"I wish you made sense to me"

In response to my last post, my friend Nils wrote:

“Dear Richard,
I value your friendship and love
and only wish you made sense to me. …”

I was thrilled. I wrote him back:

What a wonderful response!
I would like permission to quote you.
Either with your name attached or anonymously.
It has taken me so long to really start doing this Gaia Troubadour work because it hasn’t made sense to me either:
“Us, inside a living organism! Like e coli in someone’s intestine? You gotta be kidding!”

And I know it doesn’t make sense to lots of people.
Part of what I have been doing for these last decades is refining a personality and a place in my community that allows me to say things that people don’t feel they have to take seriously or “believe,” but they are still willing to hear from me —to entertain my thinking at some non-threatening level.
Your wonderful statement is a model of the relationship I want people to feel they can have with me. One where they find me to be a valuable friend, and we can speak frankly together about how this Gaia Troubadour stuff doesn’t make any sense to them.

Writing this to you allows me to realize that part of what the website is about is just getting the ideas out where people can see them, giving these weird ideas some months and years in the light of day, to discover that nothing terrible happens.
You, and many of my other friends, don’t even have to read them for this “light of day” time to be valuable. A few of the ideas will connect with a few members of our shared community; word will get around that while I may be odd I am not out of control, and that in fact the Gaia Troubadour can be entertaining. As a community (I hope) we will discover settings where I can speak my heart and people don’t need to feel threatened or challenged. (This is already true in meeting for worship.)
And then, when we (and especially I) have had time to be reassured that it is not actively dangerous just to say such outlandish things where everybody can see them, then in face-to-face conversations I can begin to make connections between what I have been saying and the inner realities I know people carry. Like “prayer.” That’s a nice example of something some people “believe in” and other people don’t, and that feels tricky to talk about.

And in the meantime your wonderful statement,
“I value your friendship and love and only wish you made sense to me”
is the perfect thing for my friends to be saying to me.

Nils responded:

Of course, quote me and use my name or not as you wish. I do understand your concept of us all being connected and as such part of something larger that our individual selves and e coli in an intestine is not a bad analogy. … In our meeting house in Pennsylvania there are many majestic trees that were fertilized by the horses of early Quakers, and the trees also used the carbon dioxide that those horses and Friends may have exhausted and so the trees are in part made up of “waste” products. …
Well, dear friend, we raised a chuckle from Peg in reading our mail, so our day has been a success.

About Richard O Fuller

Quaker, living in the Twin Cities, Minnesota.
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2 Responses to "I wish you made sense to me"

  1. Dear Richard,

    I do sometimes find myself confused by your descriptions. In fact I often find that your language works over something I thought I understood, until I no longer understand it. Your descriptions of Gaia sometimes work that way.

    Sometimes the upshot is, as Nils puts it, you simply don’t make sense to me.

    But other times, I find that you tilt my head in such an unusual way, that I see something I never would have seen traveling along the more direct pathways of thought. I think of your characterization of our business meeting around issues of paid staff as an amoeba putting out its pseudopods–false feet–to see if there is anything for us in this or that direction. Such a strange way of looking at the subject, but I’m not sure anything more conventional would have really spoken to us and allowed us to understand so well what we were doing.

    You are an odd, almost obstinately indirect communicator. Yet I can think of few people as likely to completely crack open a conversation for us to see what lies on the inside.

    Keep stumbling. We need you.

  2. Howard Vogel says:

    Dear Richard — I’ve finally come to the surface of the lake I have been subnerged in for the last few months and taken a breath of fresh air at the Gaia Voices website. I’ve just barely sampled the feast that greeted me there. My initial reaction is that the vision that draws you to express what you are expressing makes a good deal of sense to me. If one embraces a view of reality as composed of events, droplets of experience, rather than essences, then reality is deeply relational — just as my hand is my foot, and the north pole is the south pole, so too do we belong to one another more than we are isolated separated beings. This is not to deny or disparage individuality — but to put it in its proper place bound up in the vast relatedness of the cosmos.

    I would dearly love to be able to attend FGC and hear you . . . and Marcus Borg, who I have followed for years . . . but circumstances do not permit this to happen. I wish you well and look forward to sharing a bit of time soon.


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