Do you want to hear a story that is still weirding me out?
The last event of the week-long diversity/inclusion workshop was structured like a Quaker meeting. We all sat in a circle in silence, and anyone who felt moved to say something stood up and did so. We weren't supposed to respond in any way, just take it in. It was a great way to end, actually; I'd been thinking that they were going to end on a rah-rah note -- and there were certainly moments during the week that had a tent revival meeting flavor -- but ending with quiet resolve was much better.
I wasn't going to say anything, but then I thought of something that I thought was significant enough that it was worth sharing, and so I said it. But mostly I sat there in silence and listened. All good.
So here's the weird part: Afterward, the woman sitting next to me turned to me, clutched my hand, said my name, and then started crying. That was odd enough, since she was someone I'd certainly met during the week but hadn't connected with in any meaningful way. (There were almost 100 of us there, so there were folks I got to know really well and some folks I never even met and a lot of folks, like this woman, whom I talked with maybe once.) It hardly seemed possible that she was this moved by saying goodbye to me.
She cried for probably a couple of minutes before she could calm down enough to talk. And this is what she said:
WN, I was sitting here in silence, and God spoke to me. God rarely speaks to me in words, but that's what happened. And God said, "WN has something to say that you need to hear. You need to pray for her, that she'll stand up and speak, because you need to hear her words.
So, um, that's weird. I asked her if what I'd said had in fact been helpful, and she nodded and said that she'd come to this workshop, knowing that something would happen that would help her articulate her educational philosophy (which I guess she needs to write up for her current job), and that what I'd said had been what she'd needed to hear.
I'm so glad, of course, that what I said was helpful to at least one person in the room. But it's also not entirely clear to me what one says in reply to being told that God wanted you to say what you said. I couldn't just say, "Okay, well then, glad that worked out" and head out. So we sat there holding hands for awhile, which I found kind of awkward. What's the wait time after speaking with the apparent authority of God? I'm not sure.
We finally got up and hugged while she cried some more. And I asked her to please send me her statement of educational philosophy once she wrote it, because I felt connected to it now. And she said we definitely needed to keep in touch.
So how's that for a freaky ending to an intense week?