Future generations will likely study the events of this year and scratch their heads. Just considering a global pandemic (and the failure of our leaders to address it) and racial injustice reaching a fever pitch, one can almost envision an entire college course examining the calamities of 2020.
The International Friends School (IFS) has a guiding spirit. This spirt teaches us, ultimately, that consistent renewals of joyfulness and love provide the sturdiest framework for everything we will experience in life. The smallest acts of love and joy – pulling beets, helping someone after a bike scrape, hanging towels to dry in the sun with a friend – are meaningful.
Eight years ago, I married Jill Shook, a housing justice advocate and Evangelical Christian who loves Jesus and justice. She also loves Quakers and attends Orange Grove Meeting (and the Methodist Church). The more I walk or drive around Pasadena with her, the more I see a side of this city that I never even imagined before.
When I first went to the Soviet Union in 1984, I expected to meet a hospitable people, if not outgoing. The first thing I learned was that Russians never smile. They look grim. They stare. The women especially would often stare at me and then turn away abruptly. In U.S. culture, this could be interpreted as distancing, judgmental, even hostile. It was definitely uncomfortable.
I’m getting very tired of this. Sometimes I am afraid of the person I am stuck with in this house during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.
I am afraid because he yells at me a lot. Sometimes I yell back, of course, but his yelling is louder than mine and more full of hostility. If he ever hit me, it would hurt.
Why do Quakers soft-pedal the importance of financial giving? It’s true, our unprogrammed meetings don’t need as much as conventional churches since they typically lack paid staff and large buildings. But beyond those differences, we seem to be quite uneasy in even bringing up the topic.