Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Friend School of Atlanta Circles of Friends

Beloved community is a phrase used by Martin Luther King Jr. of Atlanta, GA, who fifty years ago was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the American Friends Service Committee.  Fifty years ahead the Friends School of Atlanta where I work is still using the phrase, as do many Friends institutions and communities to describe who we are.

Beloved community means deep connection between people.  At the Friends School of Atlanta it means deep connection between people of all ages.  Friends (Quakers) paraphrase the experiences as listening one another into becoming more fully who we are.  Our school names it building community by allowing each person to fully develop their uniqueness and be being honored for who they are, where they are, and for the gifts they bring to the community.

My project will be to encourage the flow of beloved community between the Friends School of Atlanta and the Atlanta Friends Meeting.  The school grew out of the leading of Friends at the meeting, and so there have always been people who are connected to both communities and intensely invested in the life of both places. The school is not under the care of the meeting, and thus the business of the school and of the meeting do not over lap, except for the people who happen to be involved in both.  As our website states, "The Friends School of Atlanta, which was incorporated as a nonprofit institution in 1990, grew out of the work of a committee of the Meeting." ( http://www.friendsschoolatlanta.org/about_us/ourcampus.aspx)


When I began at the Friends School of Atlanta in 2009, I felt very called to be part of helping the life of the school live more deeply into the power of the Quaker way...to the potential of what Friends traditions can bring to the lives of our youngest.  I hope for people of all ages connected with our school to grow by centering in what the Friends' path has to offer.

While my roles here include many hats, I've been working toward becoming more of a "Quaker Consultant/Chaplain" for our school.   I have been taking on a new project each year. The first year a garden was designed and implemented by the children as a physical way to teach the power of coming to unity and consensus.  The second year a Quaker Education library was founded by grant monies I collected.  This year I'm getting my feet wet by leaping into two communities, inviting the waters to flow between!  We will create beloved community as people from the Atlanta Friends Meeting come to the Friends School of Atlanta as special guest speakers and teachers.  These guests will let their lives speak by offering their voices of experience, and by helping build lessons/resources that can be used by both communities.

The meeting will offer me grounding with committee of Friends, including the Religious Education committee.

But wait!!!  Why have the other Pickett leaders begun their projects way earlier?  What's the "God's Time" delay you might say?  Well...there was another plan to prepare me for this project in the timing that needed to be and I have been very well used in the last...9 months plus.   When I filled out the application I was pregnant...with triplets!  I disclosed that while applying I couldn't begin until 2015 when my babies would be then 6 months old.

What is the link between my beloved community Pickett project and bearing witness to three new babies of mine?   In the process of preparing for, and birthing, and now being on this big journey with our new little ones, the Friends School and the Friends Meeting have had my and my family's backs in incredible ways.  The same people who I once imagined inviting to come to the school and hoped to would offer their Light have come over for countless hours of care for my family.  Having the huge leap of faith it takes to become an "instant family" is very parallel to what it takes to ask people who don't know each other to jump on into becoming beloved community with one another.

I know that when Friends from meeting, to offer their little pieces of understanding, experience and measures of Light with the children here, as they have done for my children, that they will find themselves being pulled deeply into beloved community with the children who walk the halls of our school.    

Friends School kindergartners learn about meeting.


Friends School of Atlanta parent, FSA Quaker Life Committee member and meeting member worships at the Atlanta Friends Meeting (pictured in black).

For isn't it the Truth, that part of what the Quaker way has to offer is the incredible experience of discovery that when one opens one's self to deeply being in beloved community with others, to listening intently to the Light and the uniqueness of a person of any age, we find ourselves exclaiming, "Oh what a wonder! Getting to know this person in this community and glimpsing their inner being...I feel like I am understanding what it means to be in beloved community...I'm feeling what that kingdom of peace is like in the here and the now!"

At least Friends, that is what I imagine possible...

To be continued in Spring and Fall 2015

Images from the Friends School of Atlanta and Atlanta Friends Meeting websites.

2 comments:

  1. Dear Laura,

    What a wonderful introduction to Friends School and Meeting in Atlanta, and to your project. I cannot imagine doing all you are doing while also caring for triplets! Your ability to balance and connect all aspects of your journey and community is inspiring. Good luck, we are happy to support you!
    in peace,
    Bridget

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