What is available to support an individual Friend at a stuck point in their journey, or facing a major decision?
Clearness meetings were developed in the early history of Friends. Their initial purpose was assisting individuals make a decision about marriage In small communities, often under external pressures, yet with a commitment to a marriage being given ongoing support, the decision had wider ramifications. The clearness meeting process offered the couple a chance to test the viability of their intended relationship, in a way parallel to marriage preparation processes today.
Today, the process has wider application. It continues to be based on the Quaker precept that each of us has the potential to access to the wisdom of an Inner Teacher. The Clearness meeting is about supporting this access. A small number of friends gather with the focus person, and offer a safe, hospitable, open listening environment in which the Inner Teacher may be more readily heard.
Clearness meetings are covered in Q F&P 12.22-12.25
The four paragraphs give something of the history, possibilities for use, and processes of Meetings for Clearness. As with many Quaker processes, communities will have their own interpretation.
The contribution of Parker Palmer
Parker Palmer, an American Quaker, has worked from this Quaker tradition and developed Clearness Committees. These are a component of the Circles of Trust work that he has developed in collaboration with others. Circles of Trust work offers a space for people seeking to renew their spark of vocation, to more fully align their soul and role.
Parker acknowledges the Quaker basis of the Clearness Committee, then carefully elaborates on the process. Reading his article on the process may offer you some important insights into a complex and sensitive process described somewhat scantily within Q F&P.
There is a valuable DVD that describes the Circles of Trust process, and in particular Clearness Committees (in the main body of the DVD, and also in the appendices)
QLA has distributed a copy of the DVD to each Regional Meeting. You should contact the Regional Meeting Clerk to determine where it is kept, and how to access it.
You can purchase a copy of the DVD ( see Parker Palmer’s webpage or Amazon) included in the paperback version of Parker J. Palmer (2009), A hidden wholeness: The journey toward an undivided life. The book paints a much larger canvas about the importance of soul-role alignment.
A personal note from Drew Thomas
I was captivated by the DVD the first time I watched it – for me a powerful and elegant convergence of my understanding of the Quaker process, and my learnings, both experiential and academic, about counselling, career development, and group work. I have attended two Courage to Lead retreats, led some similar work with other groups, and hope to commence further training as Courage to Lead facilitator in 2011. I’m very convinced by and committed to the process. I’m very clear that it is not a process for interpersonal conflict resolution: it’s for conflict, confusion, indecision within.
I look forward to opportunities to work with and beyond friends in this area. My passion is to have this process readily available to Friends across Australia, and carried out in a highly skilled and caring manner.
Dorothy Broom (Canberra RM) and Drew Thomas (SARM) share this passion, and if you’d like to talk about this further – please contact:
Drew Thomas 0488 402 210, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dorothy Broom 0414 692 153, email@example.com