Quaker Mice

I am spending this week in beautiful Silver Bay, New York, on the western side of Lake George.  There, at a grand old historic YMCA summer camp, the New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) holds its annual summer conference.

I'll be on vacation at Silver     Auditorium, Silver Bay, NY     About Silver Bay, YMCA of the

Quakers are  a “peculiar people” and proud of being so.  But spending time with a whole nest of them coming from around the country and around the world is surely a blessing. 

Many readers are familiar with the drawing of three mice looking at a wedge of cheese and drawing different conclusions as to the shape of the object, based on their positions and perspectives:



Well, when Quakers meet to conduct business they don’t vote or persuade; they share perceptions and senses of what the right thing to do might be, and let it float out there until the entire group is in unity with the right decision.  Folks who have never watched this procedure or taken part in it themselves find it very difficult to understand, but the mouse drawing is as good an entry into it as any.

I just plain like the way Quakers think, how they approach problems.  Here in Silver Bay, or in my small Quaker Meeting in Cornwall, New York, a matter will be raised in a meeting for business and a period of silence will ensue.  Then someone will pipe up and say, in effect, “I see a rectangle here.”  There will be a pause for several minutes, and someone will say “I see a square.”

At that point most folks would see a disagreement.  But Quakers? 

Quakers sense there might be a piece of cheese nearby.

  1. At the mediation training I took in Seattle, 2002, I was told that the modern mediation movement came out of the Quaker tradition. Have you ever heard that? Based on your post describing the ways Quakers make decsions as a group, it would make sense.

  2. Hi, Jeanette. No, I didn’t know that. Do you remember any sources that your trainer used to back up that proposition?

    Thanks for the note!


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