I do love the quiet room.Â The settlement is a lovely place, but the quiet room is the real centre of it.
Its not a meeting room: thatâ€™s in town, just a room thatâ€™s used for meeting for worship every day (except Sunday, when they use the Whanganui meeting room).Â Its octagonal, and has a large skylight in the middle – it reminds me of the Pantheon in Rome, which is my favorite building So Far.Â Sitting with other Friends in silence, the light flooding the middle, it feels like a kind and warm place.Â Tall windows around the wall let in more light, and views of greenery.Â Can you tell I like it?Â I had the pleasure of meeting Michael Payne, a settlement member who was the architect for the settlement in general.Â Iâ€™d love to sit in the room and have a chat to him about it in some detail.
Last night we each (and thereâ€™s over 30 of us) shared on what our expectations were for the weekend.Â It was really re-assuring that many said they felt too young, too immature, not quakerly enough to qualify as an â€˜elderâ€™.Â I know thatâ€™s how I feel.Â One of the ameliorating facts fro me is we donâ€™t have elders as such in Dunedin, but members of a â€˜pastoral careâ€™ meeting, who look to the â€˜oversightâ€™ of the meeting as a whole.Â I think its a kinder notion: eldering has the connotations of discipline, which doesnâ€™t seem to fit with the culture as well as â€˜looking afterâ€™.
My laptop spellchecker thinks the word â€˜elderingâ€™ should be â€˜endearingâ€™.Â Iâ€™m not sure I agree with it.
The day continued with an overview of eldering (what the hell, thatâ€™s the word everyone is using) from a historical perspective, and then group discussions about what we think its role is.Â I love the group discussions: its wonderful to have a chance to talk to people who have considered these things (amongst others) quite deeply.Â And its a laugh: there is a gentle sense of humour here, self deprecating dry, smart.
There is a lot of talk about the role being one not of prescription, not of a list of â€œnotsâ€, but allowing the meeting to grow as it will, to think about tradition as a guide, not a harness, ad that we will know viscerally if things are right.Â To trust ourselves.
For a quarter hour we were encouraged to act as disruptively as we liked, mirroring behaviour that we had seen in meeting.Â Pens were clicked, ministry on â€œwhat we had seen on the way to meeting this morningâ€ was given, as well as ministry through prancing.Â Snoring was heard.Â Interruptions were made.Â There was much laughter.
The point made that I have retained was most of these behaviours were â€˜pet peevesâ€™.Â If we could see that they were getting up our nose, maybe we could appreciate it was just our irritation that was bothering us, not the behaviour itself.
That would up a dayâ€™s work, and the evening was a DVD of Bill Bailey at the Royal Albert Hall, messing about with a full orchestra.Â Very silly.