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Central European Gathering of Friends in Niwki, Poland, May 2012

We have met this year in the green and peaceful village of Niwki, near Opole in south-western Poland.

We came from many parts of Europe: from Poland itself, Warsaw, Krakow, Lodz, Poznan, Wroclaw, Zielonka and Opole, from Hungary, Austria, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Ireland, Britain – and one from California, USA. The working language was English; we also had instant translations into Polish and Czech which in fact gave us time for absorbing and reflecting on what had been said.

There was much learning together. We were led in Woodbrooke on the Road sessions over two days by Stuart Masters, on the theme ‘Celebrating the Quaker Way’. We considered the ‘essentials’ of that way, Diversity among Friends worldwide, Quaker Spirituality and Worship, Discernment and Decision-making, Witness and Testimony – and finally we ‘Celebrated’ the Quaker Way. We thought much about the importance of individual spiritual discipline, and how that supports our Quaker community.

We had a session of ‘Sharings’ by individual Friends, and were given a flavour of the FWCC World Conference in Kenya by Richard who had attended. We were pleased to hear news of all the Friends’ Groups represented at the Meeting. We were delighted by the presence of so many from Poland, Warsaw Group and those from the internet group. We are very grateful to the Warsaw Group, formed only in 2010, for their hard work in organizing this gathering, and the welcome they gave us.

For some, the travel to Niwki was long and difficult, but we have felt richly rewarded by our experience in this lovely place, our worship, our learning, and community, including ,as many expressed, a sense of harmony with the natural world (including the cuckoo!) that surrounded us.

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