To grow and to deepen

Residents walk a labyrinth in downtown Boston during Spring Retreat. Photo credit: Ethan Rye.

June 28, 2022 | Nils Klinkenberg, BHFH Executive Director

Imagine, members who would fight harder for what they chose. Who would lose no battles because they made no enemies. Who would not be discarded and replaced. Attachments could grow and deepen

The fictional Dr. Agnes P. Jurati, in “Star Trek: Picard” Season 2, Episode 9

One of my favorite questions that the Beacon Hill Friends House Residency Committee asks prospective residents is to reflect both on their unique strengths and on their “growing edges” — areas they’re aware of wanting or needing to grow further — that they would bring to community life at BHFH.

I love the reframing in this question: in addition to our contributions, we are all works-in-progress and all have areas in which we could better live into alignment with our values. That’s not necessarily a weakness — it’s just part of the ever-changing frontier of our lives. Reflecting out loud on how we might grow, and working intentionally to do so, is difficult but also somehow more possible when done in community.

As of June 1, I have served as BHFH’s Executive Director for five years. In that time I’ve come to often think about the Friends House as a place where both individuals and our relationships come to grow and to deepen. I think this can be true for everyone whose life touches this institution — whether they move in as a resident, volunteer as a board or committee member, or just attend a single BHFH-run public program.

The growth and depth possible in intentional, welcoming community may be spiritual or personal, emotional or relational. Sometimes we’re aware of it while it’s unfolding, and sometimes it may only become apparent later. I know that I’ve personally grown a lot in my time here — some in ways I set out to, and some through making mistakes (and being honest about them) and working toward repair. 

Holding space for personal transformation, and believing it is possible in the first place, is a core part of what the Friends House is about. I think it’s also part of what makes us a Quaker institution. No matter our personal religious or philosophical worldviews, if we believe in the inherent dignity, worth, and even divinity of each individual — “that of God” in every person, as Friends say — then we can believe in the potential of profound individual growth and change.

In what ways have you grown and found greater depth this year? 

Here’s to boldly going, growing, and deepening where we’ve never gone before, 

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