Patapsco Friends Meeting Interchange Reports

Fall 2014 Interchange

Annual Session 2014 photograph by Nony Dutton

Patapsco Meeting enjoys an annual retreat planned by a committee or group within the Meeting, and this year’s retreat was a refreshing exploration of meditation as a spiritual practice. Thoughtfully planned by members who meet periodically to share meditation before Meeting, we learned about different kinds and applications of meditation from speakers within and beyond the meeting. After viewing the powerful documentary “The Dhamma Brothers,” about Vipassana meditation in the prison system, we learned about Vipassana meditation. A practicing Buddhist spoke to us about “staying present in difficult relationship interactions.” Our newsletter editor followed up by inviting us to write for our meeting newsletter about our meditation practice, and several of the men in the South Mountain Fellowship, who live at the prison in Hagerstown, submitted powerful articles. One wrote: “Today, I use meditation to reduce the tension, anxiety and stress of penal life. It clears my thinking and I become less angry towards people who have disappointed me and physically hurt me in the past.”

Many meeting members read “The New Jim Crow,” an experience that, combined with our prison ministry, has led to a deep commitment in many members to contribute to prison reform. A group of Friends continues to meet monthly to seek the way forward. Others of us have joined an alliance of organizations led by members of Annapolis Friends Meeting that is working on prison reform in Maryland and plans to work with legislators toward change.