Thursday, 21 July 2011

Sustaining the Future

Small groups of friends have been gathering in the Meeting House over the past few months to explore, reflect and initiate action on how to sustain ourselves within - and as - a Quaker community, here in Sheffield.

'Growing in the Spirit - changing the way we live to sustain the world we live in' has been a series of four worship-sharing sessions designed as preparation for Britain Yearly Meeting Gathering, which this year has taken 'sustainability' as its theme.

The opening session gave space for reflecting on what we need as individuals in order to sustain our spiritual lives; then each subsequent session expanded the question to include first our Quaker community, then our local community, and finally the natural world as a whole.

All good stuff. But, what is 'sustainability'? Is it a subjective idea (I think it is when I use the word!) or is it something more calculable, scientific? I therefore wonder if 'nourishment' is a more useful word...

What nourishes us as humans, as part of an ecological reality? What feeds our spiritual existence? What acts of nurturing can move me toward loving action in the place I live, connecting me with others who are different from me?

For my part, I've come to realise that I must put my hands in the soil - to get on my knees , to dig, to plant, to tend and to harvest. (I have NO experience of how to grow a crop, so I really am a beginner.) It was most interesting to me that the final of these four sessions - which invited us to reflect on ways to sustain our natural world - re-animated my reflections from each previous session. Other friends seemed to concur: a vision emerged...

What if, as a Quaker community, we return to the soil?

Sheffield Quakers source a patch of land on which to grow food and, there, we come together. Here's communal worship. In my action, I foster good health and a felt connection with that of God in all things. Here's a spiritual life. Others are invited to come, to learn new skills and to share in the fruits of community. Here's local resilience.

This vision seems to satisfy both the whole (Earth) and the particular (the here and now). Is that 'sustainability'?

So, as a jumping off point, I'm keen to know - do any friends wish to join me on this adventure? Is there a patch of land, in or near Sheffield, that we could take care of, as a 'growing concern'? I'm up for digging down...

1 comment:

Craig Barnett said...

Sounds a wonderful idea Steve - in the great tradition of the radical English Reformation:

"True religion, and undefiled, is to let every one quietly have earth to manure, that they may live in freedom by their labors." (Gerrard Winstanley C17th)