Friday, November 16, 2007

Workshop evaluations summary

General feedback:
  1. Did the workshop cover the topics you expected? 7 yes; 2 no.
  2. Did the workshop stick to the subject? 9 yes; 0 no.
  3. Was the workshop a safe place for you to share? 9 yes; 0 no.
  4. Was the workshop spiritually nurturing? 9 yes; 0 no.
  5. Was the workshop fun and/or interesting? 9 yes; 0 no.
  6. Was the Advance Program description accurate? 6 yes; 2 no.
  7. Did you use the information posted on the website in making a workshop selection? 7 yes; 2 no.
  8. If you used the website, was the information helpful? 7 yes; 2 n/a.
  9. Was the quality of worship within the workshop appropriate? 9 always; 0 sometimes; 0 not at all.
  10. Was the leader prepared and knowledgeable? 9 always; 0 sometimes; 0 not at all.
  11. Was the leader appropriately flexible? 8 always; 1 sometimes; 0 not at all.
  12. Did the leader interact appropriately with the group? 9 always; 0 sometimes; 0 not at all.
  13. Did the material presented speak to your condition? 8 always; 1 sometimes; 0 not at all.
  14. To what extent was the amount of worship and/or worship-sharing in the workshop appropriate for you? 0 not enough; 8 about right; 1 too much.
  15. How much daily worship and/or worship-sharing do you expect in a workshop? 1, less than 20 minutes; 7, 20-40 minutes; 1, more than 40 minutes.
  16. Would you recommend this workshop to a Friend if it was offered at a future Gathering? 9 yes; 0 no.
  17. Is this leader skilled enough so that would take another workshop offered by him/her, if the topic were of interest? 9 yes; 0 no.
19. Comments on the workshop leader:
  • Stasa was a well-versed leader with a lot of knowledge in the subject area. She was flexible, encouraged participation, and adjusted plans based on interest.
  • Great caring, understanding.
  • This dear Friend I miss from my meeting, so one of the reasons I took this workshop was to spend time with her.
  • I appreciate her capacity for discernment, her wide, deep experience, her honesty.
  • Stasa was well prepared and capable, worship felt safe. Very capable and trustworthy.
  • Stasa was very loving and nurturing, fun, light hearted, thoughtful, and a great leader. She was very kind and motherly to me which was exactly what I needed, being the youngest, sickest (germ wise) participant.
  • Well informed and ready to go as the group led her.
20. Best things that happened during the workshop:
  • Connections and exploring how Quakers can function with ritual.
  • Conversation and growing closer to people in the workshop worship sharing was meaningful and powerful.
  • Lots of good singing.
  • Ritual, ceremony.
  • Gathering of Friends. Getting to know the other people and having shared experiences and being safe.
  • The closing ritual was wonderful. Sharing.
  • Our final worship-ritual on healing.
  • Community, education.
  • Cleansing ritual was not only beneficial for the experience of being in a circle of other Pagans, but for emotional healing as well. I felt renewed, refreshed and loved. It was wonderful.
21. Troubling things about the workshop:
  • I was nervous about the age difference between me and the other members, but that cleared up quickly.
22. Ways that the workshop did not meet expectations:
  • I had hoped for more discussion. We did this on Wednesday. I would have liked every day.
  • I thought we would be outside more. Wanted to be involved in nature more.
  • Wednesday was a long discussion about common elements of religions that did not feel like it fit the rest of the workshop. Discussion felt dry, not experiential, then again I was very sleepy.
  • I was not used to being in a Pagan group but after the first hour was glad they were there. As an academic, I am curious about history and the connection to ancient spiritual practice. More of this would enhance the program.
23. Comments on guest speaker, field trip, video, or other "special event":
  • Ritual is a special event, wonderful.
  • Both of our rituals were extraordinary, though the first was more powerful for me.
24. New skills, knowledge, or understanding taken from the workshop:
  • I feel more balanced and solid in my own leadings. Leading ceremony.
  • I will take the experience of being in a circle with other more knowledgeable Pagans and seeing how and why they do things.
  • Acceptance of support of Pagan Friends.
  • Diversity in spirituality.
  • Some new songs and connections with like minded Friends.
  • Circle casting, chants and other music.
25. How the workshop affected participants as a Friend:
  • Deepened my practice. I value procedures more, understand clearness committees better.
  • Deep worship, healing, validation of my spirituality.
  • I feel more convicted in my beliefs as a Pagan Quaker. The community gave me strength and courage.
  • Deepened my spiritual experience. Further broadened my spiritual basis.
26. Other comments for the workshop leader:
  • Just what I wanted was different. I felt the workshop did go in the direction the group wanted. I held aside my direction other than small notices that would have been heard if that was what others wanted.
  • Definitely do it again. This was amazing.
  • Thank you.
  • Thanks for your courage.
  • Do some stuff outside. Very important to be in nature.
  • I hope she receives the appreciation that she is worthy of.
  • Hugs and blessings.
  • Some history, druidry, celtic philosophy, perhaps to give context to temporal worship.
27. Other comments for the Workshops Committee:
  • I don't think the Gathering mission statement correctly reflects the gathering mission. It should include the explorative edge processing nature of the workshops. This is a think/feeling tank for Quakerism. Not only inward growth but outward growth.
  • I appreciate space at Gathering for Quaker Pagans to get together.
  • I wonder if a workshop could be developed to form a Pagan-Quaker section for Junior Gathering.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Crocheting the Goddess

