Monday, June 16, 2008

Convergences: On Barnesville

We visited my in-laws on Father's Day. Much of the conversation was about the move to Barnesville and that caused me to think about what has led to this change.

We tend to look for a simple script, but layers of converging circumstances have brought us to the brink of Barnesville.

Certainly, major changes coming to Roger's contract, as well as his office's move from Silver Spring to Rosslyn, motivated him to look for a new job. However, he'd contacted Olney about a job last summer, before all the changes were even imagined. On the other hand, the longer commute and other issues make leaving the current job easier.

Olney Friends School having a house on campus available for us as well as the opportunity to take meals in the dining hall was crucial to the decision: We wanted a complete lifestyle change, not another commute from home to work and all the rush, rush we currently experience.

The proximity of Stillwater Friends was attractive. We can walk to meeting.

The boys turning 14 this year was crucial: if we didn't have children who could benefit from a Quaker education, the job would have been less compelling. Sophie possibly doing a year at the school is also attractive.

My (re)entree into freelance writing has made the move much less complicated as I don't have to leave a job.

All of these factors were like pebbles in the bowl of a spoon: one by itself would not have tipped us, but one after the other after the other-- job changes on this end, the meaningful work opportunity, the kids' education, the chance for a new lifestyle, my work flexibility-- all finally spilled the whole pile into Barnesville.

More subtly, 12 years of (in my case, Christ-centered) Quakerism worked a transformation that made it possible and desirable to make this kind of move. The possible is more important than the desirable, because it's the (just bare) psychological/spiritual ability to actually do what is desirable that makes all the difference. When the opportunity/leading came, we were (if just barely) ready. Despite the problems facing liberal Quakerism, the movement of the holy spirit remains alive in Quaker meetings (whether it's recognized or not or on life-support or not) and the emphasis on simple living, integrity and expectant, silent worship (not to exalt any of this at all) works on one. All of this underscores the importance of community, the "where two or more are gathered."

Have you had an experience in which layers of things converged to make the improbable possible?


Unknown said...

Very cool, My wife and I loved our visit to Barnesville last year, when Martin and I did a workshop on convergent Friends. It's a very open and exciting group of Quakers there, and I think you'll find some kindred spirits. Plus, it will be fun to meet you at some point, as we visit our families in Canton and Toledo at least a couple times a year.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your family move to Barnesville!
You said ,
''Despite the problems facing liberal Quakerism, the movement of the holy spirit remains alive in Quaker meetings''.
I totally agree with you.
But there are times when I struggle on why do I go to Meeting?
My Meeting is small five-ten, sometimes three on first day.
Not always a cohesive group theologically or socially.
But when I enter the silence on First day morning all that stuff
drifts away for a time and I experience a oneness with my Friends.
Even if I am unable to be fully present, I can show up and make an appearance.
God is already present, always present. I am the one who has to show up, and the discipline of showing up again and again,
whether I feel prayerful
or not, is essential to the relationship.
This wonderful poem/prayer by Rainer Maria Rilke on
American Public Media Speaking of Faith.
I love you, gentlest of Ways, who ripened us as we wrestled with you.
You, the great homesickness we could never shake off; you, the forest that
always surrounded us; you, the song we sang in every silence; you, dark
net threading through us. On the day you made us, you created yourself,and we grew sturdy in your sunlight. Let your hand rest on the rim of Heaven now and mutely bear the darkness we bring over you."Amen

kevin roberts said...

The food at the school is really good. Ask an old-timer about the "Unidentified Frying Objects" before you eat any of them, though.

Hurry up and move here. There's lots of room.

Diane said...

I'm going to try to get a comment to post. Wess, I hope we can meet. Paul, thanks for the comment and the Rilke poem. Kevin, I have enjoyed the school's food so far. Never heard "unidentified frying objects" though!