Meeting Room Experiments
by Rosemary Donnell
As you probably know, over the last several months we've experimented with holding our meetings out in the fellowship area at Unity, rather than in the sanctuary. There were several reasons for this trial:
- It might stimulate more sociability. We could serve tea and snacks every Sunday, since people could eat and drink during the program (food and drink are not permitted in the sanctuary). People also seemed to be more inclined to converse before the meetings when not in the sanctuary.
- Setting up the space is faster and easier.
- Different seating arrangements might be possible, which could possibly promote a greater sense of community.
- In the summer, it's brighter and airier.
The clear downsides of the outer room were
- A less sacred atmosphere
- The vinyl floor
Our announced intention was to try it out for a while, then conduct a survey to see which arrangement people preferred.
But as of a couple of weeks ago we were suddenly back in the main hall, and there was no survey. What happened?
Here’s the story: On November 4, John Dilworth, Carole Maurer and I got together to design a survey, which we did. But in the course of discussing the various issues, the question came up of how to control the heat in the fellowship area. In following up on this question, we soon learned that there is no heat there at all.
Carole sent a mass e-mail to the board explaining the dilemma. Russell Hodin responded with an additional concern, reminding us that the lighting in the fellowship hall left much to be desired.
With daylight savings time ending before our next Sunday meeting, and a cold front moving in, we needed to act even before the entire board could voice their opinion. If we continued to meet in the outer space on that coming Sunday, November 6th, we would be meditating in the cold. It would also either be very dark, or we'd be under a full bank of bright florescent lights.
We very much apologize for any concerns that may have been created by this abrupt switch. Unfortunately I was ill that night and couldn’t be there to explain the situation.
Though I don’t like going back on my announcement about the survey, it seems a moot point at this juncture. There really doesn’t seem to be any other choice for now. Yes, I know we’ve heard those stories about the old Zen masters meditating with icicles in their beards; but trying to explain to current and new members why we are meditating in the cold with a heated room next door seems impossible.
Our next board meeting is in January. We will continue to try to find a balance between opportunities for socializing and a space conducive to meditation.