We have recently returned from a visit to North America, in all the beauty of late spring. We first visited Diana’s brother John, his lovely wife Mary and family on Haida Gwai (formerly Queen Charlotte Islands), in the Pacific, over an hour’s flight from Vancouver. Diana and John share the same birthday, which we celebrated while we were there. It was a good reunion and we relished the fresh air, tasty fish meals, indigenous art and beautiful wild landscape. From there we went to John’s son Sebastian (who is Diana’s godson) with his wife Jessica and daughter Olivia, who made us very welcome to a lovely rural home not far from Seattle. We had some deep and interesting conversations everywhere we went.
Then we went to Portland, Oregon, to stay with three families of dear Quaker friends who gave us a wonderful welcome and an excellent time. There was much to share and explore with them, with the current issues in US and British society. We crossed the continent to our son Graham, Rachel, and our grandson Charlie, who has grown from a boy to a man since we last saw him. It was good to relax, swim and eat good meals with them. Our final stay was with Allen’s Neck Quaker Meeting in South Massachusetts, whom we join from home every week for worship and a writing group. Our trip home was interrupted by finding John had lost his passport! To our surprise and relief the British consulate in Boston issued an emergency one within 12 hours, a seat was found on the next plane, and John got home less than 24 hours after Diana.
It’s impossible to do a trip like this without feeling guilty about our impact on the atmosphere and climate! We can only plead the importance of family ties, and the fact that advancing age makes it unlikely that we will ever make such long journeys again. We were conscious at each stop (except Graham’s) that we were probably saying goodbye to people important to us whom we shall never see again.
In Britain we have given two teaching courses at Quaker centres. The first was the annual “Experiencing Shakespeare” week at Charney Manor, with our dear friend the actor Bidi Iredale. This year’s plays were King Henry VI Parts II & III, which sounds unpromising—but we were amazed at the political insights and relevance to today, and it was fascinating to watch the emergence of Shakespeare’s true poetic voice in the text. The other was a retreat at Glen-thorne Quaker Guest House called Music as Spiritual Nourishment. We had lovely weather, great music graced by birdsong and heard at a leisurely pace with long silences in between, and plenty of time to enjoy the marvellous scenery—John did a 5-hour walk one afternoon.
At home we are welcoming the chance to go to theatres and concerts once more. We’ve enjoyed some memorable music and ballet this year. Looking back over the past two years, we realise we’ve been exceptionally lucky in so many ways. We try to make sure that we share our good fortune with other people who have so much less.
We are working on a new book for the Quaker Quicks series, provisionally called Inner Healing, Inner Peace. A draft will be ready by the end of June.
OUR NEWS JUNE 2022
Left: In the Lake District on John’s walk. Right: Some of our friends in the Japanese Garden in Portland.