Liverpool SRM Group lunch break was chaotic. In the end it was all sorted out, but it was a wonderful example of having to trust because there was no possibility of control.
The Liverpool Group is one of twins born on the same day as the Manchester Group during a day retreat led by Paul Taylor in 1986. We began with just four Liverpool members and met regularly at a house in Mossley Hill. We maintained a low profile until 1989, when we had our first visit from a monk. Reverend Mugo gave her first public talk at the Friends Meeting House in the City. We were overwhelmed by people wanting to know about meditation and what they should do next, which caused us to become aware of the need for formal instruction.
I shall always remember the first day retreat we organised at the Unitarian Church in Wavetree. We had to move downstairs from the first floor, which was usually used as a children`s games room, on account of Reverend Chusin having got a splinter in his foot. Moving everything over the
It is easy to become complacent with the routine that eventually establishes itself in a group. Order and regularity were greatly facilitated in our group by not having any overhead costs on account of meetings with a monk or otherwise were mostly held in my house. People always knew where to come, sometimes even after years of non attendance. However, when I moved to the Wirral in 1998 the nature of the group changed. Even though I have a suitable room for meditation, it wasn`t possible to use my new home for regular meetings owing to its distance from the city centre.
At first we met on alternate Thursdays at Mike and Marlene Ball`s house on the Wirral and at a Catholic Hospice in North Liverpool. It`s expensive to hire rooms in Liverpool city centre; the cheapest is the Friend`s Meeting House at £11.50 per evening.
Linda Yong, one of our members, suggested we try Saint Joseph`s Hospice, which the priest invited us to use as a place for meditation simply because of the beneficial effects that meditation would have both for the patients at the Hospice and for those who run it. Although we reluctantly had to stop meeting there because of the travelling time, I shall always be grateful to Father O`Leary for his help.
Nowadays we alternate meetings between Mike and Marlene`s and two other group members` houses, both in North Liverpool. The numbers in the group have declined, perhaps because we haven`t been advertising the meetings as much as we used to. However, meeting at different places means that we are all more involved in running the group. It can happen in groups that one or two people end up doing most of the preparation work when there is a regular meeting place. Would be helpers sometimes fear they may do things wrong and leave it to those who are used to it.
Low numbers and whether or not people will return to the group are not issues. More important is that we all do our own practice, in whatever form that takes, in our own homes. If we do that, we can trust that it will have a beneficial effect all round.
I offer this brief history of the Liverpool Group, albeit from my own viewpoint, in the hope that our experiences may be of help to others. In recent years I have spoken to groups outside Liverpool about group dynamics, and have felt this to be of enormous benefit. If anyone would like to ring me for a chat they will be very welcome.
Lynne Heidi Stumpe
Lay Minister OBC
from Now And Zen - January 2000