Over the past few weeks, away from our students and program, the school where I work has been obsessed with the annual Secret Freak phenomenon. Its like Secret Santa where we drew names and each person has one other person on staff to gift with little presents throughout the week. Only, instead of innocent little presents appearing here and there, Secret Freak includes complicated alliances, epic missions, and elaborate schemes. The person on staff who had my name this year led me on a journey where I, the Bandita, received a mask and toy guns and had to follow a set of clues to the treasure. Most of the staff was in on the plot which at times included following plastic toy men through the forest, accosting professor Lemon puff, navigating through a western Saloon and riding my hobby horse steed throughout the school campus.
I had a lot of fun. At times I was incredibly stressed- wondering when the next clue would arrive. Every sound in my house made me jump. I laughed so much at the creativity of the journey.
Anyways, the fall term ended and Friday night we all sat around and told our stories of Secret Freak. After each story, we got to guess who had our name. By the time my turn came around, all the people I had suspected throughout the week had been claimed. The one person I was sure wasn’t my Secret Freak, turned out to be exactly that! Laughter abound.
Less than 24 hours later, I’m on my way to Nicaragua to study Spanish for a few weeks, and I find myself reflecting on the Secret Freak fiasco. I wore toy plastic guns for most of the week, lied to people to throw them off track of my own Secret Freakiness. I conspired with others to throw off the scent. Mistrusted some; trusted lies…
So as I’m thinking about being an U.S. citizen in another country; as I’m thinking about being a Quaker out in the world; as I’m thinking about travel and writing- my mind wanders to a part of my journal where I have Baltimore Yearly Meeting’s SPICES (Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, Stewardship) queries. Often when I travel I use these queries to help me transition my mind to a place of reflection and awareness. So, I opened my journal to find the queries about integrity:
- How do we seek truth by which to live? How do we recognize it?
- In what ways does my life speak of my beliefs and values?
- In what ways is my life out of harmony with the truth as I know it?
Holding experiences of traveling among people who are no longer living due to the immanent violence of the world, I feel like I should be more bothered by the Secret Freak experience. So of the responses to my last blog entries (responses on Facebook) have shared experiences of people frustrated at the lack of consistence in faith experience. One person wrote that since he could not see that of God in a particular person, he must not be a Quaker. When I read that, I confess, I laughed. I was holding one of the plastic guns plotting against someone on staff and reading about someone who couldn’t be Quaker because they didn’t feel like they embodied Quaker beliefs 100% of the time.
One thing I love of my community- Quaker and not- is that I feel encouraged to wrestle with my beliefs; I feel encouraged to be imperfect and learn from the questions that imperfection kicks up. So when the moments arise when I’m given plastic toy guns and I remember that my parents never allowed me to have toys like these because they weren’t Quaker. I can laugh and not beat myself up about thinking, “Damn, these are cool!”