Sunday, June 10, 2012

home group

I've (finally) started to make progress uploading my photos from the World Conference to Flickr. Some of the photos were taken during the home group facilitator training, that combined with thinking again (in the light of new contributions to the emailed reflections on Pardshaw) about tūrangawaewae, got me thinking again.

I really enjoyed my home group at the World Conference - we were a large group including Friends from Britain, Ireland, USA, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Myanmar/Burma, India and of course myself from Aotearoa NZ. I don't know about any of the others but I didn't really socialise with any of my home group outwith our sessions, yet this didn't lessen the sense of having a solid  base to go to most days for sharing our reflections on the conference, personal journeys in life and deepening our understanding of each other as individuals, representatives of different cultures, theologies and backgrounds.

Thinking about Pardshaw I know that there are many who I only ever see when I am there. Once we'd ceased to be YFs and prior to facebook coming along contact in between was sporadic and usually centred around organisation of the next get-together with the exception of a few of us hijacking the Pardshaw email list to share Christmas newsletters! But again there is that same sense of there being a solid base to return to (albeit with a longer gap between times and for more than the hour and a half or so we had each day in home groups!) where contact inbetween times isn't really necessary for the experience to be a place for deep sharing.

On the first day of our home group it became apparent towards the end of an introductory go-round that one of the late arrivals had very little English, only speaking Swahili and French comfortably. Thankfully one of the Kenyans stepped up to interpret for him for the remainder of the session. At the end my co-facilitator asked him if he would prefer to move to a French speaking home group but no, he was quite clear, he had been made to feel welcome and wanted to stay with us.

As the week went on a couple of the Kenyan Friends worked out between them a way of interpreting that required less consecutive interpretation using written notes as people spoke, and our Friend from Burundi got more comfortable using a little English with us (two of us had some school French but it became quickly apparent that he understood our English far better!).

On that first day one Friend seemed quite agitated about his inclusion in our group and thought he should be taken to the French group there and then. Whilst I'm sure she had his best interests at heart I am so glad my co-facilitator and I decided instead to continue on that day and let him make the decision to stay or not himself at the end. We were all very much the richer for having him with us and the interpretation time was valuable not only a timely reminder to those of us who have English as a first language to taihoa (hold back/wait) and not rush but it gave us added reflection time on what had been said.

It was a bit like heading over the Fell Road (Pardshaw to the Kirkstyle Inn at Loweswater) at the speed of the slowest 'wimps' walker  - it gives time to admire the scenery/light/flora and fauna etc in a different way than the head down ascent of the 'M word' (aka Melbreak) or other 'keenies walk' does when staying there (thank heavens I've seldom been fit enough for a keenies...). Having a small child or someone with health issues etc is never seen as a 'problem' at Pardshaw - time is made for them, to work around their needs. It enriches the community and possibilities, it doesn't take anything away from it. We're only human and therefore failable so the odd comment about loud snorers etc does get made, but you learn to take earplugs (or sleep in the drying room) if it bothers you that much! Those new to the gatherings may be a bit uncertain at first but if they are willing to trust and take part then they go away enriched and feeling a sense of belonging. As with home groups, you get out what you put in.

Our home group included people from many walks of life, thrown together for the conference. I many never see any of them again but I was so glad to know that they were there to go 'home' to each day. Spending that bit longer in each others company meant we got to know each other in a different way than many others I met often briefly, we shared more of our life stories, our hopes and fears, that which is mundane as well as eternal. All that was missing was a wall to sit on with a cracking view!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is a lovely post