Saturday, 22 May 2010

Exploring Feminine Spirituality

A fresh idea or experience to Sheffield (although other Quaker groups in this country already have started or travelled their own adventure) is the chance to join others once a month to explore feminine spirituality.

This group's journey starts for the first time on Saturday, June 26
7:00-9:00 Sheffield Central Meeting House Library.

All welcome in the evening (men and women). More details to be announced in Notices and Newsletter and then the initial path(s) to be decided upon and tweaked by the group itself as it evolves. No training or equipment required except your Quaker principles.

We are asking people to bring along an object that represents someting "feminine" to you for discussion on this first evening (next month we'll probably discuss the word "spirituality" or maybe "exploring").

If you have any questions about this evening, feel free to contact us beforehand. Our contact details and more about this are in the June Newsletter.

Ruth Hallam-Jones
Nadine Wills

Friday, 21 May 2010

Moving to Zimbabwe

As some of you may have heard already, Kate and I have recently decided to move out to Zimbabwe later this year, where I will be taking up the post of Director at Hlekweni Friends Rural Service, near Bulawayo.

Hlekweni is a Zimbabwean Quaker-led charity that provides training in vocational skills, including sustainable agriculture, carpentry and early years education to young people from all over the country. It is doing crucial work to give people the skills to earn a living and support themselves and their families in a country which now has 90% unemployment and massive poverty.

Obviously this is a huge step for us as a family with young children. We have been very encouraged by Sheffield Friends who supported us with making this decision through a Meeting for Clearness. It is very important to us to know that we are going with the support of our Meeting, and with a continuing connection to Friends here. We don't know how long we will be at Hlekweni for, probably for several years, but we intend to return to Sheffield after that.

Hlekweni, and Zimbabwe as a whole, are facing enormous challenges. I was reassured by a recent visit that Matabeleland is a relatively safe and peaceful area of the country (certainly much safer than where we lived in South Africa in '97-8). Hlekweni is also very well known throughout the region. It has been running for over 40 years, with generations of young people graduating from their training programmes, which are highly regarded in the country. This means that it is seen as an asset to the country, and police and local authorities continue to be very supportive of its work.

There is also a primary school for local children on site, which Moya and Jonathan will be able to attend. One of the things that Kate and I most want for our children is the experience of sharing their lives with an African community, and having their consciousness shaped by those friendships and encounters. Moya is especially excited about the chance to live in Africa, learn a new language (Ndebele), make new friends and keep animals...

We very much want to keep in touch with all of our Friends in Sheffield and the rest of the UK while we are in Zimbabwe. Hlekweni now has broadband, and we can phone and even text(!) so we can keep up with each others' news (including this blog). Volunteers and visitors would also be very welcome. There is plenty of guest accommodation (including the house in the picture above), and a canteen for meals. Volunteer help is especially useful in the areas of permaculture, appropriate technology, education and play-work, arts and creative activities, conflict resolution (Hlekweni also runs AVP workshops), computing and finance, amongst others...

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Talking of Poetry... Ghazal 3

I started writing this after meeting with a small group of Quakers last week. I keep using the same form (roughly) - the Ghazal - as I used in the two previous poems I posted. Each couplet is supposed to stand alone as well as forming part of the whole - not sure I've really got this completely but anyway, I'd like to share it. The last couplet has this 'poet's voice' that comes in - I use an alias instead of my name - my 'takhallus' - I use Llew, the nickname of my maternal grandfather, the sort of family uberpoet!

Jane's rug!

Friends. When we sat together pleased to rest,
from listening our hearts pleased to rest.

Between us on the floor a woven rug,
where my eyes did linger seeking rest.

My thoughts wander the patterns on the rug,
unsettled, I find there's no place to rest.

Specular chemistry ignites the rug,
whose threads, fused, smoulder in their place of rest.

Between us, like some ancient test, this rug's
a whirlpool, dizzying the pace of rest.

I read the weaver's cosmic map, the rug
chaotic, helps me fly, to chase off rest.

Llew laughs: Such Grand Plans! laid out on a rug!
The whole universe in the face of rest.