Sunday came around far too quickly, the rest of the week got lost in the wedding. for that reason I was not as prepared as I normally am, and suddenly realised that I had not printed out the emails I needed for Meeting.
This cut into my ‘preparing heart and mind’ time, but I could have managed if I had not lost my keys under a pile of things which we brought back from the wedding, etc. I literally ran around the house searching desperately for the keys, and then ran to my car. Darn it, I thought, I am going to be late. In my haste I left the milk so called in and bought a pint.
I drove by the quickest route and got there just a little late, but there was no-one there – the Meeting House was shut. There was no way of knowing if we had visitors who had given up on us, or not. I sat quietly for about 20 minutes but then I am afraid I left. I am ashamed to say that I cannot keep Meeting for an hour on my own.
It was when I got home and checked my landline phone that I found that a message had been left on my phone, presumably to tell me that I would be opening up.
Oh, darn it to heck.
(kicks self hard)
Hmm, must dig that song out!
The repercussions of YMG keep on. I had a long chat with someone from our area meeting about how YMG went. I know her vaguely – we are not that close, but it was good to talk and compare notes and to talk about how Lancashire Meeting move to continue the good and inspiring work of YMG.
I seem to have been on the phone a lot tonight. there is someone on the forum that I spoke to on the phone for the first time today. Tina is a lovely person and we chatted for a long time. I hope we meet soon.
Then mum rang and we passed the time of day. Three phone calls and hardly any evening left.
I am on a park and ride scheme at the hospital and I surprised our minibus driver this evening playing his guitar. He is practising for a gig. It reminded me of when I was in a band and I told him about Gordun Bennitt and how I missed part of the experience. The high you get from coming off stage just cannot be bottled! I don’t miss the lugging of equipment and setting up and tearing down. I don’t miss the petty arguments about ‘our musical direction’ or whether someone is pulling their weight. I don’t miss the bad rehearsals. I do miss the cameraderie, the sharing of something special when you create; the shared looks between muscians as they work in harmony (especially literally – I love harmony!) I felt so in tune – again literally – with the other bandmembers. I felt confident about my singing, and my writing. It was a good time, mostly.
I wonder how Liz, Kev, Craig and Richard are doing.
I am glad that though I am not making music these days that other people still practice and apparently want to make music because of the love of music and not just as a get rich quick scheme.
We all held hands and sang softly.
What a magical experience this was. After the experience of the minute and all the other things, this was in some ways the culmination of the week, a gentle taking of leave from F(f)riends old and new.
As we came out of the show organised by Majk and walked towards the bridge we could hear soft voices singing. We took our places in soft rain and joined with the singing , though we didn’t know the words. The song was a canon, a round, and it drifted across the water so that from
Holding hands around the lake at twilight
different parts of the lake we heard different lines. Though I didn’t know it, I was soon able to sing a couple of lines. No one sang loudly – softness seemed instinctive. The song was (I Googled it):
Building bridges between our divisions.
I reach out to you, will you reach out to me.
With all of our voices and all of our visions
Friends we can make sweet harmony
Then the balloons were set off and drifted up into the night sky and eventually burned up. It felt like the end at that point, and I suppose it was in some ways. The Meeting for leaving was different – it was very much a girding of the loins for the next piece of the work – the bringing the Spirit of the Meeting out to our own local Meetings.
I didn’t get to epilogue.
The phone rang just as I was about to set off and by the time I had finished the call it was too late.
As it happened, I am glad – a Friend had need of a pen, and if I hadn’t been in my room I wouldn’t have been able to help.
Sometimes things seem to be a hindrance but instead they turn out to be a blessing in disguise. My back hurts which has slowed me down – but I needed to slow down in order to get the most out of YMG. I felt that I was walking at the perfect pace with Tony and Diane, and I have had time this evening to consider my actions more than I might have done if I had been able to rush around.
Time is what I need most – time to reflect and to worship on my own.
I am forced, then, to be in my room and will get an earlier night than I planned, but oh (she yawns) I need an early night!
This morning I told myself that I was going to put behind me all the worries I had and start enjoying myself. I went down to breakfast and there were several of us, which was very pleasant. I was delighted to be able to arrange a lift into the campus, as my back was really bothering me, even though I had taken painkillers.
We joined Meeting in session and listened with interest to Meeting for Sufferings report. There were three projects which we heard about (as examples). The Friends of the Family project works with families in deprived circumstances, and the work they were fascinating, but the one that really engaged me was the one that works with asylum seekers.
Whilst in silent worship today I was suddenly aware of joy in being with so many Quakers. The thought that came into my head was that I was en-JOY-ing myself, and perhaps that was OK. Meeting is a source of joy and joy is so powerful.
Next was the forum discussion group. I had been looking forward to meeting people that I had spoken to on the forum, and I have already spoken to Kath, Peter and Tone, but had not met Alice or Jo. Both were there today and it was truly delightful to meet them and also Alice’s daughter, who played hide and seek with my chocolate bar. (a lovely child!) I think Alice was mortified, but I really had forgotten how inquisitive children are at that age.
We really need some seasoned Friends to use the forum, in order for the forum to reflect a more Quakerly viewpoint and this was one of the key points that came out at the forum discussion group.
The committed relationships session had six members relating the stories of their relationships, and I found myself appalled that we as Quakers have not challenged the fact that same-sex couples do not have the same right to enjoy a religious ceremony as part of their wedding that opposite sex pairings do.
What seems to me to be far worse is that we do not record the commitment ceremonies as weddings in our documentation. This is disgraceful. It is both dishonest and unequal – two testimonies broken at once!
I had intended to meet Jo for tea but the break did not really happen so I stayed on until the response group – and took part in that.
I think Anne would be surprised to find me so silent – I am not speaking much in the discussions, and have no intention (unless led, but I doubt I will be) to minister. I am in listening mode.
After home group I wandered back to base and started to cook. Kath said she would eat pasta and so I prepared to cook. Majk came in with some veg and we had a meal fit for Quakers with gooseberries and yoghurt for afters. Wonderful. I am so happy, not just that I am not eating alone, but that I can share time with such lovely Friends.
I made the decision to drive to the hall tonight – I didn’t think I could cope with walking. I was looking forward to the Swarthmore lecture, I was pleased to hear that Peter had been a member of Blackpool meeting – I must ask if anyone knew him. One of my housemates fell asleep – we are all tired it seem s- during the lecture, and I was finding it difficult to concentrate due to my backache, which was causing my leg to twitch alarmingly.
I have found myself sauntering along today, doing things leisurely, and getting much more out of everything, instead of rushing as I did yesterday. I wandered round the bookshop, bought a fairtrade bar of choccy to replace the one that Alice’s ‘Friendling’ found and devoured and then saw Sally from Morecambe, so went and had a hug and chat with her. I am en-JOY-ing myself, going where them Spirit leads. I am so much happier.
good night, sleep in Light.