Sunday, June 15, 2008

Soon to Depart

My next adventure begins soon. I depart tomorrow for Woodbrooke for the FAHE conference. I will arrive in the morning on Tuesday.

Lately, I have found myself unusually emotional and anxious. (Ok, once upon a time, anxiety was a way of life for me. It's actually kind of nice to find myself experiencing it as an unwelcome intrusion again: that suggests that I actually have become mostly not-anxious in life in general, which is good!) I think the reason I am so worked up ironically is because I am so looking forward to this trip! I can hardly believe I am really going. You see, Woodbrooke is one of my very favorite places of all. It means so much to me because of the year I spent there way back when. This was such an important year for me.

I had dropped out of college. I was transitioning from thinking of myself as an aspiring scientist to thinking of myself as an aspiring philosopher and theologian, although I did not fully realize this then. Woodbrooke at that time had a year-long program of informal studies (divided into three terms), and I was fortunate enough to be able to piece together the means to stay for the year, with the help of scholarship assistance and work-study assistance from Woodbrooke. I did, in a leap of faith, pour in every penny of my own remaining savings, as the final step that made this possible. Looking back, I admire that I was brave enough to trust my own intuitions this much, because it really was the right decision. That year at Woodbrooke was spiritually formative for me.

I studied Quaker Studies. I did a lot of writing that helped me to shift my intellectual identity into philosophy and theology. I met a number of people who kept encouraging me to continue my formal studies, and to do so at a Quaker college, such as Earlham (which is in fact what I did next in life). I loved the daily discipline of two times of worship per day (in the morning and the evening). I met people from all over the world. I played a lot of music with a small chamber group we formed. The community and the structure of daily life were wonderfully supportive to me.

When I went back two years ago to spend a month there when I was on sabbatical, I found it wonderful all over again. A lot had changed, but the same supportive spirit was there. I've written about that experience here (March 2006).

This time I will be there two weeks, framed by two conferences, with a little time in-between for research.

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