AdventWords 2022: Mountains

Mountains

Respect the wide diversity among us in our lives and relationships. Refrain from making prejudiced judgments about the life journeys of others. Do you foster the spirit of mutual understanding and forgiveness which our discipleship asks of us? Remember that each one of us is unique, precious, a child of God.

QF&P: 1.02.22
Mountains
Tim Gouw

Mountains are landmarks, a source of challenge and dramatic views. A tranquil sign of major turmoil deep under the surface. A seemingly eternal mass which in truth is always changing, simply on a timescale far removed from what we consider normal life.

This is also true of metaphorical mountains.

I am an autistic psychopath, my brain is wired differently from most people. This is because systems, which are built to be easy for others are full of obstacles for me. It’s like a road was built to make it easier to get around, but it has been built across where I need to go. Some people have a nice flat path to walk, I have to clamber up a steep embankment and back down the other side.

I struggle to scale metaphorical mountains and helplessly wonder why it took me so much effort. ‘Simple tasks’, have often led to autistic burnout. Put simply, the stress from desperately trying to keep up with people who didn’t have to scramble up and down mountains fried parts of my brain.

So now there are even more mountains than before, and the ones which were always there have gotten taller and craggier. Which can easily lead to a vicious cycle.

How to break it? We build more roads.

Recognising that people have different paths to walk, and respecting and supporting each path, means that nobody has to face mountains. And while we are building these new roads, we can be understanding of those who currently have to scale a cliff! 

I hope that one-day metaphorical mountains will be something we tackle voluntarily. Not a commuter hazard that we are forced to dash ourselves against each day.  

For now, I accept that there are a lot of slopes and potholes in my life. At MBS I am fortunate to be working with a team which understands this. They offer support and make adjustments as needed. They are flexible with hours and deadlines. Though these don’t shrink the mountains, they give me tools to make the climb easier – or even manageable.

One step at a time, friends. Just take it one step at a time. Reach out for help when you need it, and build roads where you can.

Lee Heywood

Lee Heywood

MBS Admin Team

Below is a list of organisations that can support you with more information surrounding mental health:

https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/mental-health-services/

https://www.mind.org.uk/

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/get-help

https://www.youngminds.org.uk/

https://giveusashout.org/

https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/

AdventWords 2022: Teach

Teach
Teach
Photo: Tim Mossholder

Quakers believe that we are all equal before G-D, and that the spirit of G-D is at work within each of, making us both teachers and students throughout our lives. 

How does this work practically? 

Well, as a facilitator or a teacher you aren’t just providing or pouring in information, but instead inspiring the student to work with their own gifts and talents. You are respecting them where they are and allowing them to develop and improve their knowledge. You may have to put your own opinions aside and allow individuals or groups to ‘live experimentally’. 

This foundation doesn’t work well with the more formal educational systems that have learning deadlines, timetables, assessments and inspections. When I ‘taught’ at Woodbrooke the language used was very carefully facilitator rather than a teacher. 

Focusing on nurturing individual needs and growth, I took my ‘Life Artistry’ course online to enable those who couldn’t travel to Woodbrooke to be included. When I was home educating both offspring we worked on the inspiration and strewing methods. We shared our passions, and our work and then strewed things we thought might be interesting around our home.

I work the same way now with my mentoring and training clients – meeting them where they are, sharing my passions, my ways of working and then offering a wide range of resources so they’re able to explore, experience and develop their own gifts and talents.

Finally...

This desire to share my passions, experiences and ways of working is why:

 I started the MBS blog.

Through MBS we provide free resources, and technical advice and seek to serve others.

 I still love to teach and learn.

Wendrie Heywood

Wendrie Heywood

Founder

AdventWord 2022: Together

Together

As a meeting ‘gathers’, as each individual ‘centers down’, there gradually develops a feeling of belonging to a group who are together seeking a sense of the Presence. The ‘I’ in us begins to feel like ‘we’. At some point – it may be early in the meeting or it may be later, or it may never occur at all – we suddenly feel a sense of unity, a sense of togetherness with one another and with that something outside ourselves that we call God.

