Archive for the ‘risk’ Category

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.

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Because it’s there?

January 21, 2007

My father ran the Kepler track when I was a teenager.  It’s a 67 kilometre run. The first time he attempted it he had a cold, and the weather was bad. He had to pull out, and he got quinsey, a very painful large throat ulcer. He was in bed for several days. The next year he went back and ran it again. This time he completed it, in a faster time than he’d expected.

People often ask why one does these things. The cliche response, especially to why you’d climb a mountain, is “because it’s there”. To me, it’s not so much because it’s out there in the world, it’s because there’s a mountain inside you that you have to climb. It’s a question of faith, you believe you are capable of something you’ve never done before. The only way to test that belief is by doing it in the world, but the challenge is within you.

The purpose is not to get the photos from the top of Mt Kilamanjaro, or the certificate for completing the marathon. It’s not even to be able to say to other people that you’ve done it. It’s to know within yourself that you can.

Anything we take on that we’ve never done before, anything that scares us, anything we think we might fail at but we do anyway, this is what makes us grow. So climb your mountains, run your marathons, travel to those places you’re scared to but know you have to, and ignore the people who tell you it’s not safe. Just think, would you regret it more if you did, or if you didn’t?

Tears And Laughter

April 24, 2006

We've just finished YF Camp. It was an amazing experience for me, and the biggest camp since I'm not sure when.I wasn't aware of the camp having a predefined theme. I think there was one but it was never mentioned explicitly. A theme did though emerge for me during the time I was there. It was "tears and laughter" It comes from a song that Leith sang on stage at the World gathering of young Friends in England last year. It goes:

Kind Friends all gather round, there's something I would say,
What brings us here together, has blessed us all today,
Love can make a circle, that holds us all inside,
Where strangers are as family, and loneliness can’t hide,
So give yourself to love, if love is what you’re after,
Open up your heart to the tears and laughter,
and give yourself to love, give yourself to love”

On Sunday during the camp we went to Meeting in Palmerston North. YFs swelled the normal attendance by about 300%. Early in Meeting Freda, a Palmerston North Friend read from Advices & Queries.

It was a passage on accepting other cultures. It got me thinking about the risks we take by inviting people into our county, our towns, our homes and our hearts. People we invite in might be noisy or hurt us or change our way of life for the worse. Or they might inspire us, show us new wonders, take us to new heights. It seems to me that we have to take the risk of being hurt in order to grow. It may even be that we have to be hurt sometimes in order to truly grow, we have to have our souls carved out by pain to expand the space we have for love. We have to accept the tears to get the laughter.

The camp felt like this for me. There were lots of risks taken and much at stake. it was the first time that I've felt the full age range truly come together as a group. There was a big risk this wasn't going to happen, and many of us older YFs had taken a risk coming, a risk that we would feel out of place, that our presence wouldn't be accepted.

There were many emotional risks taken by all as relationships developed. These were not without tears as boundaries were negotiated and love of all kinds was offered and accepted or not as the case maybe.

Opening my heart and my life to this group was a huge risk. It is one of the best things I have ever done. The tears, laughter and joy I have experienced have enriched my life, and given me a strong sense of place and purpose in the world, and within the wider community of Friends. So go on, give yourself to love.