Our Collective Journal

April/May 2013

 

"I have often felt a motion of love to leave some hints

in writing of my experience of the goodness of God." 

--John Woolman  

Chapter 12

When has the Light come to you through the presence, wisdom, or generosity of others?

 

Artist Unknown 


 

The Quaker I Most Admire

Recently Mike asked committee clerks, and me, as treasurer, to submit profiles of ourselves for the West Hills Friends website because he wants the website to reflect the community’s shared leadership.

 

Mike also asked us to complete a survey, and one of the questions was, “Who is the Quaker you most admire?”  My first thought was Wendell Berry, only to discover that he’s not a Quaker!   I wanted to answer the question, so I researched a... [more]

 
 

A Warm Welcome

One of my best teachers is a girl with wheat-colored hair and green eyes that spark with delight.  She is a poet, world explorer, and horse enthusiast. Because of the West Hills Community, I know this little girl, her dear parents and her adorable little sister. I always look forward to time with my friend, her wisdom and whimsy—and how she runs up to hug me. We are an unlikely pair of friends, at least... [more]

 
 

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

My childhood religious experience was all about me and god and the relationship between myself and this mysterious all powerful, all loving being. "He" was all I had to cling to - my sense of love, acceptance, belonging, and hope. I was surrounded by believers - most more broken than I.  We masked our brokenness so others were oblivious to our hidden pain.

 

For 10 years after leaving that life, I worked endlessly to rewrite my... [more]

 
 

Light From a Stranger

When I was five, I composed a poem to God.  I remember thinking how amazing that was and how amazing I was.  I felt so capable and creative and smart and I sadly wondered why no one else had ever noticed those things about me.  Growing up, there was always the sense that no one really saw me, my value, or my experiences.  As a friend put it, “I wasn’t even a blip on my... [more]

 
 

Let Me Count the Ways

I am sorry to bring this up one more time to you all but the query for this Chapter overwhelms me with beautiful, grace-filled memories and endless gratitude.

 

When my husband was dying, we were sustained by community.  Early on, I learned to ask for angels and they came again and again. They came to walk with us literally in an enormous show of support at the ALS Walk. They walked with Fred for miles in... [more]

 
 

Beyond the Mind

After the birth of my first child in 2003, I experienced an extreme bout of postpartum mania, culminating in a psychotic break. Though I was surrounded by family and friends, no one recognized the signs of my increasingly manic behavior. At first, I felt extremely good, like I could do anything, but I wasn’t able to sleep.  After five days, my sanity disappeared in a flash, and I thought I had entered a new plane... [more]

 
 

Untitled Poem

You lift my heart and I praise You, Lord.

 

You lift my heart and I praise You; I praise You

in the jay in the bare branches of March 1st beside the house,

 

in the puddle in the pothole

reflecting the sky and the utility lines,

 

I praise you Lord in the neighbor’s flag,

in his ornamental plums, in his child’s training wheels,

 

I lift You

in my heart

and I praise you, Lord.

 

In my new, still-almost-white PSU hoodie, in my ripped jeans,

in my... [more]

 
 

West Hills Friends Loves You

 
 

Jury Duty

When I received a jury duty summons last November, my reaction was, “Oh, no, I just can’t put my life on hold during the holidays and change my busy schedule!” I read on and was relieved to find out that one reschedule was allowed. I breathed a sigh of relief and quickly filled out and mailed the postcard saying that I would be more available in February. I then promptly forgot about it.

 

Well, February arrived... [more]

 
 

The Angel Interpreter Friend

On a raw November afternoon in 2002, amid the throng of weary passengers disembarking from the plane, strode M., a seemingly confident and stunning 16-year-old Honduran girl who spoke no English.  Only a half-smile betrayed her apprehension with us, her circumstances, her life.  With welcoming hugs, we embraced our new foster daughter into our family.

 

The ensuing couple of weeks were filled with a busy agenda of doctor appointments, introductions, and learning exchanges.  My limited Spanish... [more]

 
 

Silent Retreat Gift

I am a member of University Friends Meeting in Seattle and an appreciative attender of West Hills Friends when I'm visiting my sister Peg.

 

The Northwest Quarterly Meeting sponsors a weekend Silent Retreat every winter in Gold Bar, Washington. I went for the first time twelve years ago after reading another attender’s description of it in my meeting newsletter. His enthusiasm was very down to earth. He talked about Peanuts characters seeing wondrous things in the... [more]

 
 

Claire's Dream

Claire’s Dream of Jesse, 10/06 — a dart to the heart of healing medicine that took me instantly from despair to joy. (Mixed media collage, by Sally Gillette)

 
 

Discovering a Caring Community

In 1993 the state of Washington passed a Health Services Act that implemented at the state level much of what the Clintons advocated for (unsuccessfully) at a national level.  The state issued requests for proposals for consulting firms to assist with implementing various provisions of the law, and I led my firm’s proposal related to one of its primary elements.  In January 1994, having been awarded the work, I found myself in front of panels... [more]

 
 

By Kindly Words

By Kindly Words

Even though I'm near a cacophonous corner on Hawthorne, I choose to sit at this cafe table because there's always something of interest here.  I mention this to the man at the neighboring table. His name is Joe, I find, and we are instantly serenaded by an older gentleman on the corner. (I've seen him here before. Even though his back was turned, he'd swiveled and given me a knowing nod before he... [more]

 
 

Jesse’s Stone

After her son, Jesse, died, my friend Sally faced some very hard times. Among much sadness was the significant reality that expenses of his long illness had left her with no financial reserves.  One of the important things that Sally had to defer was placing a marker on Jesse’s grave.

 

When a friend of Sally’s from West Hills learned that Jesse’s grave had no marker, she and other caring Friends secretly raised funds to buy one. ... [more]

 
 

(1) Claire's Dream, by Sally Gillette; (2) West Hills Friends Loves You, Name Withheld;

(3) Jesse's Stone, submitted by P.E.

 

Chapter 12 Stories 

 

The Quaker I Most Admire

 

A Warm Welcome

 

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

 

Light From a Stranger

 

Let Me Count the Ways

 

Beyond the Mind

 

Untitled Poem

 

West Hills Friends Loves You

 

Jury Duty

 

The Angel Interpreter Friend

 

Silent Retreat Gift

 

Claire's Dream

 

Discovering a Caring Community

 

By Kindly Words

 

Jesse’s Stone