Sometimes it's not easy to be different in a group of like minded individuals. Most of you know that the Religious Society of Friends is my adopted faith and so I'm approaching it without a great deal of experience. Last Sunday, this quote appeared at the top of our bulletin:
"Fundamentally all social and political questions are economic. With equal wages, the male worker would no longer fear that his female colleague might put him out of a job, and men and women will unite to effect a complete transformation to the industrial environment… A woman needs economic independence to live as an equal with her husband. It is indeed deplorable that the work of the wife and mother is not rewarded. I hope that the time will come when it is illegal for this strenuous form of industry to be unremunerated."Charlotte French Despard, 1910
Okay, so to provide a little background, sometimes when we gather for worship, the topics arise from a combination of Scripture, faith and the practice of living out our faith in the real world. Quakers believe that religion is the whole of life, not contained in a single place. This might make some of you wonder why we even gather on Sundays to worship. The following will help to shed some light:
COMMUNION AFTER THE MANNER OF FRIENDSMeeting for worship is the gathering of the community for the purpose of being together in the Divine Presence. This can’t be done by ourselves. It requires the gathering of the community of Friends. It is dependent upon the interaction of other people in the context of worship. Of course, we may experience the Presence by ourselves as we gaze at beautiful mountains or lakes or sunsets, and these can be deeply moving experiences. But the corporate experience of meeting for worship is different. It is a reminder about that which resonates deep within us: the spirituality of life and our dependence upon others for this worship experience.
I have experienced something during meeting that is unmistakably the presence. It feels like an electric current that runs through my heart and is so powerful that it feels like I could explode on the inside. The only way to relieve the feeling is to stand up and speak aloud the message. In this moment one becomes the carrier of the message and everyone listens. I have carried a message on several occasions, and doing so makes a deep impact. On days when I've been "prompted" to carry a message, I go home and feel incredibly at peace, but also exhausted. Last Sunday, after hearing the quote from Despard, I was sitting between my two favorite guys in the whole world, and the current of electric presence arrived. Friends are also instructed to wait for a little while during this almost agonizing experience to be sure that the message is meant for the group. Sometimes it's message is just meant for the person who is experiencing the heart thumping "quaking."
People, I was raised in the Catholic church. And let me say that sometimes I miss the simple following along with a formulaic Mass!
While I could explain why I've adopted this faith, I'm going to save that story for another day.
In any case, while my heart was pounding furiously, Richard released my hand because he sensed that I was about to stand up. Thankfully another person stood up and the moment passed. The message was just for me.
But here's what I felt. I was going say that I can't imagine what my relationship to my mother and my father would have been like if I had known that they were paid to be my parents. I don't think I would look at my mom the same as I do today. And it made me think about all the struggling to not only be a good mom, but to be a financial helper.
I wouldn't want to be paid in a financial form for being a mom. Alas, I am not a socialist or a true feminist.
And I look at the men in my life who I love. My father, my brothers, my husband. I'm not jealous that they make lots more money than I do. I don't feel like I need to be "equal" in that way. Look at them! They are loving, giving, hard working people who have influenced me in life affirming ways!
And I think that they would choose to stay at home and be full time caregivers if they could. It's difficult to leave the comfort of your home and go out into the world and bring home the basic needs plus lots of extras.
When my Dad retired, he was sad and bereft not because he didn't go to work everyday and make lots more money, he was sad because after all that time he could finally stay home, but his children had grown up and moved away! He needed to be a caregiver again, and so he brought home a puppy with special needs.
The men in my family are real men, intelligent and kind and incredibly nurturing. They are strong and skilled, educated and generous.
I don't think it's unfair that parenting is not compensated in financial terms. We are a family and we love one another.
In fact I think it's harder to be the one who has to leave, the one who cannot have more adventures and visits with family because they have to be committed to their jobs.