Project Awesome

Making my life more awesome

Communing with, well, anyone I can find who’ll join in

on March 29, 2014

A couple of weeks ago I went away for a weekend with my Quaker meeting.  It was astonishingly lovely.  Not that I had low expectations, but I was a bit scared of spending a weekend with people who I don’t really know that well, and anxious about how Big Girl and Small Girl’s table manners would go down.  Fortunately I didn’t need to worry.  Big Girl and Small Girl spent the weekend running riot with all the other children and young people there.  One of the loveliest things was seeing teenagers caring for my two girls – all the children looked after each other.  I really saw the Quaker commitment to equality play out over the weekend.  The teenagers were treated – and behaved – like ‘people’ rather than ‘young people’: they came into the adult sessions when they wanted to, and for the ones they would be less likely to enjoy, there was an alternative.  I never spend time with teenagers and, quite honestly, am usually a bit scared of them – I didn’t have a great experience of teenagers when I was one – and it was such a pleasure to spend time with these teenagers over the weekend.

One of the sessions was entitled ‘What we are rich in’ and was based around a sermon which you can read here (and I’d really recommend it).  We discussed the things we are rich in, and the things we are poor in.  I feel incredibly rich – financially I have everything I need and money for luxuries, and I have two fabulous children, and a lovely house, and we’re all healthy, and I have lots of friends and a supportive family, and all seven seasons of West Wing to watch whenever I want.  So I feel pretty lucky.  But one of the things I feel poor in is a lack of community.  I felt this sense of community on my Quaker weekend, and I felt the loss of it when I got home to a house with just me and no other adults in it.

This sense of something missing was reinforced after spending a few days with one of my university housemates.  She lives in a house with two other women and they practice intentional community – sharing food, sharing resources and sharing their lives.  I loved seeing how they live together, and have interesting conversations, and love one another, and encourage each other to live with their shared values.  And I loved feeling part of it – feeling welcomed and cared for, talking about things which matter to me and my life, feeling accepted, and having fun and laughing.

Community, what I feel I’m missing, is a network of relationships and shared values and intentionality.  I have lots of friends, but my friendships largely work on an individual basis rather than inter-relating.  I want to feel part of something bigger, a group, people who know each other and work together and encourage each other and can be honest with each other.  My hope is that I can find that at my Quaker meeting, as I get to know people and get more involved.  It’s hard because of logistics – I can’t get out so much because of my children – and my fears – I have some issues around trusting relationships after my marriage ended.  But every time I experience community, I know it’s something I want and need.  It’s good to be reminded, every so often, of my poverty so I remember to keep looking for the riches.


4 responses to “Communing with, well, anyone I can find who’ll join in

  1. So many aspects of this post resonated really strongly with me! I was feeling very apprehensive indeed about the weekend, particularly about the catering as the venue had been so rubbish about child-friendly menus and mealtimes. But it all evaporated the moment we arrived when HannahD took Katy off to join in the fun with the other kids while we settled into our room. And that feeling of being supported by the Quaker community just grew and grew. It was a joy to see your little ones running to ‘their’ older children when they needed reassurance!
    I like your identification of ‘intentionality’.

    • Sorry, it’s taken me about three years to actually moderate your comment…

      I think one of the things I liked about the weekend was spending a good amount of time with a smaller number of people and being able to get to know them better. And also, talking to people about going away before the event, and hearing other people say they were nervous – sometimes I feel as if I’m the only person with anxieties and difficulties about being part of Meeting, and that everyone else has been going since birth – it’s good to be reminded that everyone else has their own issues and worries. I also really liked the feeling that really, no-one minded if I asked them to keep an eye on my children. I often feel that I’m impinging on people because I so often need help, but that weekend I didn’t.

      I would really like to find some way to experience more intentional community on a regular basis. I think I really like the way it requires you to articulate and discuss your values, and really work at making relationships work.

      • Rachel Little says:

        It was one of my new year’s resolutions to put more effort into sustaining my relationships with friends. Then I hear from my ‘best friend’ in Berlin that she’s got breast cancer and I realise why it’s important to put some effort into making even established relationships work.

        • I’m really sorry to hear that. I hope it’s the less awful kind of cancer.

          I’ve found that a lot of my friendships have changed over the past couple of years: there have been people who I have become much closer to and people I no longer have any contact with. It’s partly circumstances, partly some people have surprised me by being more helpful or less supportive than I would have imagined. And I have a lot less time and energy now than I used to, so it’s harder to sustain all the relationships I would like to.

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