My Perfect Labyrinth

Have you ever had a time when you just felt in sync with where and what you should be doing? Last weekend was wonderful that way. Don’t get me wrong, it was also exhausting. But, sometimes, the two things can coexist.

We had a board meeting on Saturday for Quaker House. I had worked hard and had two extra reports that represented significant effort and had, likewise, required quite a bit of attention to detail. I stayed up late the night before to make the house more accommodating to the dog sitter spending some time here and left early in the morning for the two-hour drive. The board meeting went well. I am always amazed by the dedication of our board members.

I got to my hotel room, let my daughter know I was out of the board meeting and to text me when I could come over, and them promptly crashed, full out, in the bed, under the covers. When my daughter texted, I went over to her place to spend a few hours catching up with her and my son-in-law. I love spending time with them. Amazing, crazy, motivated kids who keep me on my toes intellectually with their insights into their world and their open hearts.

Sunday, I got to go to Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business and to Worship with Spring Friends. I have not worshiped with them since August and I have missed them! During the business meeting, a local cat was wandering around in the snow and was welcomed in to share our breakfast, warmth, and discussions.

Cat acting as assistant recording clerk.

Finally, before beginning the two-hour drive back to Fayettteville, I had seen the pleasant forecast and brought a change of clothes so that I could visit the Shallow Ford Trail again. I have not found my perfect trail in Fayetteville, and I was really missing Shallow Ford. Two people warned me, “It’ll be muddy and wet.” “It’s okay. I brought my muddy and wet shoes.” The second I stepped onto the foot bridge over a tiny creek that begins the trail and heard the gurgling of the water over bits of ice and rocks, I knew I was where I was supposed to be.

Shallow Ford, like many trails through wooded areas, winds back and forth and round and about. It goes uphill and downhill. Sometimes, there are trees that have come down and have not been cleared away, yet.

We have mindfulness classes at Quaker House and, the first Thursday of the month, Holy Trinity opens their beautiful labyrinth to the public. That labyrinth is peaceful and serene. It makes up the floor of the sanctuary, is lit by votive candles artistically placed around it, and you can hear the trickling water of the baptismal font. It leaves nothing to be desired in beauty and in inviting a clear mind.

I have also walked an outdoor labyrinth at Stony Point Center in New York. It is simpler, but makes up for that simpleness by being outside.

I have been trying to love labyrinths, to confine my feet to their intricate patterns. But, now I finally realize, my perfect labyrinth is laid out in the winding trails through wooded areas along rivers and tributaries, up hills and down slopes, over rocks and around occasionally fallen trees. My perfect labyrinth is of the more wild variety.



Firsts (and a Last) and Lessons Learned

This month was eventful.

Foosball–the perfect post-Thanksgiving meal activity.
  • We had our first Thanksgiving in Quaker House.
  • This was also the first Thanksgiving with my daughter and her husband as a married couple. I loved every minute with them and was so glad they made the trip.
  • I got out my first large-circulation newsletter.
  • I went on my first Disaster Action Team (DAT) call with the Red Cross in Fayetteville! I had been active with the Red Cross Disaster Cycle Services in Alamance County, but I finally allowed myself to have this non-work activity. It was refreshing and reaffirming to reestablish that little protected niche for myself. The call itself was sad. They usually are in their own unique ways. But, I got to help in a tiny way and let them know that they are not alone.
  • Quaker House hosted its last meeting of  the Fayetteville Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW). They are a wonderful group of people and have been meeting at Quaker House for many years. They have simply outgrown our space and our available parking on the street. I am so glad I got to meet them here and will be able to follow them to their new and better location.

What I’ve Learned This Month

I am learning so much so fast in these early days at Quaker House, that I thought it might be nice to chronicle the lessons, both to look back on later and to provide a little camaraderie with other new and not-so-new nonprofit directors.

  • I figured out how to readjust a deadbolt lock that has gone out of alignment due to changes in temperature and humidity.
  • I have fumbled my way through a minuscule amount of Drupal (the content management software that our web site uses).
  • I have become more familiar with some of the creative and effective methods of nonviolent direct action through an excellent web-based course with Eileen Flanagan.
  • I laid out my first newsletter in Publisher for large-scale distribution and then sent it along a chain from the printer, to the folder, to the direct mail service–and then picked up the overruns.
  • From Thanksgiving dinner, I learned that I miss having leftovers. I need to start cooking again more often (which has basically been on hold since some time in August).
  • While working, I really love my noise-silencing headphones (no music input jack — just blocking out noise). I bought them while I was in law school because sometimes there was great music playing or such things while I was trying to study at home, and the headphones were the best solution for everyone. I still do my best thinking in silence, and Quaker House sometimes has other people working here. I am so glad that I held on to them, and that I knew right where they were after the move!
  • I need to continue working on work-life balance. This really hit home on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Technically, it was a holiday. I woke up thinking of all the things I wanted to work on. I had planned to get a very brief workout first thing in the morning. I thought, “I don’t have time.” Then, I realized that was ridiculous since it was supposed to be a holiday. So, I worked out. Next up was breakfast. “I don’t have time. I can just grab something to munch on.” Again, I realized that this was ridiculous thinking on a holiday. I got my breakfast. The next battle was the time I had planned to set aside for my own scripture study/prayer/silence. With unbelievable persistence, my mind said, “I don’t have time.” I sat down and spent the time I had set aside. It was incredibly difficult for the first few moments, though. I could feel anxiety pulling at my arms to reach for a pen, pulling at my legs to get up and walk over to my desk, pulling at my eyes to work on some editing I needed to do. Gradually, I relaxed into the quiet. Perhaps, if I insist on a more consistent morning routine, by mind and body will adjust and expectantly settle into those pathways–knowing that there will be plenty of time to work on the endless lists of tasks and projects.

I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving!