Last night at our daughter’s Open House, I tried to listen intently in a crowded and warm cafeteria to news about parking at drop off, what drives achievements in learning, and Ellen’s entreaties to move to the playground where she could jump off all kinds of things and give me more gray hair.
One highlight came toward the end of the event with the introduction of the first-grade team who call themselves the Fabulous 5. Believe me, they are. I had to fight back tears when I said to Ellen’s teacher that I was beyond thrilled that my daughter was in her class. When she told me she felt like it was meant to be, I was certain I was going to lose it. For any parent out there, knowing your young child has a great teacher makes most things in life pretty reasonable.
Before that conversation, though, and after Ellen’s Olympic jumps on the playground, I recovered by sitting next to another father back in the cafeteria. He and I talked about where we worked, he in a public middle school, me in a Buddhist high school. When I mention my job, I’m usually asked what it’s like to be a Buddhist.
I’ll be figuring that out for a while. I started off as a Roman Catholic and even lived in a monastery in Europe for a while. I struggled staying with that faith tradition when I wanted to marry my husband and raise our child together as a legal, loving couple. So I tried Old Catholicism which allows for same-sex marriage and ordination of women as priests. The only hitch is that Old Catholic communities in the world are few and far between. So in retrospect, becoming a convinced Quaker was a path I had meant to be on for a long time. Working in a school that is Buddhist-based but accepts families of all faiths also seems like it was meant to be.
In our five-minute conversation, my new friend from last night asked, “Aren’t there several ways different faiths intersect? Aren’t we all in this together?”
I couldn’t agree more. I’m wondering how my belief in angels and my yearning for Plain Quakerism in my private life tie into everything, but that will take patience and some humor … and the best husband and daughter imaginable who endure my odyssey.