It feels like a whole lot of speaking for me because it is such a very big deal to me whenever it happens! I do not, as s/he suggests, speak out week after week. I can count the times I have spoken in one year on one hand. S/he wrote:

"It sounds like you are uncomfortable with the silence, and that that is the reason you are speaking whatever comes into your head."

Indeed I was uncomfortable in the silence although thankfully that discomfort diminished as the weeks progressed. It was not the reason that I spoke, however, since I was very fearful of speaking into that silence and was certain that it was not my place. I told myself that I would not speak at all if not called to do so and it took a very great deal to convince me to speak.

In normal conversation, I am highly motivated to speak my views. During worship on the other hand, I very carefully refrain from doing so even when it seems apppropriate. Just 'cause I like the sound of something in my head is not a good enough reason to share it with others. Those thoughts I save for my blogs or for conversation.

Anonymous continues,"If it were actually coming from God, don't you think the reaction of the other Friends would be, not disapproval, but either abashedness or inspiration? When George Fox spoke he didn't "dribble" out words. He delivered tight messages with impact which shook the people present and elicited strong reactions, both negative and positive. I find it difficult to believe you could be speaking from God and not getting ANY positive reactions. There are always going to be people who will react positively and openly to God. Always."

Well, I cannot say that I feel qualified to say exactly how people react to messages. And I am certainly no George Fox! I did note that in my MM, very few people ever respond to anyone at all with obvious abashedness or inspiration (or maybe they do but do not tell me). They are just very quiet. During worship, other messages will follow my message in such a way that shows a building of a larger more corporate message and after meeting, I have had some comment (always positive).

I think that when I first began speaking, few knew me and since we usually left very shortly after, it may have been difficult to make those personal connections in which folks feel comfortable commenting and discussing at length. Or perhaps they did not feel the need since the sense of the group was consistent. It could also be a social class/ethnic/regional thing. I am frequently moved to tears in worship but I make a point of not allowing others to see that.

I also realize that I have may have done a disservice to my MM because I may have made it sound like that disapproved of my spoken messages. They have not done so. They "disapprove" of my use of the term "obedient" only. They said they wished I would use a different term that didn't seem so conservative.

Anonymous further comments: "Further, if it is from God, it will not be some nonsense you simply forget, nor will it be a purely physical reaction. It will MOVE you. It may make you ashamed, or it may lift you up, or both, but it will cause some deep stirring within you. Wait for that genuine stirring before you speak."

I am MOVED and I do not speak nonsense. As I try to convince myself NOT to speak, the words arrange themselves very carefully in my head so that by the time I finally open my mouth, I deliver a well-constructed statement. (It "feels" like a well and a stream of words that rush and rush repeating themselves.) In fact, one of the reasons I know it is a message is that the words continue to reassert themselves and arrange themselves in a very precise way as my physical symptoms increase. I don't just babble although it certainly feels like "dribbling" inasmuch as the words just are escaping me often without the same kind of conscious control that I am used to as an academic speaker. Perhaps I explain this badly... In fact, I know I explain this badly. Oh dear...

I do give messages that while moving to me in the moment are not of deep personal interest to me beyond the speaking. For instance, I once gave a message regarding alcoholism which fit nicely within the context of the greater group message we shared that week. I'm not personally interested in alcoholism but I believe that sometimes a soul is used as a mouthpiece.I would think that a message is far more about what others need to hear rather than what the speaker wants to say! Perhaps that day I was the right voice to speak the message for another's ears to hear. I just figure it isn't all about me.

As for attributing my message to demons or psychological aberrations, I cannot say. I do not personally believe in demons but I could be wrong. Certainly I cannot discount that I may be nuts. That is always possible although I don't think so. I know that since I began to speak in MM, my life has been transformed in ways that frankly, I could not have imagined.

I feel reconnected to the God of my childhood that I thought I'd lost. I used to be able to sit quietly in the dark and feel that I was cradled in a loving God's arms. After time, as I "matured" I lost that. My educated, rational brain told me what a silly anthropomorphic notion that was and I set it aside. But today when I reach out in the Silence, that Beloved Energy is there again.

Maybe I am crazy. Could be. Maybe we all are. Funny how that doesn't bother me anymore.

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