Epistle from Hybrid Spring Retreat for Friends of Color

An overview of the hybrid retreat offered by FGC’s Ministry on Racism Program

From May 3-5, attenders and FGC staff members gathered for the Hybrid Spring Retreat for Friends of Color. Here is an epistle from the event:

We started our journey to La Jolla, California in different places and different ways.

With the help of cars and planes, we gathered at La Jolla Friends Meeting and greeted each other. With the help of computers, those of us who were unable to join in body were able to join in spirit. Those of us gathered in person tested for Covid to keep each other safe and awaited our results in the miraculous sun that shone through the coastal clouds. We were welcomed by the love that manifests when we connect and reconnect with our Friends of Color community.

The hospitality of La Jolla Friends Meeting was felt throughout the weekend as we gathered at their beautiful meetinghouse and enjoyed food prepared by a Friend of Color and volunteers from the local meeting.

We educated ourselves about local people and customs, past and present. From what we learned, we carry a concern for reparations: how can we make a structural impact by helping to develop a national process for the return of stolen property and the paying of rents as well as a local history with detailed records of property transfers from when the lands were first recorded and the history before where our Meetings reside.

We listened deeply in groups of two, connecting and reconnecting, and talked and interacted in small groups to get to know each other better and/or catch up. We spent time in expectant worship and had some solitary time.

We enjoyed the environment by visiting the bookstore, walking to the ocean, talking to the brown squirrels, and watching the pelicans flap their wings on the ocean. We enjoyed seeing the sea lions laying in the sun. We discovered many sources of surprise and delight, including lemon trees, hummingbirds, succulents, libraries, squirrels, and loquat fruit (aka “nisperos” en Español). We were accompanied by birdsong and the sound of the ocean throughout the weekend. Our time together bestowed us with nourishment in many forms: delicious food, artful listening, carefree dancing, rest, affinity, and much more.

We practiced being in our joy bubbles, staying in them away from distractions, and some of us were hesitant to return. We were invited to hold each other accountable in speaking joy intentionally and exercising our joy muscle.

We were vulnerable with one another, sharing injuries experienced within other (non POC) Quaker spaces, experienced and exhibited empathy, and held space for both the harms experienced but for our individual and collective healing, and a broader healing for our Religious Society of Friends and world.

As we are getting ready to say goodbye, we get a little melancholic and hope we see each other again soon. We also hope more and more Friends are able to attend events in person.

Friends of Color Retreats continue to be an important source of spiritual deepening, relationship building, affirmation, and restoration for Friends of Color.

We are grateful to La Jolla Friends Meeting for sharing their lovely home with us.

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