Beyond inside

Sunday morning I biked to Quaker meeting in weather that was spring like. There were flowers on the azalea bush, the rose bush and on the ground cover in our garden. Everything should be in hibernation now but the odd weather pattern has thrown things off course and all the flowers are confused.

Sometimes our meeting for worship is entirely silent, sometimes it is not. Two people spoke this time. A few of their utterances stuck with me all day.

One was about the a Sufi epic poem, the Conference of the Birds. I tried to imagine its Persian name, majlis-e-parandaha perhaps? This book has been around in various forms for centuries and is now re-issued and richly illustrated by Peter Sis. I promptly ordered two copies. I think I know who to give these books to.

The other utterance I have lifted out of its context which makes it even more haunting: “[…]the beyond that is inside us…” I kept meditating on that sentence, adding context…the beyond as in ‘unthinkable, unimaginable both positive (spiritual, divine) and the negative (cruelty, evil). Then there is the ‘beyond’ as in the cosmos – the stuff that everything including us is made of.

Thinking of myself as having some ‘beyond’ particles in my cells stretched me, gave me some perspective and shriveled up my own puny needs into something the size of a cherry pit. I’ve got to remember this when I start to feel whiny.

When I biked back everyone and their brother seemed to be raking leaves, piling them by the side of the road and stuffing them into large paper bags. We are lucky to live by the see. Our land is slowly crumbling away with each storm. So we push garden debris over the side to counter the forces of nature that nibble away at our land.

The warm temperature made it an outdoor day. Axel had a few chores listed and I took the ones that didn’t require heavy lifting. The last storm door has been installed, the flower boxes and lawn chairs put away, the rack for the firewood on the porch filled with logs and anything superfluous that we found along the way was announced as ‘Offer’ on the Freecycle website. We made a few people happy. they picked up a TV, a computer monitor, wireless headphones (a gift from American Express), a school back pack, a trap for squirrels (they won) and a recliner chair. We feel a little lighter now.

This evening Sita came over and brought people who do the same kind of work we do and believe in such outrageous things as ‘the wisdom is in the group.’ We had talked a few months ago on Skype when I was still in Kabul, they in Stowe and Sita in her Easthampton home.

Tonight we finally met over a wicked awesome lentil/sweet potato stew Axel had prepared and talked about the things we do to get people to solve their problems together – something that is akin to my own personal mission (helping people have productive conversations). That is how I found out a group on the west coast is busy transposing Alexander’s pattern language to groups. I spent much time thinking about that earlier this century and found little traction. I gave our guests my paper from 7 years ago hoping it will lead to exciting new contacts and more traction.

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November 2011
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