Over the years I have had to come to terms with a certain impish energy that I have found living in me. It was not my idea, I wanted to grow up into a big tough guy. In coming to terms with this energy as a young adult I accepted that I was playing the role of the fool, and my favorite fools were the jesters in medieval courts. I understood them to be smart, socially-adept, close to the centers of power, but not holding formal power themselves. The combination of skill and position allowed them to joke with the king and others about things people were afraid to bring up. They took advantage of passing situations to point to truths that the world of hierarchical power was having trouble recognizing. They did this with off-the-cuff remarks, rather than prepared speeches, and the humorous remarks were often odd or ambiguous, containing a primary meaning for all to understand but offering a secondary meaning for those who had ears to hear.
I have never been in a king’s court and do not take the metaphor of “jester” too literally. And yet, I have discovered over the years that while I don’t like being in positions of hierarchal power, I am comfortable standing next to them, and that I often have something to offer, frequently through the vehicle of a humorous remark.
And what does this have to do with being Clerk of TCFM? This is where the “magic” comes in. I don’t pretend to understand the synchronistic events within myself and the TCFM community that have led me to becoming its clerk. I simply marvel that this has happened.
That is not to say I will make light of my responsibilities. I promise to take them seriously. But my energy, my “magic,” my gifts that I bring to the work, contain a good portion of what I call the fool.
I believe that is just fine. I trust that I have been brought into this role among us at a time when what I have to offer will be beneficial. We’ll see.
My message to you, my community, at this point, is that sometimes your clerk will be odd. On the one hand, I could argue that Meeting has gotten a little stuffy, and that it can use some fresh air. On the other hand I could say that Nominating Committee had already asked a lot of other people to serve, and they had said “no;” I am the best that TCFM can do, at this point in our history.
Appreciating my gifts, compensating for my weaknesses
In any case, here we are. I greatly admire the sense of gravitas Marianne Clinton-McCausland was able to bring to the role of clerk, and I am sorry that I have much less of that to offer. I will do the best I can, with what I bring.
And to the extent that there are things lacking in my style of leadership, dear Friends, I am counting on you to supply them. This fool is looking to cultivate a collective style of leadership among us. If you sense that discussion during MWB has gotten too heady, or that significant emotional realities are not being given enough weight, ask for some moments of silence. If you know that the discussion at hand is going to take a long time and that there is a later agenda item that needs to be dealt with before the end of the meeting, please point this out. I am not saying that I will deal perfectly with surprising suggestions from you, but I want to hear them. I want us all to hear them, and, as a group, to find our way forward as best we can.
One of the benefits of a person like myself being clerk at this point in the life of our meeting is the contrast with Marianne. I cannot “replace” her. I cannot fill her shoes. I will do clerking in my own way, and we, the community, will adapt to this, appreciating the gifts I bring, and compensating for my weaknesses. Assistant Clerk Anne Supplee is our first line of defense!
And, as the TCFM community discovers it CAN function with this oddly-gifted clerk, I hope it will embolden others of you to think about taking positions of greater responsibility, in the months and years ahead. You don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to live up to your ideal of who you “really should be,” to offer valuable leadership in a community that is watching out for you, and helping you when you need it.