Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer storm

A rather huge storm moved through here today. Jeremy sent me down the street to arrange the shade cloth for his mushrooms. He had heard some rumblings of thunder and wanted to make sure the shade cloth was up to allow more air movement. So I had to get over there before it started raining.

The sky had a very ominous look and there was a lot of rumbling up there. I passed by one neighbor's house and he said there was a front way up high, with winds at 60 knots or something, and they were expecting to it to come down on us pretty soon.

I got back home just as the rain was starting to sprinkle down and there was a crack of thunder. I ran inside to get the camera, hoping to get a good video of some thunder and lightning. What happened instead of lightning was a wall of water suddenly came down and then it got incredibly windy and blew all the rain right at me! I was drenched straight through in an instant and the poor camera got it too! It was incredibly windy and then the rain just started pouring down faster than anything I remember seeing.

I went out to check on the backyard and the entire rain garden was flooded and overflowing into the yard. The rain barrels were shooting water out their tops and water was pouring everywhere. I noticed that the strong wind had torn one of our bean trellises down.

After things calmed down I went outside to take a look - as did nearly everyone on the block! The intersection south of us was flooded and water was up over the wheels of cars. Kids were splashing, more like wading, through the street. Three houses up from us half a tree had come down across the street. I thought it lucky that there wasn't a car there - but it turns out there was a motorcycle there!

One of our neighbors came out with a little chainsaw and set to work cutting away the branches while other neighbors hauled them away, and the motorcycle owner kept an eye on her bike. It was the first time she'd ever parked it on the street! After a short while she was able to ride it out from under the branches and it had only sustained a bent handlebar.

Minutes later another deluge hit. I filmed the thunder and lightning this time, and luckily no wall of water came out to drench me! It's kind of a boring video I guess, mostly just continuous sheet lightning. But there is one bright flash at the end followed by some thunder (which of course set off someone's car alarm). More exciting to be in it I guess. =)

We only had a little bit of hail, though I hear there was hail 2-4 inches in diameter in other areas. And I heard of at least one tornado that touched down. Crazy midwest weather! =)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pacific Northwest Quaker Women's Theology Conference - Seabeck, Washington

Yes, that is a mouthful. The PNWQWTC has been around for a number of years and brings together Quaker women in the northwest United States and Canada for worship and conversations. I just attended this conference last week and had an amazing time. I was asked to be on the epistle committee, this time as the clerk. There were just three of us on the committee and we had much more time to work on the epistle. I really enjoyed working with Erin and Iris.

I guess I'm not comfortable sharing my own personal experiences of the conference in such a public space. If you're interested, drop me a line or ask me in person. The epistle does a pretty good job, as it should, so here it is:

To our Quaker family,

Surrounded by the waters and wildlife of Hood Canal and the snowy peaks of the Olympic Mountains, sixty women gathered in Seabeck, Washington from June 16-20, 2010 for the eighth Pacific Northwest Quaker Women’s Theology Conference. Begun fifteen years ago to promote dialogue and build relationships among different Quaker traditions, this conference continues to be deeply Spirit led and enriches the lives of women who attend.

Though we represent different backgrounds and branches of Quakerism, the lines between these seemed very thin and blurred. No one avoided talking about her home meeting or church, but our membership didn’t have as much weight as our personal experiences shared in love. Even as we attempted to be open and accepting, at times we misstepped and unintentionally hurt each other. Many of us felt broken open and left this conference changed.

Through reflection papers we wrote, plenary sessions, home groups and discussion, we each connected personally with the theme, “Walk With Me: Mentors, Elders, and Friends.” Each plenary brought us back again and again to the awareness of the need for support and mentorship in our lives. We identified places in which we are being accompanied and are accompanying others and places where we feel the absence of that loving presence. Many of us made commitments to seek those relationships in our meetings, churches and beyond.

Despite colds, more serious illnesses and concerns for the health of loved ones, we drew strength, support, and encouragement from one another. Many think of the Women’s Conference as a reunion and newcomers found they were welcomed into the family with open arms.

In keeping with the testimony of community, we opened ourselves to another group, Interplay, also staying at the conference center. We described the kind of work that we each came to do, invited them to join us in worship, and likewise were invited to experience their ministry and we shared grace together before meals.

We celebrated the gifts of many through plenaries, workshops, singing and readings by several published authors. During one plenary session, several young adults shared personal experiences of their ministries in relation to the theme of the conference. We were thrilled to hear stories of women being supported and held sacredly in their ministry. However, we were deeply saddened to learn that some are not empowered or recognized in their ministries. We were thus reminded of the reality of sexism in the Society of Friends. Encircling the young adult women, we joined together in heartfelt prayer and were moved by its healing and supportive power. This experience deepened our worship and fellowship together. We challenged ourselves to be aware of internalized sexism, as well as the sexism in our churches and meetings, and to work toward true equality.

