“Mommy, look, a fairy circle where magic happens.”
For those new to Farm & Wilderness, Silent Meeting is a practice that is observed in all our camps. We come together for 10 – 20 minutes/day (longer on weekends for some) to sit in silence. If moved to speak, a participant, be they camper or counselor might share a thought, a poem, or a song they want to tell the group. While only a few who come to camp have had prior experience with Silent Meeting (it is based on Quaker Meeting for Worship), most campers learn to appreciate this important ritual in our day.
We quickly experience that the “silence” is not truly silent, as there is the singing of birds, the buzzing of bugs, and the rustling of trees (and animals playing in the leaves) to listen to. One might spend the time watching the clouds move through the sky and/or peering on a herd of ants hard at work carrying some blades of grass. It is also fun to look at the faces of people with whom you recently canoed, or washed dishes, or built a trail footbridge, and to remember those fun times. While it might take a while to learn how to settle in the silence, by the end of camp, it often seems like the time flies by. It is often mentioned on questionnaires as one of the camp activities most important/liked by a camper during the summer.
I know that for myself, Farm & Wilderness is the place where many of my deepest friendships have been formed. It may be because I am living with folks who’ve seen me before I’ve brushed my teeth; who’ve dressed in costume and acted in silly skits with me; who have stalked me while I’ve snuck through the woods playing countless games of Wild People; and with whom I have hauled tons of gravel (literally) to build the foundation of a cabin. But it also might be that these are people who over many summers I have sat within Silent Meeting. While Silent Meeting is an individual undertaking, because we are all together, it is incredibly communal as well. And when I think about, there are few people outside of my camp life with whom I regularly share prolonged silence. Being in the Meeting Circle together daily allows us to know, trust and appreciate each other in a different way. And, it seems to knit us together into a community. Or maybe, what is happening is, as that 7-year-old observed, some fairy magic at work.