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Together – The Event

October 23, 2018

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The get-together that we had been planning for, finally came about, and all thanks to a special person who actually did most of the preparations. I went carrying the same concerns which I had expressed in a recent post, but also with the added hope that something new might happen.

On our first evening we took turns to tell our names, nationality and where we came from. Most added a brief rundown of past and present achievements and it was all rather upbeat, except for a few folks who spoke of recent and ongoing struggles.

The pattern continued the following morning, with even more folks opening up about deep personal experiences. This was somewhat new, as we usually reserved certain topics for more private settings, but here folks felt comfortable enough to bring them up before everyone.

The day continued with lots of music, meals, swimming, walks and relaxing together, but the comments of those first two meetings encouraged us to proceed with the proposed round-table discussions. Here is an introduction I had written for it:

Round Table Discussion

We’ve all had positive, honest and enriching conversations on how things have changed and progressed in recent years. We have all benefited from comparing notes, sharing experiences and even talking of the challenges we’ve faced and how we’ve overcome them. Some of us have found this sort of communication deeply satisfying, stimulating further growth and strengthening our bonds. We would like to try this as a group. Anyone interested can sign up to participate in a round table discussion.

Questions and Points for Discussion

  1. What TFI meant to me before the reboot.
  2. What I appreciated most about it and what I did struggled with.
  3. What the reboot meant to me, advantages and difficulties with it.
  4. What I miss about the past and what I am glad is no more.
  5. How did changes effect my beliefs, what I remain convinced of, what I am not so sure about and what I no longer believe.
  6. What challenged my faith and what helped it grow and deepen.
  7. When, where and how I found solutions and answers to my questions.
  8. How changes impacted my relationships, with other TFI members, my kids, my marriage and the world about me.
  9. Add your own…

Format and guidelines

Anyone can speak without fear of judgment. Nothing is off limits except such things as would pass judgment on others “Judge not, and you will not be judged”. The point is to share personal experiences, progress, struggles, questions and answers from which we can mutually benefit, not to vent grievances or call attention to other people’s mistakes. We welcome diversity of ideas and wish for our communication to be under-girded by love, appreciation and humility.

Honestly, when presenting this, I was hoping that only a few folks would participate. Though I have approached these topics before, it was always in small groups, so I was a bit apprehensive on how it would work with a room full of people.

Being aware of past tensions and present diversity, I wondered how the more vocal types would handle disagreeable views. And could those who felt hurt by others in the past let go of it sufficiently and resist the temptation to set the record straight?

Well, in spite of my fears, I am glad to say that everyone joined the round table discussions and displayed an exceptional level of maturity. None tried to force his opinions or personal doctrines, everyone spoke freely, heard each other out, embraced diversity and supported each other in it.

So things went better than I had anticipated, with the discussion stretching into the next day and I think we crossed a crucial threshold. In a way, talking openly about these things, helped us to move beyond appearances, beyond going through the motions of what’s expected and to look at each other more deeply, honestly and truthfully.

It even felt as if our other activities, like swimming, eating, dancing and singing together, were more real and fun after that. So it was an enjoyable and profitable time, and I dare to hope that we could build on it, that future get-together would be as honest, open and welcoming of all our family members, no matter what they do or think now.

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