The women's book group here gave up on books ages ago. It's a potluck time with sharing lives.
I think this second group makes it much easier to become intimate and vulnerable. In the abstract, a unstructured gathering is riskier in that someone could ruin the dynamic: someone with drama all the time, etc. On the other hand, the long relationships some of the women have had makes it stable. It will be some time, i suppose, before i determine whether there is skill in managing boundaries in this group. My sense is that they can -- if someone showed up and was me-me-me-me, they could guide them. I sense a capacity to give support without being overwhelmed. On the other hand, a small meeting may not be attractive to someone who is emotionally needy.
[Here i ponder some difficult personalities over the years and try to imagine them in the set.
I have a muttering about "integrity" about the name, and i've managed that for myself by suggesting it's the book of our lives.
I heard from Friends from the California meeting of a relationship triangle that has formed, apparently without the consensus of all three folks. It sounds like it's been a challenge. I may ask one or two of the members of this meeting whether anything like that has been handled. It's this sort of issue where the not-professional laity of unprogrammed Quakers comes up short: how do you provide pastoral support and minister to the whole community as well? So glad it's not my knot to be dealing with.
I think my reticence about expressing myself in panentheistic terms is about equal in both communities. It helps (compared to pagan Quakers i know) that i am comfortable with a beatitudes focussed understanding of Christianity and also comfortable with some metaphorical use of the traditional narrative. (To be explicit, I can use Advent waiting and Easter "risen" language to express some of my experience. I'm not comfortable with "my cross to bear.") From talking with Christine, i think i am safe in describing myself as postmodernist in theology, with belief that That Which Is can never be captured in one consistent system of thought.
There's an earnestness and formal quality to the California meetings i've attended that i think holds to the FGC streams of Quakerism. I wonder how much of the behavior is due to so many convinced Friends? And so many attenders? And, given the universalist streak, a worry that the distinctiveness of Quakers must be preserved?