A New Year Begins


It still seems strange that tomorrow we will have transitioned to a new year. As a scientist I understand measuring and classifying things like time. One of the few times my godson got really upset was when he learned about losing an hour of his life with the switch to daylight savings time. I could understand and somewhat share his outrage.


You probably aren’t surprised that the sunrise captured my attention before I could begin writing this morning. Perhaps a good omen for the new year.

One thing I did last year was to write about my foundational stories. https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/foundational-stories/
Which turned out to be a bigger project than anticipated. One thing I hoped that would answer was whether I should stop writing and just share photos. I know I write a lot and repeat things as I examine what goes on in this world, and in my spiritual life. I’m still wondering.

We all experienced a lot last year. Pandemics, multiple environmental catastrophes, out of control drug addiction and death, gun violence, police killings, antisemitism, government control of women’s bodies, attacks related to sexual orientation and identity, worsening economic situations for most of us, millions of children going hungry, ridiculous politics and yet another war.

I am no longer, after nine years, clerk of the Peace and Social Concerns Committee of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative). I was led to become clerk of Bear Creek Friends meeting. Both of those things had/have consequences related to my faith and how I practice it.

A number of things have challenged me regarding faith. I am blessed to have deepened my friendships with many Black, Indigenous, and other people of color. It is hard to see the devastating effects the Indian boarding schools have on the generations of the families of all of my Indigenous friends. To learn even more about the Quaker involvement with forced assimilation. When I see family photos from the 1900s, I realize my ancestors were settler colonists. And that I am, too.

I am very blessed to have been invited to join the Buffalo Rebellion, a coalition of justice organizations in Iowa.

And the most intense experiences continue to be related to being part of Des Moines Mutual Aid. It has taken a long time to understand the depth of what I’ve been learning there. From the beginning I could tell this was a special place. A lot of this was the great diversity of this community. And learning of the depth of the commitment of my friends for justice. Of their tireless work in the community and on the streets.

And recently, and hardest to accept, has been to learn that I have experienced a lot of trauma as I’ve tried to work for justice, to follow my faith. I had always convinced myself that I was strong and self-sufficient, ignoring signs that said otherwise. I began to realize this as I saw how my Mutual Aid friends cared for each other in genuine ways during our weekly food giveway project. How kind they/we are to those coming for food. How they understand things I’d been going through and have cared for me.

For the new year, I’m led to continue to work with Mutual Aid and the Buffalo Rebellion. To find more ways to bring my faith into these spaces. How to do so has been puzzling. There is the history of White Quakers’ involvement in the Indian boarding schools, and continued settler colonization. The history of White Quakers’ involvement in the institution of slavery, and continued participation in systems of White dominance.

We say our lives should be expressions of our faith. While I haven’t heard discussions about faith, I know my Mutual Aid and Buffalo Rebellion friends are deeply spiritual. And recently I have been honored that Indigenous friends have read, and suggested others read some of my blog posts. This is likely the way I was looking for to share my faith with them.

And to continue to bring the concepts of mutual aid to my Quaker communities. I plan to speak more plainly about the evils of capitalism. When future generations look back at this time, they will not understand how we participated in capitalism, a system of economic slavery. In the same way we look back on the institution of slavery, and the land theft and genocide of Indigenous peoples. Will not understand our complicity in a dominate system of White superiority and racism.

A friend just now shared the following that more eloquently expresses what I’ve been trying to say above. This describes my Mutual Aid and Buffalo Rebellion friends perfectly.

2 thoughts on “A New Year Begins

  1. Just letting you know I read this and am happy for your involvement with people who have not been favored in our economic system. Your efforts In Mutual Aid and elsewhere are inspiring.


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