I have taken on a new project since I retired from twenty-five years of teaching on June 12, 2014. A psychologist friend and I got a $10,000 grant to gather an Oral History Collection of Peoples Temple and Jonestown survivors and family members. It has been a deeply meaningful project for me already. I have interviewed and recorded Oral Histories from five good friends. My Peoples Temple family is a connection I treasure with people of every background. In interviews with just these five, I have recorded how this diverse group came to Peoples Temple and why they stayed, or why they left. I have interviewed people who are black, white, gay, straight, and Berkeley radicals to Ohio high school graduates. I have more interviews coming up in the next few weeks.

I was at a session the other night with fellow Quakers. One person mentioned how special it was to be in a group as intimate and connected as us. I feel rich beyond my wildest dreams to have Peoples Temple members, Quakers, and my family, as my most cherished partners.

This closeness is not merely frequency of sharing the same space. It is a merging of our insides on a different, deeper plane. Our guts just seek each other out. Certainly with Peoples Temple folks, our common trauma and recovery has made us friends to our very core. With my fellow Quakers, this common essence is a commitment to the beliefs we share – integrity, peace, harmony, activism, simplicity, and more. Both our messages and our warm silence during Meeting cement this unity. Even our animated and deep discussions that some would call “arguments” bring us closer to knowing each other and add depth to our relationships. I especially like those times, since it clears up the mystery of what a person might really be passionate about, or curious about. It is just one more way for us to get to know each other.

I do believe that life is very busy, so busy that we can hardly keep up with the schedule. But, it loses its value or essence if we don’t take time out to nourish ourselves and those we love. I am surrounded, in my life, with those I love.

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