Hearing their words

Serie noire et rouge, etchingWhat did T say? Not “discourteous”, that is my word. He said it seemed I was not paying attention. We use words with different meanings, but it is worse to understand what I think he meant, and put that idea in my own words. The actual words you use may help me approach your meaning.

I clerked Area Meeting yesterday, and we had 38 people- more than have worshipped at that meeting house in living memory, double what we ever have at AM. As an experiment, we moved directly into business from the meeting for worship, and I encouraged members from the four local meetings to come so as to worship together. As people spoke in the business session, I typed what they said- verbatim, in places, especially when people spoke slowly. I noticed F used verbal phrases, but could not specify one, now, as I did not take them down. Her words flow quickly, and persuade by the bubbling torrent of them; each of D’s seems measured and weighty, with a magisterial effect.

L'Oiseau solaire l'oiseau lunaire, lithograph and aquatintI looked down at my net-book, with its ten inch screen, and T thought it looked like I was not paying attention. The screen forms a barrier between me and the other person, and putting the net-book on my lap, so that the screen does not stick above the table surface, does not improve things. I am looking down, I should look at the person, and take the odd note with a pen.

I am auditory, not visual-focused. I get information through hearing. Looking at someone might mean I take in less. Taking down what someone says shows I am paying attention. Did he think I was blogging? Have some trust in my goodwill: if I am uninterested in what people say, I am not trying to do the job. The appearance matters, reality matters more. In tribunals, the judge’s pen moving shows s/he is paying attention. Beware when it stops- I have to win her interest.

I would rather note-take on worship sharing around the Long Term Framework questions, including What is your vision of the ministry that your local meeting and Quakers in Britain are called to, now and in the future? Instead, we are squabbling about when AM should be. Oundle want trustees’ meetings to be held on the same day as AM, so their elderly members do not have to drive in the dark when they cannot see properly. Trustees think this impractical, as their meetings can last three hours.  I said, diplomatically, that we were hearing each others’ needs, but we were most keen to press our own.

I want us to struggle to Unity on this. I do not want us just to do as we have always done, or even to accept my compromise proposal out of weariness. What is the Good of the meeting? Yet I want some structure.  K proposed dealing with membership business at the end, because asking attenders to leave is- discourteous is my word again, something around she did not enjoy kicking her heels outside and does not wish it on others. No, membership business comes at the start, because it is particularly important. Let us do as we have always done for that, not open it up again.

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