Spirit of Peace Stroud Listening Conversation

Date: Monday 28th January 2019

Time: 7.15pm for 7.30pm

Venue: The Christian Community, 73 Cainscross Road, Stroud

Following on from the theme ‘How can I be right, without making you wrong?’, our January event will focus on Stepping into your world. During the evening we will be exploring how we can temporarily let go of our own perspectives and beliefs, and enter into the mindset of the other in order to understand their world.

We will be serving light refreshments at the beginning and end of the evening and if you feel like bringing a small snack to the share, that would be very welcome. There will also be a collection towards the work of Spirit of Peace.

Purpose of the group

At a recent review, it was decided that although there had been some drop-off in numbers it was important to continue to deepen the conversation and invite new members. The following report was provided some years ago and well-describes the nature and value of the conversations.

Some years ago friends of mine acquired a property near Stroud. The garden was large and completely neglected. They wanted to make a large pond, and somehow got hold of a dilapidated digger and dug a wide hole. Then they waited – and within a year that hole had filled with water; vegetation grew all around the sides- bull-rushes, marsh marigolds and watercress. In the spring it became the home for a family of ducks. Nature, time and good-intention had created something worthwhile and beautiful.

And so it seems, that is what is happening in the Spirit of Peace meetings that have been taking place in Stroud almost every month now, for the last three or four years. Generally about twenty people sit in a circle. About four to six Muslims from the Friendship Café in Gloucester drive over after a long working day. The candle is lit and a Singing Bowl is sounded. There is often a topic. In the early days it was more about explaining the different festivals in the major religions at each season. Now the topics seem to be wider and more individual. For example, "How can I be right, without making you wrong?" "What is belief?" "Is belief the same as faith?" "How does my Faith/faith help me in my life?"

Sometimes someone will open the evening with a short, prepared introduction and then anyone can speak openly if they feel moved to do so- and most people in the circle do. It is a safe space, knowing that no one will interrupt or criticise. Over the years, although there are always new people coming and going into the meetings, a strong feeling of respect and acceptance is present and genuine friendship and understanding. Many find it a relief to be able to express themselves openly at such a deep and personal level. We end after an hour and a half, with a few refreshments – and a warm feeling that we have all experienced a step towards understanding each other a bit more.

Our current co-ordinator writes: We always start with a sounding bowl to takes us into some silence, and then we wait until someone feels inspired to talk. Others then pick up the threads of conversation which have inspired or resonated with them…. and the conversation evolves – hopefully with an emphasis on listening to each other, as well as speaking. The themes we touch on are many and varied – sometimes connected with events in the wider world and in our local communities, or with matters of faith or our inner lives.

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