Thomas R Bodine, 1980
Together
Photo: Nick Fewings

Today’s AdventWord has been a common theme in 2022. The ‘Being Friends Together Project by Woodbrooke Quaker Study, gives guidance on growing together, tradition, bringing in the world and deepening the life of the spirit together. Then to the All-together Worship, a truly monumental meeting for worship that took place at the yearly meeting. 

In recent years, many feel alone and isolated as a result of the pandemic. Having gone through that has meant the development of resources, including blended meetings, has allowed more access to all and increased the feeling of togetherness. They hope this stays and develops into a stronger community.

For me, the feeling of togetherness has been prominent as I started working with MBS and being part of the team and coming on board with many of the clients. It has been a real blessing this year and I am eager to see what 2023 brings.

#MindfullBusinessServices #AdventWords2022 #Together #advent 

Emma Milton

Emma Milton

MBS Finance & Admin Team

AdventWord 2022: Walk

Man Walking
Man Walking

As a Quaker I’m very comfortable with sitting in silence. But there are times when I need to move - when I’m too restless, or it’s not physically comfortable, or I just need to be doing something other than sitting at my desk working.

Walking meditatively has been a boon, it became popular during COVID as people needed an excuse to get out of the house. It’s different walking to get somewhere, or power walking for exercise. 


Instead - walking meditatively involves very deliberating thinking about what you would normally do automatically. Thinking about the lifting of the foot, the shifting of balance, movement of your body as you move weight and then the other leg.


It helps me block out any worries or unfinished tasks, and instead focus on something ‘other’. I like to listen to instrumental music so there aren’t words if I’m in a busy place, or if it’s quiet, then I’ll listen to the world around me and be grateful for everything I hear.


I find that prayer springs forth as I walk, not necessarily with words but that wordless groaning that is still understood as we walk with G-D.

Photo by Il vano on Unsplash

The Lord has told you, human [ O man], what is good; he has told you what he wants [the Lord requires] from you: to do what is right to other people [just], love being kind to others [mercy; lovingkindness], and live humbly, obeying [walk humbly with] your God.

Micah 6:8 Expanded Bible
Worship script
Michaela Murphy - Unsplash
Wendrie Heywood

Wendrie Heywood

Founder

AdventWord 2022: Introduction

AdventWord 2022

 

Tomorrow marks the start of advent and 2022’s AdventWord calendar. Here at #MindfulBusinessServices (MBS) we are inviting you to join us as we contribute to a global community advent calendar. 

Forward Movement has announced the list of 2022 AdventWords. Single-word prompts were selected by a group of community volunteers from the Sunday Lectionary readings. Each day on our social media & blog we will post the AdventWord of the day and pause to reflect on this word from an MBS perspective. The whole MBS team has contributed to the series. 

We would love for you to join us! 

Why not leave a comment or post your thoughts on the word of the day to inspire others? #AdventWord2022

Gemma White

Gemma White

Personal Assistant at MBS

#AdventWord 2019: 21 Rest

2011 06 11 Genevieve sleeping at Sci Fi Exhibition

Every stage of our lives offers fresh opportunities. Responding to divine guidance, try to discern the right time to undertake or relinquish responsibilities without undue pride or guilt. Attend to what love requires of you, which may not be great busyness.

Qf&p Advices & Queries 28

Like many people, today’s #AdventWord feels appropriate. I finished client work yesterday and am now in full swing Christmas preparation. Today has been full of shopping, list-making and completing to-dos, and looking at the number of people in the various shops and places it’s a popular choice for this weekend.

But it’s important to ensure that rest happens too. With that in mind, I’ve ensured that there are empty days booked in over the next couple of weeks. Everyone needs to discover what is restful for them and accept that others may not share in that past time.

As we go into the new year I’m looking forward to taking up some responsibilities and relinquishing others. Guaranteeing that there is space in my life to listening for that divine guidance and being ready to respond.

