“April is the Cruellest Month…”

Blog by Ron Petersen, QHCHQ Steering Committee member

April 2022

April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

Early Spring Crocus in Snow

So opens T. S. Eliot’s poem “The Waste Land”. As I begin work on the blog entry I agreed to do for this website, April has not quite arrived, and some spring rain to stir our dull roots seems like an appealing alternative to the current half-foot of snow and temperatures in the teens. I had planned to visit our home at 28 Ames because being at CI would help bring focus to this post, but it looks like that will have to wait another day or two.

On Friday, April first I stopped at CI for a visit. It was a typical spring day in Western New York, cold and blustery with on and off rain. The work to convert the back corner of the property into a patio appears to be about half done and the rear stairs are gone, perhaps we can come up with and improved design to replace them.

Back patio area nearing completion.

The railroad tie that used to mark the end of the driveway was laying across our planting in the front yard, so I moved it off the plants and rested it on some stones for now. There is a band of orange surveyors’ tape around that huge tree across the street, so I think maybe they are planning to remove it. It’s probably older than the institution by at least a century. I took a walk and didn’t find a lot of signs of spring, but there was a lot of activity around Bestor Plaza. I was surprised by how little contracting activity was going on, maybe April 1st is a contractor’s holiday!

the iconic Bell Tower at twilight

I walked down to the Belltower and checked out the planting work around there. Not much activity yet but I think the native restoration work will succeed. The lake was clear of ice but there was a strong wind out of the north and the shore was being pounded with waves running almost a foot high.

I’ve taken some time to peruse the schedule and activities for the CI 2022 season, and it looks to be an exciting blending of what affects us collectively and opportunities to reflect on our personal experiences and how we are shaped by the world. Week two explores reconnecting with the natural world and should provide an opportunity to acknowledge this very direct path to knowing the Divine. Most of the weekly themes tie directly to how we, as Quakers, experience our lives in this culture and how we are being called to act and interact with it. Hopefully at Quaker House, we will be be able to provide our guests with access to these dialogues and also opportunities to explore more deeply.

Like so many aspects of our lives, the process that drives our work at 28 Ames seems to be rooted in that blend of memory and desire Eliot alludes to. We all have long histories with CI, as residents, visitors, attenders of the summer Meeting for worship, volunteers, advisers, contractors, the list is long, and now, with one challenging season behind us we have newer and more focused memories to help us find our way forward.