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Quakers in Australia

NSW Regional Meeting - Reflections On the Australian Quaker Centre (J Strong addendum)

James Strong: Addendum following special meeting of NSW Regional Meeting on Saturday 29 May 2010

  • The AQC working group will not ask Yearly Meeting to contribute to the purchase of the Silver Wattle property – and the AQC is an independent legal entity. A prospectus will solicit support from individuals (Quaker and otherwise) for the purchase of the property in the latter half of 2010. These facts should obviate the collective anxiety over the costs and presumed risks of the purchase of Silver Wattle. (And how individual Friends spend their money is not our concern.)
     
  • It has been suggested that Silver Wattle will drain limited human resources from local and regional meetings. I cannot endorse that claim, as I have found that my own volunteerism or participation at Silver Wattle has consistently enriched my (considerable) involvement in my local meeting – and this is precisely one of the aims of the Centre.
     
  • "Alternatives" are the business of those who offer them, and not those to whom they are directed. Right ordering requires that we acknowledge this.
     
  • It is a truism that a permanent, deeply-rooted intentional religious community offers experiences, support and opportunities that are fundamentally different than that of mobile, occasional and distributed classes and whatnot. The question is not about the truth or falsity of this distinction – but about whether Friends have sufficient interest in the former to support such a centre. Many Friends do, and many will respond to the request for support. Their choice in no way impedes the pursuit of alternatives.
     
  • The land – unique, inspiring, wounded – at Silver Wattle has been delivered into our hands; it is a rare opportunity. Will we acquire, restore and care for it? I resonate with Rowe Morrow's vision on this point.
     
  • Gardens have been planted, a library is being built, new traditions and relationships fostered, and work abounds as a spiritual community has taken shape on the shores of Lake George through innumerable daily efforts, large and small. The question before us is not only "Will we support Silver Wattle?" it is also: "Will we abandon what has been planted?"
     
  • At this very moment, if I felt the need or was so moved, I could rise from this desk, board a train, and disembark at Bungendore to spend a day – or a week – in silent contemplation and communion with Nature (with a very wide canvas as backdrop), OR work with Friends in the garden or restoring the land or in the upkeep of the property, OR in study, OR in conversation with Friends from far and wide - OR so many things, all the while being uplifted by the Spirit of the place and the presence of Friends and the rhythms of an intentional Quaker space. For $22 a day. No (or very little) planning required. (And this easy opportunity is available for a sizable fraction of the population – but it is well worth it even for those journeying from greater distances.) And all this in addition to the classes and workshops! The simple truth is that my journey as a Quaker has been and continues to be incalculably enriched by the sort of ready, immersive experience that the Centre offers every day without cease.

I need this place.

 

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