Volume 5 Issue 3
Another Point of View by Mary Lee Morrison, Clerk, Hartford Monthly Meeting Support and Clearness Committee for Ray Boucher
Loving care is not something that [we] ‘do’ for others but a process that binds us together…Careful listening is fundamental to helping each other; it goes beyond finding out about needs and becomes part of meeting them. Some would say that it is the single most useful thing that we can do. (1994 Quaker Faith and Practice of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain)
It has been a joy to have been part of the Clearness and Support Committee for Ray Boucher since the Spring of 1999. [See Leading or Being Lead] It has been a privilege to see the growth of the African Great Lakes Initiative, as we on the committee have experienced it through his eyes and through communicating with others of the team. In addition we have witnessed Ray’s continual loving concern for the people of Africa and have experienced vicariously the joy that he has felt in his contacts with those in Burundi and Uganda.
It was clear to us from the beginning that Ray felt spiritually called to this work. We on the committee initially were primarily listeners, helping Ray discern his calling to work with the African Great Lakes Initiative, asking questions which we felt might help him further clarify his leadings. Later, we were grateful for the communications he sent us by e-mail while he was in Burundi, in August of 1999 and later, on his return to Burundi and then to Uganda in February of 2000. Following his return home, we helped to facilitate a festive gathering of folks from our Meeting, hosting a party, honoring his return and celebrating African culture.
As a committee initially we saw ourselves as helping Ray with the clearness process of spiritual discernment. As time went on, we also took on a more supportive role, helping him with some practical “nuts and bolts” as well. Ray was relatively new to Quakerism last year, so some of us more seasoned Friends were able to help him through the process of drafting a traveling minute from our monthly meeting, alerting him to the importance of Quarterly Meeting contacts and helping to facilitate some interactions with other Quakers in New England who would be interested in learning about his leadings and his work.
It helped that I had been part of the New England Friends Peace Teams Network, begun several months earlier by Elise Boulding, and that I also was in contact with Jim Glading, New England Yearly Meeting representative to the Friends Peace Teams Coordinating Council. We were able to facilitate networking and to help Ray gain contacts throughout New England so that by the time of his return he had scheduled several speaking engagements.
In addition, some of us were able to put Ray in contact with Quaker funding sources both for the AGLI initiative and for a materials aid project he began in Burundi, culminating in receiving funding both from the Obadiah Brown Benevolent Fund and Right Sharing of World Resources.
Networking and communication have been an important part of the ongoing work of our clearness and support committee. Minutes of our meetings were sent out not only to members of the committee, but copies were also sent to David Zarembka, Coordinator of the African Great Lakes Initiative, to Jim Glading and to David Niyonzima, the Legal Representative to Burundi Yearly Meeting, who was working closely with Ray while he was there. In David Niyonzima’s correspondence with me he shared his joy that others here in New England were concerned and interested in what was happening in Burundi. This gave him hope as the situation there deteriorated, culminating in thousands of people being placed in relocation camps.
In conclusion, on a personal note, as with so many spiritual opportunities, the process of serving on Ray’s support and clearness process gave me as much, or more, than I felt I was giving in return. I imagine other committee members feel the same. It has been exciting to watch a spiritual leading flower into tangible peace teams work and to feel, in good Quaker fashion, that our support and encouragement somehow have been shown to be part of the process of “love made visible.”