Archive for June, 2007

Synchronicity

June 29, 2007

On Thursday night I was just leaving the back flat behind George Fox House. I’d been hanging out with Joe and Kate before my friend Tim, who I was staying with, picked me up. Tim called to say he was waiting out the front, so I got my suitcase, hugged Joe goodbye and went up the path.

As I passed the front door of George Fox House, John, one of the Resident Friends, was saying goodbye to a guest. “Hi” I said “I’m not staying this time”. “Are you getting a taxi?” John said. “No” I replied, “my friend’s giving me a ride”. “Where are you going?” said his guest. “Island Bay” I said. “Well, that’s exactly where I need to go” she replied. John then introduced us. “Oh” Marianne laughed. “We’ve just been emailing, I’m Louis and Pearl’s mum”.

We’d emailed just a few days before as her kids were coming to Junior Young Friends camp.  On the way to Island Bay we chatted about her kids, other JYFs and the upcoming camp. She asked me about my work, and it turned out she was going to Island Bay to stay with a school friend who just happened to be a client of mine, who I’d run a workshop with a couple of weeks before!

Sometimes random encounters like that make me think that it’s just too convenient to be coincidence.  I’m so resistant to the idea of fate, or an intentional God though, that I find this tricky. It’s easy just to say “it’s a small world”, and not think about it any more. I’ve had lots of seemingly ‘random’ encounters with other Quakers at GFH, which happen actually just because it’s a hub for traveling Friends.

Maybe it’s just one of the things about living in New Zealand, the degrees of separation are so low that those kind of ‘chance connections’ are fairly common. I can’t help feeling though, that sometimes synchronicity like that is a part of the wider beauty and harmony of the universe. I know that when I’m calm, focused, and in the flow, that sort of thing happens more often. Everything meshes and life becomes a smooth dance of joyous interaction with people and with the world.

To me this goes past fate vs determinism. It’s not a question of free will versus a supernatural being that has a plan for one’s life. It’s a deeper truth beyond that paradox, that when one is at peace, open, and present, the fact that everything is connected, that all is one, becomes more apparent. There is no intention, and no chance, only the flowing tides of a harmonious reality.

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Linguistic Accommodation

June 3, 2007

In May each year the number of people staying at our place each month (bednights in George Fox House terms) drops off. Most traveling YFs have gone back home, generally to their northern hemisphere summers.

Each year we get to meet new people, and get to know them pretty well. There’s something about inviting people into your home, feeding them, having them there when you get up in the morning and get back home from work at night. Depending on their inclinations they play games with the kids, read them stories, put new software on our computers, help in the garden or the kitchen, watch youtube and DVDs with us. They become part of the family for a few nights, or a week or two. Often they’ll go traveling round the South Island then come back for a few nights before they fly out. We miss them while they’re gone, and welcome them home when they’re back.

I like the notion from the early days of Quakers, when if a Friend was traveling in the Ministry, and requested to stay, you had to let them. I travel a lot for business, and I feel totally comfortable asking Friends if I can stay with them. I encourage traveling YFs that we meet at Summer Gathering and other places to stay with us when they’re in town. Somehow, on some universal scales it feels like this is ‘balancing the books’. I hope those that stay with us will feel more inclined to welcome other people into their homes sometime in the future.

The only thing that really makes me in any way glad when people leave, is my tendency towards ‘linguistic accommodation’. This is a term that explains the natural human capability of adapting one’s speech to those around them. It’s the way accents work. It’s the way that ‘speaking the lingo’ allows one to be accepted within a community. Mum came out from England when she was 11. She had hardly a trace of an English accent, except when she was on the phone with her mother, when it came out quite strongly. I notice my speech changing the more I’m around people with other accents. When Carrie and Matt were here, I found myself developing an American accent, and using more Americanisms. It was unconscious and unintentional, and I felt a bit self conscious about it once I noticed. I guess though, that if you open your homes and your hearts to people, you become a little more like them. Something of them rubs off on you, and to me that’s not such a bad thing. The more we’re willing to share of ourselves with each other, the greater chance we have for peace.