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Showing posts from 2015


Members of Midcoast Friends Meeting urge Americans to welcome Syrian refugees into our country, communities, and homes.

We have been impressed by the caring, humanitarian response, and courage of countries willing to take in nearly 1,000,000 refugees this year. One quarter of these refugees fled the misery of camps in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey where 4,000,000 still languish.

We need to respond with the same care, courage, and commitment.

Two months ago Americans were shocked by the photo of a drowned two-year-old boy on a beach in Turkey. Today compassion has given way to sweeping fears that terrorists will be embedded among refugees coming to the U.S.  Remember that apart from one terrorist in the Paris attacks those killers were French and Belgian citizens.  Their terrorism was born in depressed and disaffected urban communities in Paris and Brussels and fueled by ethnic and sectarian inequities.

We know that fear will lead to serious moral and political failures and dangerous mis…

Fall Activities

October was a busy month. Here's some of what we've been up to:

Sharing, Worship, and a Query

In the late 1950s, Rachel DuBois began leading “Quaker Dialogues” to deepen communication among members of over 300 meetings in Friends General Conference. In the decades that followed what she began was continued, borrowed from, and modified.  It seems likely that her group dialogues were the precursor to many “creative listening” and “worship sharing” practices of today.[i]
“Worship sharing” is still evolving among Quakers. Various groups have developed guidelines and resources.[ii] Culling through several resources I find these common characteristics:   ·a small group·holding a topic or query·using some structure to create a safe space for listeners and speakers·Silent Worship·not a conversation (but it can lead to deepened understanding among those in the group) 
We plan to hold worship sharing sessions periodically.  One Friend, in particular, wants to connect with others over her concerns around today’s challenges to peace.  I’ve been thinking about what the specific query might be…

Faith and Kite Flying in September

Our next potluck and family program falls on September 6th.  We’ll be exploring the Asian double-ninth festival which is celebrated that week on the ninth day of the month. It is a kite festival celebrated in China with kites that bear wishes and prayers. 
The children will have a guided exploration of an unusually shaped kite or flying device, hear Demi-Demi’s Kites: Magic wishes that fly up into the skyread aloud, soar like kites for a movement break, and then may make whirly birds or pinwheels. During share we’ll ask about how we all know the wind is there even when we can’t see it, connect with the Quaker belief in Inner Light and That of God in everyone, and share that the celebration originated in Asia. 
Come for 10:00 Meeting for Worship.  After a brief time, the children will be invited to come to the social room for our children’s program, and then at 11:00 we will all meet and share what we’ve done.  We follow that with a potluck which we hope you can stay for, too.

A Summer Visitor

Summertime here in Maine ... school's out and homes and camps are full of active kids ; cottages and highways are full (some might say choked) with an influx of summer visitors; seasonal work outdoors on boats, homes, and gardens is underway.

When we heard that Shan Cretin, the Secretary General of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), was in Maine and had a Sunday afternoon available, I was so pleased that we were able to quickly step up and invite her to come talk with us at the Midcoast Outreach and Peace Center!

 Shan is responsible for AFSC’s worldwide peace, social justice and humanitarian assistance programs. Her overview covered the theory and practices behind Quaker programs aimed to build capacity for peace with justice. Specific examples of projects showed increased effective engagement especially among young people, our next generation of activists!

Banning and Clearing Land Mines: Managing a Humanitarian Crisis

The Second Program in the free public dialogue series presented by the Midcoast Outreach and Peace Center (MOPC) as part of its Humanitarian Crises and Challenges series of programs 
The Midcoast Outreach and Peace Center will present the second program in the Public Dialogue Series on Humanitarian Crises and Challenges entitled “Banning and Clearing Land Mines: Managing a Humanitarian Crisis” Prominent humanitarian worker and land mine specialist Bob Eaton will speak about his work with governments and communities striving to clear mines as a critical part of rebuilding war torn communities. Eaton was a founding member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for its role in creating the International Mine Ban Treaty.
He will be accompanied by Martin Barber, a senior United Nations official with extensive experience in humanitarian affairs and peace operations.  Martin directed the United Nations Mine Action Service and was Chief…

Variations Among Buttercups

I went on a "noticing walk" with some children yesterday.  We were noticing the variety of flowers in the meadows and plantings on our grounds.
One child, who likes to count, counted the petals on a buttercup and came up with four.  "Buttercups have four petals." "Really?" "Check another!" "Five!  This one has five!"  Soon, we were wondering if buttercups follow any rules.

