Friday, July 03, 2009

Bonnie Tinker's Lessons

I didn't used to like the phrase "hold in the Light."

I used to think it was a cop-out, a politically correct way to say "pray for" without upsetting Friends who were resistant to the "Christ Talk" used by some (of us) other Friends.

When someone said "Is there anyone to be held in the Light?" I would say, when I thought there was, that I would like Friends to pray for so-and-so, or for me.

But you learn, you grow.

I came to think of holding someone in the Light as a comforting thing. Quaker theology holds, at least traditional Quaker theology holds, that it is encounters with the Light--Christ--that transform us, that conform us to the image of Christ. This is a scary process, at times, as the Light confronts us with those things about our lives that have to change and also gives us the wherewithal to make those changes. This is where the quaking came in, along with the tears and the moaning. It was as though, it was written by some, that which is described in the book of Revelation was happening in the hearts of Friends.

So, holding in the Light seemed to me like holding on to my dog in the bath, or my daughter's hand as she got a shot or her ears pierced. It was a warm, comforting thing done for the benefit of someone going through some thing difficult.

But Bonnie Tinker taught me a different take on "holding in the Light." Rather than comforting arms it was like "Get your butt into that Light. You and I both know you need to be changed in this regard and I'm going to stand here and make sure you stay there until the dross is burned off."

She was like the sheep dog, in way, getting me into the pen where I needed to be.

"Feed my sheep," indeed.

She never said it quite so bluntly (at least not to me) but when she was on the phone, as I wrote in my other blog, today, it made me apprehensive because I knew she was going to ask for time or money that I did not think that we had, for something I knew that we should support.

It was not a guilt trip she was laying on me. It was holding out a truth I knew and insisting that I look at it and, with integrity, act on it.

"...holds a fistful of rain tempting you to deny it."

I'm thinking that the difference between holding my daughter's hand when she wants to flee the doctor's office and having my heels nipped (in a loving way) to keep me going in the direction she and I both agreed I needed to go, were not so different.

Transformation is scary, it pulls me out of who I am, it calls upon me to lay down comfort and convenience and privilege--to pick up the cross, even the cross that, upon first blush, doesn't seem like it's really mine.

Community, of course, depends on strengthening the relationships with those upon whom my well being relies, whose well being depends on their relationship with me.

Bonnie alienated a lot of true-believing activists who took themselves as being of "like mind" to her because she wasn't about, and she implored against, shouting and politically overpowering those who were persecuting them. She understood that our enemies were not those shouting and spitting in our faces. Those people are captive of the powers--and it is the powers, especially the powers of retributive violence--that need to be overcome.

The only way we can set ourselves free from persecution is to set free those persecuting us. And the way to do that is to get into a place--we need to be transformed to the place--where we cannot do harm others and, no matter what they do to us, they cannot really harm us, either.

(Click on the "one quaker's take" link to read my other blog post about Bonnie, today).

1 comment:

Babette said...

I lift you up in your loss and thank you for sharing your picture of this evidently mighty weighty Friend. I wondered who she might be after reading of her passing on Cat Chapin's blog. There were posts of the sadness of it all. But all I could thing of, being the same age myself, was WHAT A WAY to go out! Like that, in a twinkling, in the peak of it all, in the center of the Center, CENTERED. May She BE BLESSED. And THEE

Elizabeth Roebling
Asheville Friends
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic