June 16, 2006

Interest group at Gathering

Life has been crazy-busy for me, in between the trips I am taking. So, in preparation for FGC's Gathering and before my last few minutes of free time are taken up by some other silly thing I remember needs doing, I thought I'd share this with you:

Fellow Quaker bloggers Robin and Martin and I have plans to convene an interest group on Monday night at the Gathering. Thanks to Beppe for his early input and support for this idea.

Here's the interest group's title and description. I believe a list of interest groups will be included in the registration packet that Friends receive on-site.

On Fire! Renewing Quakerism through a Convergence of Friends

Excited by the renewal of classic Quakerism? Want to reclaim traditional disciplines and language that seem on the brink of being lost? Interested in new forms for a living faith? We'll share how we are communicating across Quaker schisms and addressing our spiritual hunger as Friends. Hosted by Friends from QuakerQuaker.org.
Perhaps we'll see some of you there... if not on Monday night, then other times during the week.


UPDATE, Sixth Month 2006: Martin has asked me to "tag" this post so it will become part of what I think of as an online archive about the 2006 Gathering. So here 'goes: .

UPDATE, Seventh Month 2006: To read some of what happened during the interest group, take a look at this post-Gathering entry.

June 3, 2006

Bearing witness in a
commercially-run household

This week my partner and I have been in south Florida, visiting our 5-year-old niece and her folks. I am beginning to think of our visits as an opportunity to bear witness to a different way of being in the world, compared to what Madison is exposed to here, and how we live our own lives as Friends.

Madison is a vocal, demonstrative little Disney princess, and when she is not in school and when we aren't visiting, her usual daytime activity is watching television:

network TV
cable TV

Not necessarily in that order.

So when we visit, one of the first things we do is entice Madison away from the boob tube.

"Madison, do you want to play a game with us?"

No answer. Eyes staring straight ahead at Scooby Doo.

"Hmm. Guess not. (audible sigh) Well, we'll go over here and you can visit us whenever you want."

Three seconds later, our little princess plops herself at the chair next to me. "What are you doing?" she wants to know.

"Just drawing..." and soon we are sharing a pen or some crayons back and forth.

Yesterday, while my sweetie was taking a nap and Madison's folks were at work, Madison asks me: "Do you want to exercise with me?"

Tired as I was, I pulled myself up and joined her in the living room. "Leg circles!" she announces, and falls to her side, lifting one leg into the air and making small circles with it. I join her, and we move into leg scissors, push-ups, and squats.

When we're done, she asks me if I want to play a game. "I'm good at playing games," she announces. But I say I just want to lay on the floor a bit, and we start making rhymes together:

Is that a rat?
No, a bat.
Oh drat, it's on the mat!

My reward is a little chuckle from this precious little girl.

Then I say, "Once upon a time..." and she rolls her eyes like a teenager might.

"What?! You don't want to help me make up a story?" I ask. Eye-roll...

"Well, how about I tell you a story from my own life?" and she suddenly becomes alert and nods her head vigorously.

I tell her about the time I saw a man pull out a gun and how I called the police; and about the time I was on a sailboat for the first time in my life and a thunderstorm broke open the skies and I thought I was going to die for sure.

After about 20 minutes, we are both still, and I say to her, "Hey, Madison, do you know what this is called, what we've been doing all this time?"

"No, what?"

"It's called being. We don't have to DO anything; we can just BE. Isn't this fun?"

Vigorous head-nod. "Yes!"

And for a few hours yesterday, we had no television, no Pretty Pretty Princess, no Kim Possible computer games.

Will it make a difference after we are gone, when the television turns into the babysitter and her bedtime story is a cartoon figure off of TiVo?

Well, it seems to make a difference for those few days when my partner and I are in town. At least to me.