#AdventWord 2019: 20 Go

Photo by GotCredit used with permission

‘Go’ today’s #AdventWord is one that shows action – and often is used as a one-word demand or instruction.

Getting out and talking to others in your neighbourhood or surrounding areas can be daunting but finding a way to interact with others can lead to new and often unexpected partnerships.

Barbara Hayes of Chichester Quaker meeting writes on the Quaker.org.uk blog about ‘Teaching business students about Quaker ethics‘. A programme of work which grew out of the New Economy leaflets and discussions at her local meeting.

The Quiet Company (a new name for Friends House Hospitality) reached out and partnered with London Pathways to use the restaurant kitchen to help ex-offenders learn baking and life skills in a project called Bake the Difference.

Meetings of all sizes across the country are working to support refugees and those who are struggling in today’s austerity climate. Working in partnership with others can bring in new skills, enthusiasm and connections to help the network grow. From running a special collection; offering the meeting house as a venue; hosting a public meeting; there are so many ways that each community can find to go out into their local areas and forge new connections.

  • Where would you like your meeting to ‘go’?

#AdventWord 2019: 19 Bless

2019-10-06 14.09.10

By occupation he was a barber, and on moving into this district in 1937 from Swindon, he first took a shop in Wallington, and later one in a poor part of Croydon. Not all who went there did so for a shave or a haircut, but to enjoy its friendly atmosphere, and to talk to Percy. ‘I am sure,’ said a friend of his, ‘that as Percy rubbed oil into a customer’s hair, he blessed him.’ This would have been natural, since he desired all his actions to be sacramental.

part of Qf&P 23.59

Looking at your place of work – whether it is an office or a building that is open to the general public – how can you use the building to offer a blessing to those who come to it and help them to find what they seek?

Make the building and surrounds welcoming to people as they enter, giving them a clean and attractive space to work or to hire. Decide on a level of maintenance that is sustainable and affordable. Ask for feedback from hirers and users about the building. Ask yourself does it feel peaceful? Meeting Houses I’ve visited are often referred to as an oasis amid busy surroundings.

Have you ensured the building is as accessible as reasonably possible? Are your policies and procedures simple and transparent, so that you can be certain that everyone is treated equally?

When things go wrong and those policies and procedures have failed or need adjusting, do you have ways of dealing with the fall out in an equitable and calm fashion? Like all policies and procedures, a grievance policy is much better created when things are going well than from the middle of chaos.

These may seem like odd blessings – but the future managers, trustees, employees, and volunteers will thankful for those steps taken to make life easier in their now. Being able to work through problems, feeling supported and without the ‘blame culture’ so often found in other organisations is indeed a blessing.

Guaranteeing a fair and unbiased mediation where needed, to help restore and reconcile relationships, supporting firm boundaries where necessary are all part of making the building a healthy place to work. Finding ways to live out your values and demonstrate them to those you interact with can be tricky but is an important part of living a sacramental life, blessing those around you.

#AdventWord 2019: 18 Worship

2011 08 07 worshipping group & cathedral 2

Worship is a fundamental part of religious life.

As a Quaker I appreciate the belief that everything is equally sacred. Therefore any Quaker business meeting uses the ‘Quaker Business Method’ and a (local, area or yearly) meeting’s business meeting is formally called, a ‘Meeting for Worship for Business’, we also have ‘Meeting for Worship for Marriage’.

The names and belief are a reminder to hold that stillness and connection we find in worship as we go about our daily lives. That’s hard – and I fail regularly but it is a great thing to attempt.

Yearly Meeting is the annual gathering of Quakers from across Britain, with visitors from further afield. The entire period – from the opening on the first night to the closing moments is considered to be one Meeting for Business. It is an amazing experience to worship and do business in a worshipful manner seeking the will of God in a room full of several hundred other Quakers. One I’m always grateful for!