There's an expression my colleague Julie Middleton came up with in consultation with me as a workshop title, and which she has freely allowed me to use: Singing the Goddess.

This comes to mind about a crochet pattern I've been working out.

A few nights ago night, I think I successfully completed designing a crochet pattern for a project that's been in my head for quite a while. It's a triple moon (triple Goddess) in white on the midnight-blue background of a triangular shawl.

I've crocheted a number of triangular shawls over this last year. The first one I ever made was for the wedding of two F/friends in 2005 (of white Egyptian cotton yarn).

And then I made a shawl for myself, to help me settle into, and stay warm during, Meeting -- candy apple red, acrylic and polyester, and another one that was in my head for a long time first.

But this last year, I started making rainbow prayer/comfort/Meeting shawls for the silent auction at FLGBTQC Gatherings. So far, I've made three, and I'm most of the way through a fourth. Two are in good homes, one's waiting for me to make arrangements with the woman who bought it, and the fourth one is also already spoken for. It's very gratifying.

For my shawl and for the rainbow shawls, I've been using Lion Brand Homespun, an acrylic and polyester yarn that's sometimes a pain to work with, but that's soft and cozy, machine washes well, works up quickly, and that I'm not allergic to. (I don't think I've worked in any wool in the last year, since my asthma was so bad last fall.)

Just like the Candy Apple caught my imagination -- it reminded me of an old blanket we'd had once, where the color just made me want to wrap myself up in it; and when I saw the yarn, I knew I wanted to wrap myself up in something I made of it -- one of the blues I've used for the rainbow shawls has also inspired me. I couldn't find the bright blue I'd been using, so I ended up with Colonial instead, and it caught my imagination.

So I think this is the color I'll use for this shawl, with white for the moons (intarsia, or crocheting them in, rather than embroidering them on after).

The design works in theory. But as my acquaintance Nancy says, "I want to move to theory. Everything works in theory." So, we shall see what happens when I actually try to work it. This'll be a neat learning experience.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"what i want"

In 2000, the choir I was singing with recorded "what i want," a song based on part of a poem by Pat Lowther, with music by Stephen Smith.

This was hard for me, but a good experience. I am a survivor of domestic violence, both as a child and an adult, and Pat was murdered in 1975 by her violent and abusive husband. We'd sung the piece several times in concert, but recording produces its own additional tension. At the end of the final take of the song, I burst into tears -- relief? pain? My friend Laurie put her arms around me, and other friends, including Jen, a Coven-mate, and Mo, whom I was dating at the time, and other women in my choir also comforted me. I was okay; I had just needed to cry. I had good support and good community from women who understood, who got it.

I've had parts of the song stuck in my head today, because I'm participating in a research project at the University of Michigan on trauma and recovery, and I filled out detailed questionnaires this morning about scary things I've experienced. I feel good about the research project: the project's head researcher is very good, the project is well-designed, and it's really important to get good research on trauma recovery. But participating in the project itself is not fun.

I didn't space out about the difficult, scary, or life-threatening things I've chosen to do as an adult. Funny how choice and being an adult help. And so does support. I chose to go to a war zone to do humanitarian work (even if I didn't choose to be left there by my first team; thank the Goddess for the other folks I knew in the region); I chose to be on the Gulf Coast after a major hurricane, even if I didn't know I was going to go through another one while I was down there; I even chose to respond to the shooting in front of my house, although I sure didn't choose the shooting. I was an adult, and I took good care of myself, during all of those; and I also had good support from other people. Those experiences have had after-effects, but not like the violence I lived through as a kid and a teenager. breathe
continuously the sources of sky,
a veined sail moving,
my love never setting
foot to the dark
anvil of earth
The earth has always been a source of comfort for me. It's sad for me that it doesn't seem to have been for Lowther. But that yearning for expansion of soul is something that resonates with me; it's something I've definitely experienced. I was writing about that last night: the ways in which that expansion of soul -- the opposite of constriction -- has marked both the recovery work I've done, and opportunities for more growth in front of me.

There's more... but that's a different piece of writing.