Middle School Friends at Green Street MM

Middle School Friends

MSF is so awesome!

Last weekend was our first overnight of the school year. Even though it was a short gathering – just one night – we packed in all the things that makes MSF such a wonderful community. We:

  • Welcomed several new Friends, and saw Friends from past gatherings
  • Spontaneously started a fun new game of sharing random facts. As a result, we learned things about the world, family history, animals, books and all sorts of other interests
  • Had a great workshop! More about that below
  • Really liked being in the Green Street space! We slept in the meeting room, played on the playground (including brand new play structure) and got to explore the cool nooks and crannies around the building
  • Strengthened our connections through small worship sharing groups
  • Made pancakes for breakfast, and enjoyed the cute aprons
  • New clerks ran the meeting for business, and we talked about hopes and plans for next gathering in November

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Our Workshop: How DO you pick your friends?

The workshops we do at MSF are part of what makes our community uniquely meaningful. This month, as everyone starts a new school year and we welcome many awesome sixth graders for the first time, it seemed like a good opportunity to think about how we create meaningful friendships. Most of us are taught to form connections based on what we have in common with each other. We look for ways that we share life experience, hobbies and interests. There are good things about this approach. BUT. The problem is that we learn to seek out similarities and avoid differences. Most cliques in school are formed around this trend, and it has big implications. How are we really supposed to create “safe” and “inclusive” community if we are not addressing the ways we are different, and learning to love and celebrate those differences? In particular, we noted that race, class, sexual orientation and gender identity can result in big differences in life experience that we don’t address openly or directly.

In our workshop, we shared things about our own experiences that make us feel different. We practiced listening to each other, and even asking questions about how those differences have shaped our lives. As the facilitator, I was deeply moved by the bravery and vulnerability the MSFers displayed in their sharing. The adults who were supporting the gathering (several parents, plus myself and the wonderful Elizabeth Croce, our MSF assistant) had modeled the activity fishbowl-style, and we all noted how as adults, we also struggle with the skill of sharing and asking questions that acknowledge and make visible the differences between ourselves and others. And yet, I think we all saw how much deeper our connections can go when we risk our hearts and go there.

My very favorite part of the weekend was our closing appreciation/gratitude circle, where several MSFers and Friendly Adults closed by saying “thank you for having that awkward conversation with me!” I’ll tell you. I cried a little when I heard that. I’m going to take that simple, important, phrase into my life as a reminder that I can share, ask, and thank people for creating bridges between our differences.

Next Up:

Our next gathering is November 4th – 6th at Westtown. We’ll be doing a ropes course, more workshops, worship sharing, fellowship and, by popular demand, a talent show! Hope to see you there!

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(Playing games and drawing in the library! Making pancakes for breakfast!)