Monday, January 14, 2013

Full Circle

I am at Pendle Hill for a retreat on environmental stewardship for religious leaders.  I get to spend three nights in this lovely holy place with religious leaders from many faiths-- Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, Catholic-- learning and teaching together from our diverse locations. I am a member of the 2013 GreenFaith Fellowship Program, and I am thrilled to be back at Pendle Hill.

If you don't know Pendle Hill, it's a Quaker retreat, conference, and study center on 24 acres in Wallingford, PA. Folks come for conferences, to study, to do art, to be among Friends.  It's also where I have had some of my greatest spiritual growth. 
me in 2002 at Pendle Hill

I came here first as a student in 1997, for a term in the spring, as a resident student. I then returned in summer of 1999 to be a summer staffer in between my second and third year of seminary. And again, and finally my last return to Pendle Hill was in 2001, to be a seasoned Social Action Social Witness intern, sharing my skills with the community and engaging in non-violence training in prison and community with the Alternatives to Violence Project. I learned bio-intensive gardening here, and worked in the bookstore. I left that work in 2003. 

Pendle Hill is a type of home for me.  A home I left a decade ago and only recently started returning to, now with a child, a partner, a life apart from this place that for quite awhile seemed like the place I was meant to come back to, someday. Come back to stay. Come back to be in community, to live, to grow old and die here. 
This tree was planted in spring 1997 in honor of Wilf Howarth,
at the rise of my first meeting for worship at Pendle Hill. 

This returning, however, is different than I had once imagined. This returning is to a place that holds so much memory, is full of nostalgia and meaning. The space where we are meeting, even this space has many memories-- frenetic drumming circles raising me to crazy heights on a hot June night, meeting Vincent and Rosemarie Harding and their Veterans of Hope elders, experiencing deep healing around the hurts of racism and homophobia with Niyonu Spann in her Beyond Diversity 101 workshop, cleaning bathrooms and making beds as part of my summer housekeeping job with beloved Charlotte and Alison, doing dishes and serving food as a work exchange student with the charismatic Sonya, Costa Rican Quaker chef, teacher, folksinger, friend. All of this happened to me here, in this space where I am writing right now. And there is more that will surface over the next days. And I am ready for it. 

Even the art in this room is made by the amazing Melanie Weidner who I knew when she was here as an arts scholar. I feel like everything here has a person's face connected with it, a beloved face that I cannot keep with me when I am not here. Each memory is a gift.

Now I am seeing that I am living a full circle. I have returned here to be confirmed in my vision for the life and work in my heart. I feel as if I have arrived back where I began, at a place of need and being met in my need, in a place that has much to give. And this returning is telling me that it is time to jump off this wheel, into the blessed unknown of vision and seeking space for that vision. 

This is a post of gratitude for the deep stream that is carrying me, whether or not I recognize it. This deep stream carries these memories, these faces, the souls who have traveled along, for awhile, and touched my life. Here's a moment where I can see the stream clearly, eddying around my feet, calling me on, and downstream, further along this beloved path. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for inviting us into your upward spiral of memory, community, and growth. Beautiful reminder!