What I’m Continuing to Hold

November 11, 2022 | Eva Whittaker

Photo: On October 30, 2022, Dwight Dunston delivered the BHFH Ernest and Esther Weed Memorial Lecture: “Rage against the system, tend joy and connection.”

Wherever you are, I’m sending you all light and care in this Autumn transition. I’ve been so grateful for all the gifts this season has brought me and all it’s been bringing up in me.

On October 30th, we had our Ernest and Esther Weed Memorial Lecture here at BHFH — and this year, the lecture was given by Dwight Dunston. He spoke about the “skill and the will” of Kingian Nonviolence as an embodied practice and what that practice of this philosophy through embodied action can hold for Quaker communities today.

Dwight and I are currently participating in NEYM’s Nurturing Faithfulness program, and he invited me into dialogue with him as part of the lecture.

Dwight and I spoke about the generativity of vulnerability and grief — that the difficult and big questions of how we can be vulnerable with one another and how we can hold grief that helps us tend to our connection with one another. It’s from a deep, empathetic connection that we can collectively rage against the oppressive systems around us.

King talks about “Beloved Community,” which is a group of people that come together truly and authentically, to wrestle with injustice and centers care for everyone. This kind of community requires that we take action for transformative — it’s embodied, real, and centering care of each other through action.

Something that I’ve continued to hold since the lecture with Dwight is that the future we hope to imagine and cultivate together must be grounded in sustainable action and deep reflection; there is no space for passivity, and individually and communally, we need to actively disrupt patterns of oppression and honor patterns of faithfulness and care.

Our capacity to live our values is connected to an openness to joining our vulnerabilities and flourishing. But that also requires relationships moving at the speed of trust and creating a community container where every single one of us feels it is safe to show up authentically, in our complexity and contradiction, and that we are held in that.

This feels very connected to something that Friend Diego Navarro spoke to our Nurturing Faithfulness Group about a few weeks ago: that when we are in touch with grief and with suffering, we are closer to Spirit, to something larger than us, to something sacred and that holds so much life-giving potential. That “something larger” also means “community” to me.

As I continue to support programming and community life here at BHFH, I’m reflecting on how to craft and tend spaces of authenticity and belonging where we can hold each other accountable and cultivate awareness and care for our growing edges. I’m excited to continue reflecting on all of these questions as I grow in the community.

You can view the recording of the 2022 Ernest and Esther Weed Memorial Lecture here.

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