L'Art de la conversation by Rene Magritte
This week I was blessed with two of these conversations, after missing them for what seems like years. The second one occurred at the yearly 2-day conference of the Fellowship of Quakers in the Arts. There we each shared our art(s) at an open mic of poetry, music, song, theater, and slide presentations. Visual arts--paintings, fabric and paper art, pottery, and sculpture--formed a gallery, and I actually entered my raw notebook of first drafts here (besides reading 4 poems in the show). We expanded our perception of the world through trying out new ideas in workshops and at meals. Here is a picture of me with Pat Reed in the "Clay: Naturally!" workshop she led with Marilyn Morrison of the Lancaster County Art Association:
|Pictures are by Blair Seitz|
In his "Revision" workshop, Blair Seitz read from his new book and led us through an exercise of writing for 20 minutes and then work-shopping our work in the intimate group. I wrote about my broken heart, one still evident despite retirement from teaching English in Philadelphia's secondary schools. The conversation climbed because it did not hinge on particulars but on the theories and experiences of learning we each brought into the room. I was finally moved to tears from an overflow of gratitude, tears from being part of a true meeting for learning in the Parker Palmer sense:
Meeting For Learning: Education In A Quaker Context
by PARKER PALMER
"Much of what I want to say about education in a Quaker context can be organized around one of Quakerism's most central, concrete, yet spacious images: the image of "meeting." Among Friends, of course, there is first the meeting for worship, but then there is the meeting for business, the meeting for marriage, the meeting on the occasion of a graduation , the meeting in memorial of one who has died.... Friends made a simple and compelling point: The common element in both worship and business should be the search for truth - and the expectation that, if we give it space and time, truth will come to us."
- Palmer, from the pamphlet "Friends Council on Education" 2007 13 PP. Paper
When I speak of the "Art of Conversation," I am not speaking about the discipline of Rhetoric taught in academies, but the meetings for learning that can occur inside or outside of them when the spirit comes out to play as well as emotions and mind. In this art, we find our vulnerabilities, our meanings, our friends. In these meetings we grow.