Quaker “Elders” Seminar, Day Three. Sunday, and Monday.

Nitty gritty.  We had discussed all the things that can happen in meeting, and today we shared what we can do about it.  The things I heard were similar to the mediator’s course I attended a few months back: listen, believe you are hearing the truth of that person, don’t judge.  I shared about the danger of gossip, and that one is responsible for one’s own feelings.

Poop: People Objecting to Over-Packaging
Poop: People Objecting to Over-Packaging

If you are hurt, its your responsiblity to deal with it, not an elder’s to ‘fix’ it, and some things are never resolved, apart from in your own heart.

When it came to the end of the seminar, just before meeting with the locals, we all gave some response to what we had worked with over the seminar, and give a commitment for action.  It was hard to know what to say, because the whole experience had been quite overwhelming.  The image that came to mind was that of a river: you can cup your hands in part of it, and drink, but look at all the rest of the water rushing by…

My commitment was to write about the seminar in my blog.  A bit of a cheat, as I was doing it anyway!

I’m billeting at J’s, a friend of all the local wildlife.  This morning a green finch had bashed its head against the window, and she had a box with a hot water bottle in it set up, but unfortunately it died while we were in meeting.  The sticker above is stuck to her front door.

I’ve spent the majority of the day on Monday partly paying back the hospitality I’ve had at the settlement by fixing a few computer problems – getting their big printer on the wireless network, sorting out J.’s workstation and email, and there are a few things to be done yet.  I  feel really very grateful I can help out with things here.

The settlement itself is quite astonishing.  Quakers are notoriously difficult to come to decisions, but the idealism and vision of a few has created an intentional community that seems very, very healthy indeed.  There are a mix of ages here – young families through to elderly residents, and some people who are renting who are not part of the community as such, but sympatico…  There is a genuine sense of a willingness to work at making it all work – putting in the effort required to make it all hang together.  Its characterised by a cheerful pragmatism.

I’ll write more as I get a sense of distance on this experience, but I think that visiting the community   here has very much crystallised my appreciation of Quakerism as something I can identify with.  The sheer diversity of opinion (from Buddhist to Christian to non-theist) and not simple acceptance, but thirst for difference I’ve seen practically demonstrated has been inspiring.

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