In June, Little Rock Friends celebrated Pride Month, dealt with the breakdown of our decades-old HVAC system just at a time when it was needed most, and mourned the loss of a dear Friend in the AR-OK Quarterly Meeting.
Pride Month in Arkansas is important to us as Quakers, and we welcome all to listen in on Peace and Justice Committee meetings, bringing your ideas and energy as we strive to participate more and more in local peace and justice initiatives like the celebration of 2SLGBTQIA+ Pride in Arkansas. Meanwhile, the Communications, Outreach, and Web Committee is trying out a few pamphlet ideas so that when we do set up our table at Juneteenth, wear our t-shirts while joining Arkansas Peace Week events, or have a picnic in a park, curious members of the public can walk away with something that invites them to join us while dispelling common myths and misconceptions about the Religious Society of Friends.
Regarding the air conditioner, with a flurry of calls to contractors, impromptu meetings of the (currently clerk-less) House and Grounds Committee, quick reviews of bids, and a lot of time and energy put in by a few, a new unit was installed within a couple of weeks.
Emergencies such as this one and the frozen / burst pipes this winter have driven home to us the great importance of having a functioning House and Grounds Committee with a clerk. With this in mind, we have recently begun sharing a list of list of current repairs and needed improvements along with an invitation for anyone who feels so led to answer the call to convene regular meetings and clerk them.
For the June 4th meeting, many chose to stay home and join by Zoom. For those who braved the heat, there was a sweating growler of chilled lemon-and-mint-infused water to guzzle. All present heard John and Liz recap their experiences at this year's South Central Yearly Meeting. They both found this year's theme and promise of "Spiritual Refreshment for the Long Haul" to have been fulfilled.
Susan Garzon passed away peacefully at home Sunday night, May 28th, after a long struggle with cancer. She and Jan Michael were happily married for 32 years and were cornerstones in the building up of the Arkansas-Oklahoma Quarterly Meeting, which is where many Little Rock Friends got to know them both. We continue to hold Jan in the Light as he grieves the death of his beloved life partner. A memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Guatemala Scholarship Program at Redwood Forest Friends Meeting (redwoodforestfriends.org) or Guatemala projects at Heifer Project International (heifer.org).
Not knowing if the new HVAC system would yet be up and running by second Sunday, the monthly potluck was cancelled for June. On the 11th we continued our study of Listening to the Light: How to Bring Quaker Simplicity and Integrity into Our Lives by Jim Pym. The third Sunday was Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business. By the end of worship hour, fourteen members and attenders were gathered between Zoom and the now pleasantly cool meethinghouse. On the 25th, we used the worship sharing format to explore how often and in what manner we might broaden our Compassionate Communication journey. Many agreed that getting together one Saturday per month in person and on Zoom could work for them. Friends' value of community, seen in fourth position on our Quaker SPICES banner, was embodied in the sharing of summer squash freshly picked by Friend Jim. He even brought extra shopping bags to make it easier for everyone to partake of his garden's bounty.
Given the right inward state, right action is inevitable.
By the time Little Rock Friends Meeting had gathered for our first meeting for worship in May, Friend Liz had already joined others on the steps of the Oklahoma State Capitol to bring attention to the injustices in death-row inmate Richard Glossip's case and to the wider issue of capital punishment.
On the seventh, there were ten in the meetinghouse and four online. We are nearing the end of our reading and discussion of Jim Pym's book Listening to the Light: How to Bring Quaker Simplicity and Integrity into Our Lives. The penultimate chapter is entitled "The Adventurous Life" and begins with a quote by Charles Carter, 1971, QFP, 26.39. Here it is in part: "True faith is not assurance, but the readiness to go forward experimentally, without assurance." This chapter was a potent springboard for rich and deep sharing and reflection.
On the 14th of May, all generations came together for singing, and Young Friends led us all in an activity called Kooky Quakers, a game in which three people collaborate on the drawing of a Quaker without being able to see the other two parts until after all three parts have been drawn. During second hour, another intergenerational activity took place in the Young Friends space while worship was happening in the front room. Some chips and bananas were spotted in the kitchen, but most forgot it was potluck day!
With so many Friends away to attend Arkansas-Oklahoma spring quarterly meeting at Lake Fort Smith State Park, the May meeting for worship with attention to business was skipped. Those present took part in an open discussion.
Meanwhile at Lake Fort Smith State Park's Kingfisher Lodge, Sammy led everyone down to the basketball court and for an hour of the millennia-old practice of Qi Gong while the air was still fresh and cool. Attenders also enjoyed time for fellowship, worship, worship sharing, a meeting for worship with attention to business, music, games, puzzles, nature walks, naps, and healthful meals lovingly prepared with sensitivity to those who don't eat meat or gluten. We were especially mindful of the absence of two Friends, a husband and wife, spending that weekend adjusting to hospice care for her.
On the 28th, between online and in person, we were thirteen in number, two in the Young Friends room, where (rumor has it) there is a sewing machine being set up for the projects that will follow the t-shirts. First hour was an interactive exploration of Compassionate Communication based on a recorded session led by Jim Manske focused on gratitude and empathy. All of Jim's offerings are free / donation-based for all. His website is pathwaystoliberation.com.
Monday was a day off for many, and we took advantage of our own grounds and generous late afternoon shade of the grand oak tree with a quickly organized picnic open to all; it came together beautifully.