During business meeting on Saturday, we reaffirmed the work of this body of women and our leading to continue meeting together as an intra-faith group. We look forward to the next opportunity to join in fellowship.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Young Adult Friends Conference - Wichita, Kansas

I'm not back to Minneapolis yet, but I've got some free time at the end of my visit here in the Northwest and figure I'd better get started posting so I don't feel as far behind when I get home. Thus follows a couple posts that are not about urban homesteading!

I attended a conference over Memorial Day weekend for young adult Quakers, or Friends. YAFs, as we're called, are generally defined as 18-35. The range varies, and obviously there is a huge range of experience there!

For those not in the know, Quakers ARE still around (we're not extinct and we're not Amish or anything like that - and we don't own the oatmeal company either). There are several different branches of Quakers, some more Christ-centered and some less. It's all very complicated and you can read about it elsewhere. The point is that there are differences amongst us and that makes some different kinds of Quakers very uncomfortable with each other. There are efforts, like this YAF conference, to get Quakers of various backgrounds together to talk and build relationships.

I kind of wanted to go to this conference but didn't think it would be possible. At practically the last minute I was asked by Friends Journal to attend (they made it financially possible for me!) and write an article about the conference. I was very happy to oblige! (I'll post a link to that when it's published online.)

It was an interesting experience. I missed the whole first evening because I got stuck in a layover at the airport. I missed one worship time while I helped wash dishes in the kitchen. And it felt like I was "missing it" during the worship I did make it to. Several people talked about the Spirit moving and it being a great experience, but I wasn't getting it. I guess that happens to everyone now and again.

I decided to join the epistle committee, partly to get a better idea of what was going on for everyone. Quakers have a practice of writing a letter during each event which sums up the spirit of what happened, the activities, the decisions, etc. The letter is generally written by a committee, approved by the whole body, and then sent out to the wider Quaker world.

I like the idea of epistles and this was the first time I'd volunteered to be on the committee. Ours was perhaps unusual in that it was so large. I think there were 7 or 8 of us! I really enjoyed the process we went through, how respectful and worshipful it was, and in the end I really liked our epistle.

For your reading pleasure, here is the epistle from the conference:

Dear Friends everywhere:

We send greetings from the Young Adult Gathering held at University Friends Meeting and Church in Wichita, Kansas, Fifth Month, 2010. Present were roughly 73 young adults from all branches of Quakerism, and 23 yearly meetings.

One of the great elements of this gathering was serving one another in hospitality, as we prepared our own meals and cleaned up the kitchen. We labored together outwardly and inwardly, seeking our common experience of God and Love.

We came to a place that was difficult to reach. We came to the center of this country, hoping to be brought to our Center as a faith community. It is an ongoing challenge to unite as a corporate body, and we grieve that not all felt able to participate. We struggled to hear one another and to understand one another. We struggled to speak our truths and to understand each other’s truths. We encountered differences between the branches of Friends, and within our own yearly meetings. But we came forward into worship willingly, vulnerably, and trusting in God to lead us. Despite and through these hardships, we were carried into an ongoing relationship with Love.

In our time together, God met with us, just as we asked. In our struggles and our joys, God was there, loving us. In studying Scripture together, we learned from Jesus’ example that Love requires crossing borders, going to places that are strange, foreign, and that seem dangerous. Now, like our Friend, we too are crossing borders. Jesus took risks, and now we are taking risks. But those risks are worth it because we are seeking Truth in Love, and when we find Love we are going to find God because God is Love, and that Love waits to be awakened in all of us.

The seeds that were planted this weekend must be tended and nurtured, or they will not grow. We look forward to the joy of continued labor, and to the fruit that our branches will bear. Before these seeds could be planted, we had to be plowed up through striving and struggle. We had to be broken and made tender. We were. We ask God to continue to break our hearts from all that breaks His heart, to continue to open our eyes. We have begun.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Hello dear blog friends,

It's been a little silent around here, but not for lack of activity! Progress is being made upstairs, the garden is growing, the mushrooms are growing, and the girls are laying lots of eggs.
I got a job (yay!) and I attended a great conference Memorial Day weekend which I hope to post something about eventually. Now I'm headed off to the Northwest to visit friends and family, see my brother graduate from college, and attend the Pacific Northwest Quaker Women's Theology Conference. I'll be back home in two weeks, and I'm sure there will be many updates forthcoming. So have patience and I'll be back soon!