Yesterday I had my official I’ve Finished Two Marathons in Six Days letdown.
It hit me at our home YMCA. Just like going to church or temple on Sundays is a given for many families, including ours, Saturday visits to the Y are the norm for us. Our daughter is a member of an amazing hālau hula or school where hula is taught. We had been on a waiting list for nearly two years.
Coming to an island with groups of people who have known each other for years and often even have grown up with each other, we — two middle-aged guys from the Mainland raising a young daughter born with an extra chromosome — have needed to be patient.
Moving to Hawaii cold as we did has had its challenges. The cost of living is really high. The rich, cultural diversity — which has always appealed to my husband and me — can be a culture shock for some new residents straight from homogeneous communities on the Mainland. And, let’s face it, we are living on relatively small islands in the middle of a vast ocean!
Personally, except for my Quaker community in Iowa, I have not missed the Mainland.
I’m terrified of flying. I love multiculturalism. I definitely believe No Man is an Island, but I sure love living on one. My husband and daughter are Buddhists. Our family has been welcomed by the Shin Buddhist community on Oahu as if we had always belonged. We love Girl Scouts, our daughter’s elementary school, the Fulbright Association in Hawaii. We’ve volunteered for candidates for elected office. My work in philanthropy as an advancement or development professional has brought me to people who have become lifelong friends. I’ve run 9 marathons in Hawaii and have become a better athlete in a way I never expected.
Have I left out Quakers in Hawaii? Did I leave the part about the marathon letdown hanging in this post?
Well, yes. I believe it’s pretty natural after reaching any “weighty” goal, like finishing two marathons, or 52.4 miles to be exact, in six days, or a peak season in fundraising (which is still not over), or holding your breath as you find a way through challenges in raising a child or your marriage, to stumble around a bit, to feel like maybe you ought to run another marathon as a way to postpone other parts of your life that have been neglected.
Like my faith life.
As I wrote a few paragraphs earlier, the one part of the Mainland I get nostalgic about is my Quaker community from Iowa, formally known as the Iowa Yearly Meeting Conservative who despite the formal designation are for the most part extremely liberal, sometimes Plain Quakers (think Amish) who worship in silence and harmony.
No community is perfect, but if there is a member of IYMC who consistently disrupts the peace and unity of the Meeting which can affect the good works, including activism related to social issues Quakers are known for, that person would be “eldered,” or strongly counseled to adjust his or her ways, especially if his or her actions resulted in Quakers leaving Meeting because the strain of patience for this person is too great.
The community of Quakers I have found in Hawaii is one I want to embrace, a group of people who help me live my faith and find ways to explore its deeper layers, who give me the great gift of letting go of chasing after immediate rewards, like finishing another marathon, and striving for more “weighty” goals of what we call discerning the Light.
Unfortunately, a member of the Hawaii Meeting is a lot for me to bear. Her actions drove my husband away from Meeting, and led me to take a two-year break from worshiping with other Quakers. I attempted to return yesterday, with my family, and nothing has changed. The member provoked through her words and gestures to me — at a Christmas gathering! — questions I wish I didn’t have to try to answer.
What do I do, dear Readers? Leave for another two years? Forego this part of my life because no matter how much patience I and others have invested, nothing seems to change?
By speaking to Meeting elders and writing this post, I’ve done all I can do for the time being. I do not have time for nor want drama for my family, me, nor other Quakers. If my being present brings out a side of this person that presents challenges for me and others, I would rather stay away. But isn’t that giving in? And missing out? And not helping this person change and my discerning parts of me that can change?
And I bet most readers of this blog thought Quakers lived in perfect peace all the time!