Sunday, June 29, 2008

Moved & Stirred at FGC

Here at the annual gathering of the Friends General Conference of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), I have been moved in a way that has rarely happened to me among Quakers.

After lunch we gathered for worship to listen to a recording of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he addressed the same gathering in 1958. I expected to find it interesting from a historical perspective and even timely, but I had no idea that it would speak so directly to me and my current spiritual condition.

After a year of absorbing horror stories about ex-gay survivors and hearing cruel, inaccuate, twisted words from fellow Christians and even verbal bashing from people who say all manner of evil against my transgender, lesbian, bisexual, genderqueer and gay friends, I have felt angry and bruised and hateful.

My heart has begun to feel like a sour, half-rotten plum with a jagged stone inside it tearing up the flesh. The cumulative effect of so much spiritual and human violence and dishonesty has left me more battered than I had suspected.

Right now I find it a challenge to love my friends let alone my enemies. I have grown suspicious and judgemental in my heart and mind and taken the defensive position of a wounded bear.

Later in the day as I sat in Meeting for Worship sponsored by the Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns, I reflected on that hard saying of Jesus, echoed by King, to love my opponent, to pursue genuine reconciliation and to hope the best for them while always insisting on justice and truth. I thought about how I have chosen this work and gratefully so and will continue to choose it--to have those hard conversations with people who cannot yet see how beautiful we are, how we are whole and holy and have peace with God and so much to share.

But before I leave FGC, I need to experience the healing touch of Jesus, which I have readily available through my Friends gathered here. I experience the healing love and the soothing balm through the deep holding hug I get from Tom and the loving cuddles from Dennis and the short but honest exchanges with Liz and the caring listening from Wendy and the wise words from Mother Ahavia, a woman who has soaked in suffering and emerged filled with Light, love and humor.

Sometimes we can grow so strong that we forget how to be weak. This week I am in good hands among Friends as they tend my wounds, carry me for a time and then release me to go out to follow my leading.

UPDATE: I have received lots of loving along with some great times with the high schoolers (I co-lead a workshop for teens this week). It helps to identify what is going on within and then to ask for help. I feel so privilege to had micro communities around the world--in Oregon, Sweden, the UK and elsewhere. I think it is one of my biggest joys these past two years, connecting with people on deep levels around the world. So cool.

I give my plenary address on Thursday, so please hold me in the Light! Thanks



At 2:09 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brokenness is a poweful thing. Contrary to what the world thinks, I believe it is something that brings real power to people, but it isn't a power that corrupts, rather one that releases.

I truly believe that those who recognise their vulnerabilities and weaknesses are those who can fully pursue God's Kingdom on earth and mirror that future perspective in its entirety, in the here and now. I will pray for you today, that you will be held, nurtured and loved back into your fullness. Big love to you today.

At 4:46 AM , Blogger Vivienne "Yuki" Choe said...

I feel the same power of disappointment as you too. I have recently been betrayed and lied to by my own husband, one of our own in the transgender community.

I admit to having disillusionment with the community as it stands now, it is actually placing me in a position of doubts whether I should go on with my activism work.

But looking at how you and I loved the LGBT community, I realise that if we who do good and do love exist, there are surely many of us out there who will bear the hurt with us. God did not send me a friend from Connecticut, US for nothing. He sent you to my life to commune with me across the seas with the message of love. I am so proud to have got to know you dear.

At 9:44 AM , Blogger Joe G. said...

Glad you're getting some emotional and spiritual nurturance. You deserve it. Maybe time for an extended interlude to recoup?

At 11:28 AM , Blogger Carol said...

Peterson - you are such a dear man, whom I (among so many) love and respect. This distant friendship extends to but does not include the work that you do. What I mean is the YOU are important, not just the work.
I'm sure it does more help for you to be safe with your Friends at Meeting, and please know that we in far places are also sending prayers for health and healing your way to build you up from your weakness.

At 2:14 PM , Blogger Selly said...

Hi Peterson. I am sending out warm fuzzy thoughts to you.


At 7:39 PM , Blogger Peterson Toscano said...

auntie, great words, thank you. See you SOON!

Yuki, wow, I had no idea. I hope we get to connect through skype or something next week when I get home. I support you in the work that you do. You have such an important ministry.

joe g., so is that an invitation????

carol, I love speaking with you on the phone and feel so grateful for your loving support. Can't wait to talk soon.

At 11:04 AM , Blogger paul said...


I got a third of the way through this thread and scrolled to the top asking: "is this Peterson?" My initial response was, "he hides his pain well." But really, I know better. Auntie D nailed it. Here is a favorite poem of mine from a 16th century author, Michael Molinos.

Because we make a wound of our medicine
He makes a medicine of our wound, so that
we who are injured by virtue may be cured by



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