Friends World Committee for Consultation
Section of the Americas
19 - 22 March 2009
Canby Oregon 97013
Two Friends from Africa, one from India and one from Australia were hosted at 2 potlucks by Multnomah Monthly Meeting in Portland, Oregon. One on the evening of 17 Mar 2009 for the meeting as a whole, and one at noon 18 Mar 2009 for the monthly seniors' potluck. At the evening session the Friends from Africa spoke of the connections that FWCC had with the African Yearly Meetings and the responses of Quakers to the fighting that broke out last year in Kenya. A question and answer period followed the potluck. These Friends had travelled many miles through many time zones and were visibly exhausted. I feel that hospitality requires that travelling Friends' physical needs should come before the requests of hosting Friends to endlessly require answers to questions that could be addressed after Friends have rested.
One audience member in particular ( I had never seen this person before and don't know how familiar she is with Friends) kept asking one of the African Friends what her mission here was and what she was doing for world peace.
I felt like standing up and helping the Friend from Africa out, as she seemed to struggle for an answer. I am not good at Quakerly responses so said nothing. On the way home I railed that it is too bad that someone didn't ask her what she was doing for world peace and that it was not all up to the woman that she had put on the spot. See what I mean by not being very Quakerly.
Today it came to me that perhaps I could have explained simply that Friends from various parts of the world were coming together for a conference this weekend. Maybe she really did not know this.
At the noon session I sat beside the Friend from India and we struck up a general conversation about family. He asked if I lived alone and I told him that I lived with my partner. He did not ask and I did not explain further. I wanted to ask if he knew of any GLBTQ Friends in India, but was afraid of the possible response. I wonder if I will ever find my voice. Sometimes I feel like Gigot in the film of that name. He was mute and upon seeing a child in the river and being unable to speak to summon help, the child drowned. Gigot runs into the church, looks up at the cross and pounds his chest in a silent but profound questioning of God for his absence of the ability to speak. This was one of Jackie Gleason's greatest performances and has stayed with me for decades as it is so meaningful to me. I am so envious of people who are articulate and quick with their responses.