#AdventWord 2019: 17 Pray

Quaker Faith & Practice with stones
Quaker Faith & Practice with stones

Prayer is an exercise of the spirit, as thought is of the mind. To pray about anything is to use the powers of our spirit on it, just as to think clearly is to use our mental powers. For the best solution of every problem, the best carrying out of every action, both thought and prayer are necessary… To pray about any day’s work does not mean to ask success in it. It means, first to realise my own inability to do even a familiar job, as it truly should be done, unless I am in touch with eternity, unless I do it ‘unto God’, unless I have the Father with me. It means to see ‘my’ work as part of a whole, to see ‘myself’ as not mattering much, but my faith, the energy, will and striving, which I put into the work, as mattering a great deal. My faith is the point in me at which God comes into my work; through faith the work is given dignity and value. And if, through some weakness of mine, or fault of others, or just ‘unavoidable circumstances’, the work seems a failure, yet prayer is not wasted when it is unanswered, any more than love is wasted when it is unreturned.

Mary F Smith, 1936 Qf&p 20.07

Prayer is often a tricky topic for Quakers. Instead, we talk about ‘holding in the light’ and of finding ‘way forward’. Yet one of the things that makes a Quaker business meeting so very different from a secular business meeting is that it is grounded in prayer. The Quaker Business Method involves coming with heart and mind prepared, listening not only to those speaking, but to those holding the silence and trying to touch the divine, plus being willing to seek the best way forward without holding their own agenda.

Being an active part of this Quaker Business Method is the responsibility of all members, not just the clerk or elders. Accepting whatever you are called to today, that it might be different than on another day – whether it is holding the silence, listening for those prompts of love and truth, speaking only when you are responding to a leading, and listening for the meaning within unclear or hurtful words are all part of a spiritual discipline. These habits also work well in a work situation, especially when dealing with the general public I’ve found over the year.

Starting the workday, or a work task, by pausing and mentally transitioning from the previous activities is useful. Taking that moment to ask God to help you do this work with love, to see that of God in those you are interacting with and to live out those testimonies that you hold dear as you go through the work.

Through doing this I’ve found that even day-to-day tasks take on aspects of vocation rather than drudgery. It also helps me to maintain good boundaries, accepting that there is a time to stop and let someone else have a turn. Rather than feeling, I need to do everything. After all – I’ve already accepted I can’t do it all by asking for that help.

#AdventWord 2019: 16 Learn

Colourful pencilsharpenings and post-its
Colourful pencilsharpenings and post-its

Much of the work of meetings for church affairs and committees will be undertaken by Friends especially appointed by the meeting or committee responsible for the work, most often on the recommendation of a nominations committee. The process of appointment starts when the meeting identifies the need for a task to be performed. It is good practice for a meeting to have a clear view of the tasks that need to be accomplished on its behalf and to fix the length of service required so that both the meeting and the Friend appointed understand the commitment.

Many of our gifts are latent. A particular appointment may enable one Friend to exercise unsuspected abilities. Other Friends may find themselves overburdened by being appointed to service beyond their capacity and experience. It requires great discernment to know the right moment to ask a particular Friend to undertake or lay down a particular task.

<snip>

Quaker Faith & Practice 3.23 paragraphs 1 & 2

Today’s #AdventWord Learn made me muse about where and how I’ve collected the knowledge I have over the last twenty odd years of being involved with running meetings and meeting houses.

Ensuring that all those working within a meeting or other charity, either volunteers or employed have a chance to learn and grow in their roles is important. It also enriches the entire community and gives a chance for those latent gifts to be discovered and developed.

Clear understanding of the work that needs to be done, well written and comprehensive role or job descriptions are invaluable and the promise that support and further training is available ensures that people can offer service without concern.

Woodbrooke offers training for many Quaker roles, as well as spiritual development. Other professional training may be helpful or necessary. A wider pool of people can be found by looking locally for others groups to combine with.

