Friday, November 17, 2006

Pendle Hill


I've been away for a couple of days. As you may recall, I work as the Assistant to the Head of a Quaker School Near Philadelphia. We fall under the umbrella of the Friends Council on Education, and one of the things that the FCE does is try to organize peer networking groups. Last summer came a call for a possible new group: Heads' Assistants. Interest was shown and two Assistants offered to coordinate the first event. I left home yesterday morning and returned this afternoon. Pendle Hill is only about a 40 minute drive from my part of Near Philadelphia, and this was where I spent a period of about twenty-four hours. The photograph to the left shows Brinton House, the building where we slept, ate, and held our meetings.
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Pendle Hill was founded as a Quaker Center for arts, education, and spiritual growth. http://www.pendlehill.org/ One needn't be a Quaker to spend time there. They have conferences of varying lengths on various subjects. Ten years ago I spent three days there attending a biomedical ethics workshop that focused on spirituality and elderly people. It was a very powerful event for me.
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So I was pleased when Kathy and Linda decided that our first peer network event would be at Pendle Hill. There are 81 schools under the FCE umbrella; 20 or so are stand-alone preschools and of the remaining 60, there were about 15 Assistants present. We were SO glad to see each other! We got acquainted very quickly, and were delighted to have 14 other people within arm's reach who understood the joys -- and frustrations -- of our day-to-day existence. Shira, the Assistant from a school in New York, is also a licensed massage therapist and she gave complimentary chair massages to anyone who was interested. I was interested.
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We gathered in three separate sessions, we had a speaker, we networked, we shared questions and ideas. We attended Meeting for Worship on the grounds with all of the other Pendle Hill residents, sojourners, and participants. We ate healthy, organic, and mostly vegetarian food. We laughed, we interrupted, we brainstormed. We experienced Silence in the Quaker way (but not a whole lot of it!). A high point for everyone was finally getting to meet April, of the soft voice on the other end of the phone, who has rescued each and every one of us when we have had to call the FCE with some problem or another. I came home with many ideas, and some answers as well. I also came home without that tension in my shoulders, thanks to Shira of the magic fingers.
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We meet again in December of 2007, this time down at the Friends Center in center city Philadelphia. Each of us is going to personally call the Assistant at another school in the network and personally invite her to attend and badger her until she agrees.
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I came home rested and energized and spiritually renewed, also knowing I now have fourteen new wonderful resources to call on in my often rather isolated job. What a gift these two days have been!

1 comment:

Susan said...

I'm glad you are feeling spiritually energized - you'll need it all for the weeks ahead! Just being near that tree would do it for me - it's so beautiful. Reminds us that God truly loves us to give us such beauty.