Listening and Learning

Heading into our fifth month of our first year together in the Abrahamic House, we held a listening circle to check in with each other about where we are and where we’re going.

When we first met each other at the beginning of March, the world, and indeed we fellow strangers, were very different. 

The prospect of quarantining for extended months was not on our radar. Rather, building a new community in our new home with friends we hadn’t met yet was very much on our radar.

We each brought with us different visions and expectations of what this project and our community might look like, and then together, we each, like everyone else in the world, were confronted with a new reality: in our case, before we’d even begun.

And so, after seventeen house dinners, a dance party, a spiritual will writing workshop, a multi-day festival of feminist learning, care packages, film screenings, and media interviews (all virtual), we assembled to listen to each other.

We brewed tea, burned palo santo, and stated our intentions to listen without response or hesitation.

Hadar led us in a meditation guiding our thoughts through the stages of what led us to Abrahamic House, what excited us about it, what has brought us joy and frustration in building it, and what hopes we hold for it today.

Then, as the spirit moved, we each in turn took the “talking stick” (a lighter) and spoke of our experiences.

Though each of our individual experiences has been unique, some common themes began to emerge.

We’ve been learning a lot! But, in very different ways from how we had at first imagined and even from each other.

In one sense, that’s inevitable considering the context of the world we’re living in. How our relationship to this house, our city, and even our sense of freedom to move about as we want has been turned on its head.

But we also acknowledged how much of our learning has been deeply personal. More than acquiring lots of information about lots of different religious traditions, we’ve been digging deeper into our own faiths in order to understand and articulate them better. Our desire to share what we know and love is forcing us to revisit and reexamine what we might have previously been taking for granted.

And, while we agree we share a lot of values, we often come to them from different places. Acknowledging and experiencing the borders of our differences has expanded our perspectives and deepened our understandings of each other and how and why we express our values as we do.

Going forward, we hope to liberate ourselves from the constraints of virtual programming, while continuing to embrace the opportunity to engage a global community. We hope to think more deeply about who we’re reaching out to, and what needs we’re meeting.

Ultimately, we want to slow down. To practice presence and intention in building a strong foundation for future generations of Abrahamic House fellows to flourish.