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)

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.


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.


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.

Britain Yearly Meeting Gathering

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!

Yearly Meeting Gathering – Afloat

There is a narrow-boat called Dreamcatcher berthed at York which has come from Godalming by canal and river.  Today I got to see and travel in this boat with Tony – who I met on the forum, Diane, Lesley and Sophie.

I have had, as I kept telling them, a delightful day.  It is remarkable that people who have never met each other can share so much, have such a great day together and feel so comfortable with each other so soon.

One of the best things is that before we ate our meals we were able to have silence even though we were in public and I really appreciated that.

I am about to go to epilogue.  What a wonderful day.  I had thought that the trips day was not a good idea.  I now think that i was mistaken about that one too!

Britain Yearly Meeting – En-joying myself

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.