From Four Quarters’ beginnings in 1995, children have been a very important part of everything that we do, and in fact, are why we exist. Children are truly our bridge to the future, and any organization that fails to take the child fully into its loving embrace has failed at its core.
It is important that we all take responsibility for the children, for we all have a role to play in nourishing their growth. As parents, and especially those of us who through choice or circumstance do not have children, we hold them closely, the better to watch them grow, stretch and change as reflections of our own best hopes.
Children are Loved, Cherished and Free at Four Quarters. We do not charge for children under 16, and we subsidize their Parents’ Memberships too, but that’s just the beginning. Children are genuinely welcomed here and we make room for the fact that they are kids. Screaming on little peg legs through a Moon Service Circle, plotting rebellion at the Coffee Dragons or dancing 'til they drop at the “Childrens’ Hour” that launches our evening drum circles.
My name is Coriander and I have been going to 4QF since I was about three. I'm now 16 and this is the 16th year of raising Stones, so I'm as old as the Stone Circle! Four Quarters has affected my life in so many ways it is hard to find a starting place, but I guess the most important things have been learning responsibility, valuing community and having a spiritual home.
Because at Four Quarters people value responsibility more than age, I have become more involved through the years, starting with lighting candles, getting involved in ceremonies, helping take the Stones off with the crane and working with concrete, etc. My first memorable experience was when I was eight; they were doing an altar walk, but the Fairy Cairn was not on the walk. I loved the Fairy Cairn and thought it was important that it should be included, so I told Kailin, the Church President. She said that it would be on the walk, if I could take care of it. She gave me the responsibility to set it up and keep an eye on the candles. The fact that I was not just allowed to help, but really encouraged was a different experience. They treated me as a responsible person and didn't dismiss me as a little kid.
Dripping from a refreshing swim in Hemlock Hole, I sat on the thick branch of a tree overhanging the water, watching my kids playing with the other children. The sun was shining down through the Hemlocks, turning everything a shimmering green and gold. Having brought down our raft and pool toys, the children were climbing on, under and over them, playing some game of "sharks" that they had just made up. The drone of cicadas was punctuated by the sounds of their laughter. Somehow a frisbee had gotten tossed to the adults in the water and it was now flying about. No... make that two frisbees. A few other folks were laying on towels around the edge of the stream enjoying the warm sunshine. Off in camp I heard someone start up an impromptu drumbeat and then someone else joined in. I thought to myself, that if anyone needed an image of Eden, then this was it. Laughter and sunlight and music.
From our inception in 1995, Four Quarters has always seen children as our bridge to the future. If you are in the business of building Stone Circles, you learn to think in the long term.
And we feel it is important that all of us take responsibility for the children, for we all have a role to play in nourishing their growth. Both as one time children and as parents ourselves. Especially important at Four Quarters are the contributions of our Gay and Lesbian Members, and others who by choice or circumstance do not themselves have children. For they are the Aunts and Uncles of our extended family, and theirs is an honored part of our tradition.
In our early years, we always maintained a large children's care and programming track at Four Quarters, and it was well received. But as time went by the number of children at our gatherings increased while their attendance in child care decreased. It seemed that as we grew and evolved the community of Members and Guests were naturally taking on these responsibilities, far better than we ever could.
And so a phenomena was born that has since been named "The Kids Tribe." They bound through the woods and always seem to know who has the hot dogs.
We have been here long enough now, that we have seen the chubby child grow into adulthood. We have married the couple that met at a Drum Circle and then passed their new baby through the Mother Stone... and into the arms of our community. And that child now plays and runs in the sunlight of the High Meadow.
In a few more years to learn and love for themselves; and take their own place in the Web of Life.
Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary190 Walker Lane Artemas PA 17211 USA 814-784-3080 firstname.lastname@example.orgIncorporated in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as an InterFaith Non-Denominational Church, Monastery and Spiritual Retreat Center. All donations fully tax deductible as allowed by law. PA EXMP 75-538-546 FED EIN 25-1853964© 1995-2013 The Church of Four Quarters™, Four Quarters™ and Four Quarters Farm™ Free use of text expressly granted for all non-profit purposes; unchanged and with attribution to Four Quarters. All other rights reserved.