In addition to more formal or required training, the opportunity to get together with others in similar roles is helpful. I’ve written about this in more detail in this post: K is for Knowledge & Knowhow. The importance of ensuring that people are supported while doing roles/jobs is written about here: Z is for Zen. Finally – the one bit of training that all meeting houses need to look into is around catering and kitchens, Quaker meetings are considered food businesses – I’ve written more about it here: K is for Kitchens.

#AdventWord 2019: 15 Turn

a photo of a tube labyrinth

a photo of a tube labyrinth
Part of a series of art throughout London Underground

Every stage of our lives offers fresh opportunities. Responding to divine guidance, try to discern the right time to undertake or relinquish responsibilities without undue pride or guilt. Attend to what love requires of you, which may not be great busyness.

Advices & Queries 28

Turn – to change direction, or to hand over power or responsibility. Of course you can combine the two, deciding you need to change direction and to do so you need to hand over responsibilities or power. Alternatively you can discover that you now have new responsibilities and have to change direction to suit. I’m often called in when a charity has run into a problem and needs someone to untangle the systems or paperwork ready to hand on to the next volunteer.

Handing on of power regularly is of course the reason for the triennial appointment system, knowing that you are the clerk/treasurer/elder/overseer now but in a few years you’ll be something else. It also means that those coming into the system can see the testimony to equality being lived out, or where there are difficulties in handing on power – either because someone doesn’t want to relinquish or accept what is offered.

  • How do you ensure that all of your systems and procedures support the smooth handing on of power and responsibilities?

#AdventWord 2019: 14 Gather

P7260016

“None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.” – Mother Teresa

Gather is today’s #AdventWord – my first thought was of gathering in resources including money. I joke that my hobby is getting non-Quaker money into Quaker pockets – pointing out that there are more non-Quakers than Quakers by far. This makes some people uncomfortable, yet the work that it is supporting is Quaker work – if we are offering a fair service in exchange there isn’t a problem, and in my experience people are glad to use Quaker buildings knowing our reputation.

Recently I wrote an end-of-year feedback questionnaire for a client and included in the list of various ‘reasons you like using our building’ the answer, ‘knowing it supports Quaker work’. There was a clear majority of responses who chose this as an option.

On another occasion I had an enquiry from someone who wanted to hire a room in a local meeting house because they’d attended a conference at Friends House Euston and been so impressed with the various posters explaining Quaker values and work. They wanted to use their local meeting house to support that work as well.

Over the last thirty years I have an innumerable conversations with people using a Quaker building and expressing admiration for our fairness, transparency and willingness to share our buildings. I’ve also had some that feel that our testimony to equality shouldn’t include people they don’t like, or should include special treatment for them. All of which have given me the chance to consider and practice my own testimonies, while gathering in resources to support central or local Quaker work.

#AdventWord 2019: 13 Water

2014 09 25 waterfall

Today’s #AdventWord water has such symbolism and power. Over 70% of earth’s surface is covered in water, and all living organisms need water to live.

Water can be seen both positively or negatively: washing clean or depositing detritus as it slows; creating landscapes or weathering/destroying as it moves; supporting you as you float or dragging you down in a fast moving current. Whilst I usually love fountains, I was less pleased to see fountaining toilets in the basement of Muswell Hill after a heavy rain.

Buildings and their surrounding landscape can help reduce their water usage through, either by retrofitting aerators to taps, installing water butts outside etc. or during design and building/remodeling.

Careful paving choices, considering the surrounding area along with the creations of ponds or dry gardens depending on the environment also help.

Opened in 2014 Kingston Quaker Centre was built with sustainability in mind. It harvests rainwater from the roof – where water is directed to harvesting tanks which feed some of the toilet cisterns and is used in the garden, as well as dropping directly into planted areas. There is a monitor in the Library which shows statistics for energy usage and water saved by rainwater harvesting as well as the current status of the heating, cooling and ventilation systems.

Muswell Hill linked not only waterbutts to downpipes but also diverted one into a pond to ensure it remained topped up.

Taking care of water usage is just one part of the overall sustainability plan, but it is an important part. What are you doing in your local community to help take care of your water?