Chapter 22 » 22.27

Sharing a home or living alone

In 1989 Rachel Rowlands wrote of her experience of living in the Quaker Community at Bamford, Derbyshire:

This idea of people having sufficient separate space – the families with their self-contained units, single people in individual bedsits and a flat – stems from early discussions when we recognised that many communities founder through lack of breathing space and privacy. There is still much scope for ‘being communal’: twice-daily meeting for worship, four o’clock tea in the main kitchen, looking after other people’s children, borrowing this, lending a hand with that, communal housework, a shared meal followed by house meeting each Friday evening, entering into each other’s joys and sorrows, celebrating birthdays, gardening, developing new skills together in work on the roof or down the manhole…

We are called to recognise each other’s boundaries, strengths and weaknesses, to be assertive and learn to handle conflict constructively. We struggle to face, rather than evade, our conflicts and this has recently been the focus of our ‘Mary’ meetings, which, named after a facilitator who helped us initially, are the one type of meeting which everyone makes a firm commitment to attend. As meeting for worship is the cornerstone of our spiritual life, so these meetings are for the nitty-gritty of living together.

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