Meeting oneself

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)

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Goodbye to a Friend

I never heard him say a bad word about anyone.

He was very witty, he had a very dry sense of humour and I often wondered if he meant to be funny, but then I would look at him and see the twinkle in his eyes.  He made me laugh almost every time we met.

He was charismatic.

His positivity was amazing.

He used to read passages from the Bible, and then explain what they meant.  I was inspired by this.  He had a way of making the Bible seem very relevant to me, in a way that few others have done.  I wonder who will do that for us now.

He was dapper – his colour co-ordination was amazing.  I never saw the famous canary yellow suit, but I have heard tales of it.

He was a traveller, forever jetting off somewhere.

He was very private, but fascinating if he ever let anything slip.

I didn’t know how old he was, I was surprised to find out he was 89.  I thought he would go on forever and the accident was a real shock.

He came to Meeting once without his car – it had been stolen.  Some time later it was found, where he had parked it and forgotten.  He laughed the incident off.  It was my first indication that things were getting difficult for him.  There were other signs; getting lost, forgetfulness, but he was still razor-sharp in other ways.

I am going to miss him, we all will.  I will continue to hold his nearest and dearest in the Light.

…And the beat goes on..

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.

More Photos from the week at York.

This is Sophie, the dog that patrols the narrow-boat Dreamcatcher

This is Sophie, the dog that patrols the narrow-boat Dreamcatcher. I had a wonderful day on the canal, as I blogged, but I only have this one photo from the day. I hope to get some more photos from Tony or Lesley.

The exhibition hall (part of the Physics block)

The exhibition hall (part of the Physics block). This is where we spent much of our time - it was where the we met for a cuppa. I wish I had taken a picture of the outside of the Central hall where we worshipped or of the worship tent. I had meant to come back and take a photo of the tent at night when the candles were lit.

A view of a bridge across the lake

A view of a bridge across the lake. The lake was a delight and added to the tranquillity during the busyness of Meeting. The geese, ducks and black swans were always a talking point and everyone seemed to like the signets.

Fringe

The Fringe. I particularly enjoyed standing here and was very pleased that this came out so well, without needing to touch it up or anything.

Britain Yearly Meeting – committed relationships (part 2)

Now that the minute has been accepted I can freely write about it.  The minute can be read here.

On Friday morning there was a large turnout, as to be expected.  We sat quietly whilst the Clerk read out the draft minute.  I was amazed at the beauty of the minute:  the clerks had so clearly discerned the feeling of the Meeting.  There were changes and clarifications but the minute was not changed much at all.

Those who read this blog and are not familiar with the Quaker practice may be surprised to learn that Friends do not vote on such matters – we wait until the meeting is in unity, and the clerks discern when this has happened  and what the feeling of the meeting is.  It is an incredible process and the most incredible thing about it is that it works.  I feel blessed to be part of that process.  As I said later, I have never said more fervently, “I hope so”.  (to quote wikipedia: during a meeting for worship for business, when the clerk asks those present if they agree with a minute, Friends will usually say “I hope so” rather than “yes”. It is meant in the sense of “I hope that this is the true guidance of the Holy Spirit” ‘)

The news was carried to the media somehow (oh, I checked that I had said  nothing in my blog!) and peter Eccles was on radio 4 saying that it was ‘almost certain’ that the word marriage would be used.

So, Quakers now will witness the marriage of same sex couples, in line with our testimony to Equality.  It is, as some Friends said, about time.

Epilogue

We all held hands and sang softly.

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

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.