"Calming the Agitations"
Ambrose came home exhausted,
barely able to drag his feet up
the short steps to the porch.
Garry met him at the door and
helped him out of his boots, then
enveloped him in a soft, warm hug.
Ambrose felt grateful all over again
to have such a good roommate;
Garry was quiet and comfortable,
and they fit together without
the drama of romance.
"Rough day at work?"
Garry asked gently.
"One of my clients is difficult,"
Ambrose admitted with a sigh.
Shiv had gotten under his skin
again with his bratty behavior.
"All of your clients are difficult,"
Garry said. "That's why they
need your help so much."
Ambrose thought about some
of the things he'd been dragging
Shiv through. "I know," he said.
"It's just that I'm conflicted about
what I'm doing, and wondering
if it's doing any good at all, or
just making matters worse."
"Then think about what you
are called to do," Garry said.
"If it requires evil of you, then
it is not good. What is truly good
does not ask you to do evil, but
to do good, which is harder."
"You have a point," Ambrose said.
It was certainly hard to find a balance
between encouraging Shiv to grow
and giving him space, coaxing him
to behave better without violating
his boundaries along the way.
This was complicated by the fact
that Shiv was neither comfortable
talking about his feelings nor
simply sitting in silence.
"Shall we sit for a while?" Garry invited.
Ambrose nodded, relieved
that Garry at least was completely
comfortable with this part of their lives.
They sat down together on
the antique Quaker meeting bench
that stood just inside the door, where
they could deal with their worries without
dragging the day's challenges through
the whole house like tracking mud
all over the nice hardwood floors.
Ambrose could feel the firm oak
supporting him, hear the creak of it
under their weight and the soft sound
of Garry's breathing. The scent
of lemon polish rose up from
the wood as it warmed.
He thought about Shiv,
the boy's wild spirit and
restless manner, but most
of all about his odd superpower,
so perilous and yet so full of potential.
Ambrose turned his awareness inward,
seeking the silence and the light that lay
beyond it, never more than a breath away.
It was like dying, as if he could slip off
the cloak of flesh that enclosed him and
stand, naked and vulnerable, before God.
In time, he felt the presence of Spirit
descending to cover him with grace
and calming the agitations that
plagued his heart and mind.
Then into the well of silence that was
his soul, there dropped a single concept.
Ask him what it's for.
Ambrose received it and gave thanks,
letting it sink into himself so that
he would know when to use it.
Eventually the silence wound itself
to an end, releasing them to attend
to the matters of flesh again.
"You seem more settled now,"
Garry said with a smile.
"Did you get an answer?"
"No," said Ambrose.
"I got a question."
"Those can be far more use
than answers," Garry said.
They went inside to the kitchen,
where a batch of turkey white bean chili
simmered gently in the crockpot.
Garry started filling a bowl with
topping for ginger pear crisp, while
Ambrose cleaned the parsnips
that would go into the side dish.
As they worked, Ambrose
mulled over the question that
he had received.
What was Shiv's gift for?
What was any superpower for?
It gave Ambrose plenty of food for thought.
* * *
Garry Albright -- He has fair skin, hazel eyes, and light brown hair with golden highlights. He is slender and graceful. Garry lives with his roommate, Ambrose Farrington. They are queerplatonic partners but don't make a big deal out of it. They came together because it is comfortable, affectionate, and not fraught with distracting passions. The two of them share a small house in the suburbs.
Garry works for the Quaker Voluntary Service in Lincoln, Nebraska. He organizes volunteers in the office and also does volunteer work himself. He is adept at a variety of arts and crafts, from painting murals to restoring furniture. Other times he serves at the Friendly Plate soup kitchen, which also teaches gardening, cooking, and nutrition. Instead of a sermon, they keep Silence during meals -- an extremely popular refuge from the noisy streets. Garry excels at taking care of other people, but falls short on himself.
Qualities: Master (+6) Emotional Intelligence, Master (+6) Quaker Voluntary Service, Expert (+4) Arts and Crafts, Expert (+4) Nonanxious Presence, Good (+2) Cooking for the Masses, Good (+2) Graceful, Good (+2) Nature Gazing, Good (+2) Simplicity
Poor (-2) Taking Care of Himself
See the exterior, serving window, and dining room of the Friendly Plate. This is a floor plan of the whole human support center.
* * *
Inner silence, calming the agitations of our hearts and minds, letting go of all that is stubborn and grasping, is essentially an expression of the love of truth. To be dispassionate, not to let one’s own needs or prejudices or emotions color one’s actions, is essentially to put truth before everything else. To love truth in this way is to love God, who is Truth. Thus the practice of inner silence is the same as the love of God.
~ Dan Seeger, 1934- (quote) (longer context)
Ambrose and Garry share a small house. See the exterior and floor plan. This is the bench in the entry and the bathroom. Here is the great room, the bedroom, and the study.
Silence is a fundamental part of Quaker worship. It's also a near-universal response to stress for Quakers. If something bothers them, they'll sit in Silence with it; if they see a friend troubled, they'll offer to share Silence, and in a Quaker-friendly locale they will stop off one edge of a sidewalk for it, right where they are. Learn how to do it.
Messages in meetings come from what Quakers call "the still small voice." Here are some thoughts on how meetings and prayers work. The same concepts apply to solitary or small-group situations. Quakers first pray to God, and then listen for an answer.
"Now thou must die in the silence, to the fleshly wisdom, knowledge, reason, and understanding; so thou comest to feel that which brings thee to wait upon God; (thou must die from the other,) that brings thee to feel the power of an endless life, and come to possess it."
~ George Fox, 1624-1691 (quote) (longer context)
Enjoy some Turkey White Bean Chili, Roasted Rosemary Parsnips, and Ginger Pear Crisp. I found all of those from Quaker sources.