Centre to Centre
by Alison Williams
The Centre to Centre group which meets in London began in 1984 as the then Teilhard Centre’s contribution to the Maria Assumpta Sisters’ celebration of the Week of Prayer for Peace.
John Woodcock, Secretary of The Teilhard Centre, designed the format with teilhardian principles chiefly in mind but was also indirectly influenced by Quaker methods through his membership of the Braziers Park community in Oxfordshire.
For over 25 years, we have followed the same basic procedure. We each pour a glass of water for the person on our left and a candle is lit. We sit quietly until someone feels moved to speak and brings the candle toward them. Thereafter we either speak or pass clockwise, leaving some silence between contributions. In the first round no one interrupts to question or comment; that is reserved for a second round. When everyone has had the opportunity to speak and we are ready for general discussion, we put our hands on our knees to indicate that.
John was very interested in “the next step” for human evolution and hoped that meeting in this way would facilitate the right sort of relationships. The group’s name came from a phrase toward the end of Teilhard’s The Human Phenomenon; in the translation best known at the time, we must make contact “centre to centre and not otherwise”.
Membership of the London group has changed over the years with three of us still there from the earliest days. Our meeting place has changed too: since 2006 we have been hosted by a member in West Kensington. We try to meet monthly and each speaks about something which has moved, interested or concerned them. Topics vary widely across areas of science and religion, social and political affairs, economics, the future of the planet and personal experience. We understand Teilhard and others inspired by him in our own ways and don’t speak of him directly a great deal, but interest in him brought us together.
John hoped for something more intensive and structured but what the Moving Spirit has produced in us is a free flow of exchange among people of quite diverse interests and backgrounds. Groups need to be small; should ours grow beyond 6-8 we would split and seed another elsewhere. The original Teilhard Association in this country began in the 1960s with study groups reading his books. Perhaps now is the time for people whose interest is sparked by Teilhard to come together “centre to centre” and see where they are led.
For further information, contact:
Alison M Williams,
11 Wilberforce House,
119 Worple Road,