Friday, September 29, 2006

Building and Sustaining Community

September 15-17, 2006 - Cape Cod Retreat for Friends of Color

Lynda Black, a member of my meeting, Central Philadelphia and I drove up to Falmouth, MA to participate in a weekend retreat for Friends of Color. West Falmouth Preparative Meeting has a house behind their meetinghouse. They agreed to host us for the weekend. They did a wonderful job. We had a great time. The weather turned out to be beautiful. However, it did not start out that way.

When Lynda and I left Philadelphia the sun had just come out. As we drove into New Jersey and got onto the turnpike we drove into the rain which had just ended in Philadelphia. It rained the entire drive up to Cape Cod. At times the conditions were absolutely terrible. We passed several accidents on the road and were thankful that we were not involved in any of them. The rain was not constant, it was off and on, sometimes misting, sometimes torrential. Many people were not driving cautiously. After driving for 8 hours we finally arrived at Falmouth Quaker House.

We were warmly greeted. Several Friends also were delayed because of the rain, so it was decided to wait until Saturday to hold any sessions. The four Friends who were there had spent the time socializing until we arrived. Lynda and I joined them as we ate, then we unpacked the car and made our beds so we could get a good nights sleep.

The next morning the rain had stopped and it was bright and sunny. We were joined by a Friend from Maine. After breakfast we had our first session. Ernie Buscemi facilitated a discussion on Community. We shared our experiences of being a Friend of Color. Some of us were the only Friend of Color in our meeting while others had several other Friends of Color. During this discussion two more Friends joined us, one from Connecticut and another from Massachusetts. It was a very nurturing and important session.

Our group piled into three cars into Woods Hole, MA for lunch. We ate at a restaurant called the Fishmonger (shown to your left.) It was a cute restaurant in a quaint town. While we were waiting for them to put some tables together for our group, the draw bridge opened. The draw bridge is in the middle of town. Traffic was stopped and we got a chance to see one boat drive into the harbor and a sail boat go out. By the time all of that excitement was over our table was ready. We were half way through our meal when another Friend from Maine joined us.

We returned to Quaker House to continue our talk about community. However, before we began we posed for a group picture. Two of the Friends who joined us for the retreat are not in this picture. We came from six different states; Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

In our afternoon session we continued our talk on Community and also talked about our next Gathering. We spent a significant amount of time hearing and talking about East Sandwich Preparative Meeting and Sharon's struggle with them. We focused our conversation on nurturing and supporting her. Then we turned our attention on our next gathering. We decided to meet in Philadelphia in the spring. It was time to break for dinner.

Our dinner was prepared by a fantastic cook, Vernon (Buddy) Pocknett. He served us a traditional Mashpee Wampanoag meal. We had a fantastic meal of stuffed quahog, freshly caught and baked fish, baked potatoes, acorn squash and string beans. Buddy, his wife, Renee Lopes-Pocknett, and son, Aquinnah Lopes-Pocknett, joined us for dinner. We had a very special dessert after dinner. Four of the people in our group had birthdays in September, so I birthday cake was brought out and we all sang happy birthday. It was a beautiful chocolate mouse cake. I am allergic to wheat, so I couldn't eat it, but everyone said it tasted delicious. We spent the rest of the evening talking, listening to music and having fun. Some members of our group stayed up very late enjoying each others company.

The next morning we cleaned up the house, packed up the left over food and headed for East Sandwich Preparative Meeting. Members on East Sandwich had prepared a welcome breakfast for us. Unfortunately, our caravan got lost on our way to the meetinghouse and we arrived late for breakfast, but in time for worship. It was a very gathered and powerful worship. Sandwich is a divided meetinghouse. Worship was held on the left side of the meetinghouse. It was nice to see some familiar faces in the meetinghouse. Anne Nash and K Brown were among the Friends who worshipped at East Sandwich that day. Paul and Mary Mangelsdorf were also there. The Friends who were there were very nice. They had organized a potluck lunch which included the food they had brought for the breakfast we missed. I had a chance to talk with a few Friends. I signed their guest book and sat down to eat my yogurt when it was time to leave. Lynda and I said our goodbyes. As we were leaving we found out that the Friends who were upset with Sharon, her mother and Friend Rachel had not come to worship with us that morning. I was sad to hear that they decided not to worship with us. I am not sure what they were afraid we would do during our visit. I am also sad that they missed such a wonderful worship.

Lynda and I had a nice drive home. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon. We followed Ernie Busecemi's car to right outside of New York City. We said our final goodbye when we stopped at a rest stop. They headed for the city and we went to New Jersey.

It was my first trip to Cape Cod. I am glad that I went. It was nurturing to spend the weekend with Friends of Color. We were able to cry and play with each other. Share our stories and find out that we were not as alone as some of us felt. One Friend had stopped attending worship and decided to return because of our time together. We have promised to stay in touch with one another. I created a yahoo group for us to be able to do that. However, sharing messages, pictures and calendars over the internet is not the same as face-to-face time together. I am really looking forward to our spring gathering!!

1 comment:

Marshall Massey (Iowa YM [C]) said...

What a wonderful account! Thank you for sharing it -- it really filled my heart this morning.