Beginner's Heart

Recently I mentioned in a Facebook thread that I was interested in the Quaker meeting in my hometown. I’ve always been drawn to Quaker beliefs, ever since I read about Benjamin Franklin. Later, it was attending meetings with my sister-in-law. Still later (& more recently), I did scholarly research on a couple of prominent historical Quaker leaders. And do NOT forget the wonderful What does George Fox say? YouTube detailing the Quaker founding father’s beliefs.

The combination of a deep historical commitment to both peace and social justice — reified early in their meetings by having women as well as men lead — appeals to me. Many Quaker beliefs, as far as I can tell from my readings, are at least contiguous with Buddhism, and often the two wisdom traditions overlap deeply.

via flickr

via flickr

I’ve been reading Friends Journal for years now, as I didn’t know where to go in my hometown to a meeting. The back of the Journal lists meetings in various cities and areas. But in my town, it said simply ‘Call for details.’ I’m uncomfortable calling strangers for spiritual guidance, it appears. 😉

So when I found out a girlfriend attends meetings w/ her daughter, I asked about going with her. Within minutes (I am NOT exaggerating) I was connected via FaceBook, and asked to introduce myself.

And here’s today’s thought: how do you introduce yourself to a new spiritual community?? Where’s the etiquette for THAT, huh? Do you say…Hi! I’m moving, but in the meantime, could I come visit? I’ve always wanted to. That seems a bit…callow. But then, Hi! I did scholarly research on two of your historical leaders, and they’re super cool! sounds pretty shallow.

I asked the girlfriend I wanted to join in meeting. She’s one of the least ‘affected’ folks I know, and (of course!) said — Whatever, Britt. Well, remember me? The person who dropped out of creative writing THREE TIMES before I could bear to ‘introduce myself through my writing’…?? (True story, that.)

How do you — you, personally — describe your spiritual journey-quest to strangers? Because chances are, I know NONE of these folks. And yes, they’re probably all super nice, or my friend wouldn’t go. But I don’t know them. And frankly? I’d rather discuss the deconstruction of sea slugs before sharing my (almost always maligned) spiritual beliefs. True, that.

via flickr

via flickr

Beginnings are, as a famous sci-fi writer once said, such tenuous things. An introduction is just that: your first glimpse of who I am. I have no clue who you are, or which of the many hats I toss into the air at a moment’s notice to exchange for another I should ‘wear’ for you. And for sure you don’t want ALL my hats at once. So I struggle with what to highlight, what to elide. There seems far more ‘strategy’ about introductions than simply Hi. Here I am.

Here’s a question: introduce yourself to each other? To me? Or at least — tell me how you do it. I finally wrote some inane pat response ~ Thank you for the welcome! ~and let it go. Either they’ll get to know me personally or not. The end. But you? You guys I’ve been talking to for years, some of you. I’d love to know more about you.

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