Chris White, Co-Clerk to Elders of Oxford Friends’ Meeting, has sent the following email to Friends. We reproduce it here for general information:
In the light of the advice from the Government on Monday 16th March, Elders have come to the conclusion that we need to immediately suspend having all further Meetings for Worship in our Meeting House.
Elders will be considering finding other ways for Oxford Friends to worship in unity together over the next few days.
As coronavirus is hitting the headlines, we wanted to reassure you, our visitors and customers, that we take measures to protect you and your group members and delegates. Our cleaning team follows strict procedures and always aims to ensure that we achieve high levels of hygiene and cleanliness in our meeting rooms, kitchen, toilets and public areas. We would like to kindly remind you that we cannot curtail the spread of coronavirus without your help.
Before your meeting or event: If you know or are aware that some of your delegates may be coming back from high-risk areas, ask them to call 111 and follow their instructions. If a delegate lets you know they may have coronavirus (symptoms include coughing, high temperature, shortness of breath), they should call 111. You can find more information on the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
During your meeting and event: In the toilets, we have put signs to remind people about the best way to protect themselves and others from the virus:
Wash your hands with soap and water, or use a sanitizer gel, regularly throughout the day.
Catch your cough or sneeze in a tissue, bin it, and wash your hands with soap.
Some groups and individuals are finding other ways of greeting each other without shaking hands.
If you are looking to start something new, do consider coming along to a Quaker Meeting or broswing our Groups page and see if there is something happening at the Meeting House which may appeal. We also have a notice board in the foyer at 43 St Giles with information about local groups.
Felt Connections between Quaker and Butoh Practice
As the novelist E.M. Forster once wrote, ‘Only connect’. This inspiring injunction has meant a lot to me throughout my life, and even become something of a habit. Today I would like to share with you some of the connections I see between my practice as a Quaker and as a Butoh dancer.
Butoh dance emerged in American-occupied post-war Japan and is still little known in Europe. It is not easy to define, mainly because of its commitment to resisting standard definition and easy categorization. Today though, many of us will be aware of it through the Red Rebels branch of Extinction Rebellion, whose movements and guerrilla approaches are quintessentially Butoh.
To evoke what Butoh seeks to articulate, its two founding fathers, Kazuo Ohno and Hijikata Tatsumi, called it a dance of both darkness and light; one concerned with preserving community in all its diversity, respecting messiness and shadows as well as the light within, and inspiring personal transformation.
Two key elements of its language, silence and a combination of charged stillness and movement, are used to connect with our humanness, move us away from seeing the mind as distinct from the body, and instead see the body as the home of thought and feeling. It is in such ways of seeking for a naked enlivening encounter with the source of our being I find first parallels between Quaker and Butoh practice.
It is also very much understood as a spiritual practice that can serve as a channel for grace: one in which re ec on and experimentation lead to change and fresh perspectives. As Kazuo Ohno put it, ‘and the spirit and the form will take care of itself’. This resonates for me with my understanding of ministry, and the belief each of us has something new and of value to other others.
Finally, I see another connection in Butoh’s expression of deeply engrained, personal, and collective politics. Butoh was from the outset conceptualised as an activist dance form that rejects the ‘bad check called democracy’ (Hijikata Tatsumi). Hence it is often used to call attention to environmental and social issues.
Rather than my explaining more, why not come to watch a performance in Oxford? The group I practice with, Café Reason Butoh Dance Theatre, are performing at Corpus Chris College on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 January 2020. The show is called ‘Tipping Point’ and is a creative response to the threat of climate change. For more details, and to book, please see here, or go the Café Reason website at http://www.cafereason.com/
As you may notice, we are in the process of redesigning our website! Thank you for your patience in bearing with us. Do feel free to get in touch if you have any questions. Email email@example.com
In view of the upcoming Garden Room & Quaker Centre rennovations (learn more about the project here!) and any associated disruptions to the first floor spaces for hire in 43, we are renting out the rooms of our top flat!
For more information, please consult the Room Hire pages of this website or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask about the top flat.
Our own Poems in the Library Group invite you to an open-mike and mince pies festive celebration in the Meeting House from 6.30pm-8.30pm on Saturday December 14th. Bring a poem (preferably not by yourself!) and read it aloud to the rest of us. All welcome! This is a free event with a collection for the Building Fund plus a donation to OxFAP.