Hopes & Dreams
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Hopes & Dreams

Where have you been? Leave your mark!

Photo by Robert Baker on Unsplash

I set the Sat Nav for the Quakers in Sutton Coldfield and in twenty minutes I was out of Birmingham and unto a rural road to Sutton. The Meeting House was on the way to the town though set up a lane with few buildings adjoining.

I had stayed in Great Barr, Birmingham overnight as part of what has become part of an annual pilgrimage to the Heart of England. Aj and I had our annual summit (how’s the year been / how are you) last night after which I travelled to Joan and Jimmy’s who kindly gave me a bed for the night.

The clocks reacted to Spring’s arrival by springing an hour forward. I didn’t particularly miss the hour awakening rested at 8 00 am. I did recall 27 years earlier I had awoken in the same room panicked at the thought of hitching- hiking to Europe. I had stopped off with Joan and Jimmy on my way. Now I was feeling slightly anxious about the future. You can’t really stop the thoughts that come in the morning but you can respond to them. A guy the other day who I had an appointment with told me that he had been awake since 3 45 am due to our appointment. I understood this as I too find my mind gives unnecessary time to particular things like appointments. It’s not rational we both knew that but it happens, all the same, it’s what we do with it. Curiously, on the same day another guy appeared whose face looked the picture of fear. He thought there was a serious consequence as he had forgotten that we were due to meet, there wasn’t but his mind reacted with fear. I understood that too as my mind can go into overdrive. So, this morning when my mind tries to generate a mini panic I counteract it with the tools I have learned, you guessed it, ‘Turn from fear to love, live in the present not the future’.

The task of getting to an unknown location begins to act as a story in which I always say, “If you take one step it will lead to another and you will find yourself moving to that place and then in that place.”

Part of me was wondering why anyone would cross the threshold of so many places. For me it is like bungee jumping, there is a nervousness but greater is the curiosity and desire that gets me there. Yes, I know it is only a Quaker meeting.

Once over the threshold, any nerves have gone, “ You are here now.” I am a little early so only a few Friends are around trying to get the place ready. We speak while they prepare and I read posters and magazines. Not quite sure of where the meeting room is I ask and I am shown the way. This too is an experience, being guided, observing the place and entering the room. I immediately respond to the much light pouring through the windows. The chairs are in the familiar circle. I find a seat, back row, end seat, just like the cinema. I feel comfortable and relax in the silence. There are two others present. Five minutes before 10 30 am 17 people join us.

I noticed a microphone amongst the books that fill the Quaker centrally placed table. I think, “This is how they have solved the many comments I hear about people not hearing what others say.” Sure enough, each Friend who speaks and there are six who do pick up the microphone.

The words, “ Where have you been?” stick with me. It had been said it is easier to tell where we have been than to where we are going. Yet this morning if asked I would have said, “ I am going to Sutton Coldfield Quakers.” That was a statement of faith as I may not have gotten there. Now I can say, “I have been to Sutton Coldfield Quakers.” There is a difference because having been I now have an experience of Sutton Coldfield Quakers it is not just what I had imagined.

That is central to Quaker belief that we should speak from our experience not from what others have experienced but from our own. Don’t just believe something enter into it and experience it as then you can tell of your experience and not just of your imagination.

They had a shared lunch after the service and although I politely said I would stay only for tea an hour later I was tucking into a tasty homemade quiche. The conversation was easy with those I sat. That experience spoke to me about the warmth of the people with who I had joined as a stranger.

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Dream and Exceed!

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Gordie Jackson

Gordie Jackson

Speaks with a Northern Irish accent, lives in Hertfordshire, England.

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