Britain Yearly Meeting Gathering – Monday

Last night I was feeling really fed up. I was tired, a little lonely, stressed about having still not got an internet connection and worried about the amount I was spending.

This morning I felt more positive. I rang the computer service and they were sure that they could fix the problem if I took the notebook to them (up by the supermarket – a long walk with a heavy bag again). Once I got there it was sorted in no time, it was simply a matter of knowing their settings, so I am now typing this on my own notebook in my bedroom.

Then, knowing that I would be late for the start of the session, I went to find the worship tent. Set by the side of the lake it is a tranquil and lovely place, and I could have sat there all day. I will return, but not tonight. Then to business, refreshed and calm and in the right frame of mind to prayerfully take part. I arrived, as I had planned, during a break, and then took my place in the hall in time to hear the reports of Trustees and also Stewardship committees.

It was followed by the introduction to committed relationships: a thoughtful and moving talk by (oh, I need to make better notes) a father of four. I am looking forward to the rest of this subject.

This time I queued for my lunch of soup (with a mere ten minutes to eat it) – my sandwich having been squashed into in-edibility by my laptop, etc.

The next session was purely for personal interest. The geek I am could not resist a session on the new Quaker org website. It was being presented by Peter, who I have been talking to online re the forum, so I took the opportunity to grab some time with him. He gives good Hugs!

Next we had another introduction to ‘creating communities’ – given by a female speaker in front of some interesting photos of Yorkshire. I confess to getting a bit lost at one point – I think I was concentrating too much on the photos and the screen – voice recognition can be funny at times – and not listening to what was being said. I was also very tired and in the five minutes of silence at the end I very nearly nodded off.

I was naturally concerned then that I would not make it through the response group and home group, but strangely by the end of the response group I was wide awake. I found myself in a group of five with me being the person with the longest membership or attendance, and actually sharing something profound.

Home group – well, it isn’t going well, I think.

I had intended to go back but my neck and particularly my back are painful tonight – down to carrying that big bag round today, I think. The Jazz sounded interesting, after the stewardship one, but I am not up for it. I was invited for a beer, but not on painkillers, I don’t think!

Britain Yearly Meeting Gathering – Sunday

What a day!

I got up too late for any of the larks activities – unsurprisingly, I should not have expected to.   Nevertheless, I had expected too, so I was dissapointed in myself.

Meeting for Worship

I went to Meeting for Worship which was amazing.  One of the things that has impressed me most was the way that meetings start. In Quaker circles it is known that when one person lifts an arm, silence is required and others then lift there arms in response and go quiet. To see that happen in a room of well over a thousand people is impressive in the extreme. I found that there was a little too much Ministry in MfW, and some gaps between Ministry could have been longer, but some of it was inspiring. I came out feeling exhilarated.

Connecting to the Spirit

This was a truly inspirational talk given by Rachel ? (I think, but am not sure) who talked animatedly and with humour. She said that Jesus is reported as being pressed by crowds and his disciples are all about him and it says Jesus sat. She explained that often we have to take action without thinking and that we sometimes need to sit and take stock, just as Jesus did. She also talked about being inspired and being inspiring. She really is an excellent speaker.

Practical stuff

I thought now would be a good time to go shopping for the food I needed – how wrong could I be? The supermarket was overpriced, understocked and with a queue that proved that many Quakers had clearly made the same assumption. Not only that but it was even further away from my room than the other venues. I trudged (literally!) back and was very pushed to grab a sandwich and get back in time for my meeting with my co-facilitator and then for the next session.

Committed partnerships, connecting communities

This was originally a ticket only workshop, but for some reason (rightly) it was opened up, but unfortunately they only had a small room, so there was overspill into the corridor. It was in the form of small groups discussing scenarios which might affect Local or area Meetings. It was interesting and brought out som useful comments.

I have, naturally, been considering this subject very carefully. I am aware that most of the Friends who are taking part in this discussion are fairly clear what should happen and mostly they are of similar mind to me. Some clearly feel though that we should not risk losing our right to hold weddings by challenging the rules on same sex unions. What I am not hearing is much in the way of total opposition to same sex partnerships. Part of me is elated about that; delighted that the Society has moved so far, but part of me thinks that this is because they do not want to discuss it. In making this an argument based on equality we have made it difficult for those who oppose us to even discuss it, however right we are to do so. From a personal point I am inclined to think that those who oppose equality between same sex and opposite sex unions are necessarily homophobic, but I might be mistaken and yet I feel that I won’t know until those people are able to tell us. They will certainly not attend workshops organised by QGLF.

After a shared supper, back at the house when I discovered that my int4ernet link did not work, I walked back to use the internet café, bumped into a few friends and then went for for epilogue. Afterwards I met up with a forum friend and watched ‘The Age of Stupid’ which I both enjoyed and found very useful.