For the next few minutes the children were intensely attentive to nature, and their own expectations. Eventually, it was decided that buttercups usually have five petals.  We went back to that four-petaled buttercup and noticed more--something had obviously chewed on it.
The children and I had a chance to practice paying close attention to details, we are now making fewer assumptions, and we're asking new questions. I wonder what we will discover when the peony buds are bigger?

A Series on Humanitarian Crises in Our World Today

Presenting: Daniel Asher Filstein on Southern U.S. Border ImmigrationI'm quite excited about this series!  The Midcoast Outreach and Peace Center is presenting the first program in the Public Dialogue Series—Humanitarian Crises in Our World Today. The programs in the series will be presented by individuals that have been or are involved in helping people in different parts of the world whose lives are endangered by ongoing wars, natural catastrophes, misfortunes and adversities. Daniel Asher Filstein, an apprentice at the Carpenter’s Boat Shop in Pemaquid, Maine, spent several months working with the humanitarian aid group No More Deaths in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. For many Americans, immigration issues continue to elicit polarized and highly inflammatory differences of opinion. Debates rage on the national stage about the treatment of illegal immigrants by the U.S. government when immigrants are fleeing from war torn countries, violent drug trade, political unrest or from regi…

Spiritual Searches, Meditation ... and Doodling

There is an intimate inter-flow between the mind and body.  A scent can elicit a vivid memory. A sound can trigger physical reactions. A certain amount of fidgeting can help a person who needs to move often be able to stay in one place and concentrate. Meditative practices enhance physical well-being.

"Doodling" may sound like an odd spiritual practice because we often doodle when our attention is mostly otherwise occupied, but in fact Lindy Gifford, an interfaith chaplaincy student, has been developing a gentle, spiritual practice around doodling. She's coming to Midcoast Friends Meeting to lead a session with us.

Workshop: Doodling as a Tool to Increase Focus and Self-Awareness
What does doodling have to do with the spiritual search? Anyone can find out Thursday, April 16, 6:30-8:30 pm at Midcoast Meeting of Friends, 77 Belvedere Road, Damariscotta. Lindy Gifford will lead a free workshop in focused doodling, sponsored by the Midcoast Outreach and Peace Center. The wor…

Walking Cheerfully, Mindfully Over the World

mind·ful·ness ˈmīn(d)f(ə)lnəs/ noun 1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. "their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition" 2. a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. Definition courtesy Google search. 
Mindfulness is making lots of news these days, being touted by teachers, healers, and mystics alike. It is a powerful practice and can be quite fun to teach! Mindfulness practice can be used to enhance the core skills essential to learning: observation, awareness, an open attitude, concentration, curiosity. Guided mindfulness meditations can reduce stress and the negative impact of pain. 

Centering is a related, but different skill:

cen·ter·ing ˈsen(t)əriNG/ noun -- medical dictionary

Any method used by a person to calm himself physically, mentally, or emotionally, usually in preparation for …

February and March Children's Programs

Our program on January 4th drew a nice number of children. Getting acquainted and offering a gentle introduction to a few Quaker practices (the first 10-15 minutes of Silent Worship, centering, developing first name relationships with teachers) and principles (equality, community, stewardship) is a delight. As children practice listening for their own inner voices and looking for “that of God in all of us” I believe they grow in self-esteem, mindfulness, empathy and resilience.  The children have done amazingly and are certainly a bright spot in the entire Meeting’s day.

There are wonderful school, camp, and preserve programs for these children already, so in our quick 45 minutes together I want to offer a simple connection to something that is special to our philosophy. We've touched on testimonies of community, equality, and stewardship in the last three programs, so we chose to highlight caring and growing in a diverse set of cultures for our next two sessions.    
Here are t…