Yet another late night!

Britain Yearly Meeting Gathering – So many Friends

What I have found most surprising so far is the sheer numbers here.  One of the most amazing things was entering the central hall just before the welcoming session – I found it incredibly moving to see so many people in such a large auditorium.  I think my jaw must have been on the ground!

Not only that but I have been bumping into people – not literally but finding people who I have met before:  Friends from Meetings that I have attended before and I was really hoping to meet – and out of all the people here I have met them.  I have already had tea with a couple of people, and am delighted to see them.

The first session was inspiring with presentations by Yorkshire Quakers (with a lovely set of photo slides, some quite humourous) and Young Friends.

Being in such a huge Meeting and waiting on the Divine was an incredible experience.

I am writing this from the ‘internet cafe’ – 6 machines set up in the central hall.  I had to go back to the college to get my netbook for the addresses, but it wasn’t a bad walk.

I am tired now, I am going back and then to bed!  I hope to make larks in the morning.

I am still amazed that everyone, absolutely everyone is so Friendly and smiling!

Britain Yearly Meeting Gathering – I am here!

I arrived, after a great day spent with my family yesterday, to the ‘family’ of Quakers, and what a huge family it is!

I found the college where I was staying and was met by some delightful Young Friends who showed us round to our rooms.  I realised that I am some way from the main buildings – it turns out to be a 20 minute walk to the exhibition centre.  That causes me a slight problem in that I didn’t think to bring a flask and I won’t have time to go back to the room for a tea.  Luckily the welcome pack included a bottle of water which presumably I can top up during sessions, otherwise it will be an expensive do!

Not wanting to carry a great deal around with me, I squeezed my phone, keys and some cash into my neckpurse.

I was slightly worried by the fact that I needed to sort out Internet access.  I was told I needed to see someone at the information desk for that, so I went there but there was a large queue so I went to my first session.

The first session I needed to attend was a facilitators session, which started at 4:00 and went on until 5:30.  It was excellent and I met up with my co-facilitator; we will meet to discuss strategies tomorrow.  I am looking forward to the home groups, if a little daunted by the prospect of facilitating.

When I got back to the information desk I was told that the office which sorted internet access out was closed and wouldn’t open until the morning.  There is a facility for accessing web mail, but of course I could not remember all my passwords and addresses for my blogs, forums and mail which were on my net book – back at the room 20 minutes away.

So far this blog sounds a little negative, but bear in mind I am blogging now, so that has to be a positive note.

Britain Yearly Meeting Gathering – ready, sort of.

Ignore, please, the awful grammar of the title.

Preparation this morning has taken the forms of the ritual of cleansing and parting from my beloved.

I don’t like cross posting normally but the parting  led me to write the following:

I have just waved my beloved off to work. I was dreading the parting – more than a week without him. My love for him has deepened over the years, and my committed relationship to him is much in my thoughts. It has not always been easy – we have had our bad patches, but I am incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful partner. What is of prime importance is, as someone (I can’t remember who) was saying on either radio or TV last night, is that both of us see the future in terms of ‘us’, as a unit rather than two individuals. The key word in any relationship has to be WE not I. That does not mean that one does not think of their own needs and subsumes their personality in a rigid institution, but that one does not think primarily of oneself. In fact, I think it is the opposite, that both partners consider the other over their own needs. If both do that then the relationship grows stronger.

Of course I am, as I said, very lucky in my relationship. I have had relationships with both genders that have not been so good. It is not so easy when your partner suffers illness or mental difficulties or addictions. I have never been in a physically abusive relationship and yet I have seen the results of it. I am not of the opinion that divorce should not be allowed but that people should be enabled, supported or even educated to work at rewarding long term relationships.

Last night I ‘said goodbye to my sea’ – we went down to the shore to see the high tide.  It seemed higher than I have ever seen it – blown along by the wind, but it surely reached higher than it normally does for a tide of that height.  It is spectacular when it is like that, the spray crashing against the prom.  It is strange that you can feel the change when the tide turns.  Beloved said that before it turned it seemed angry, and I said it felt calming afterwards.  We surprised the neighbour coming back at a quarter past one: who had let her dogs out for their final mooch around the garden before she slept.  I reckon they may have woken the neighbourhood up.  I can’t understand why so few of our neighbours go down to see the sea at high tide, even if it is very late.

Now I really should get on.  I need to take my mouse for my netbook, which means that I won’t be able to come on here again.  I joked with my beloved that the last thing I packed would be the mouse.  He was not surprised.  Oh, I am such an addict.  I don’t let the ‘addiction’ get in the way of life though.

See some of you on Saturday.

Britain Yearly Meeting Gathering – almost ready

I have done it: I am ready – almost.  I have two suitcases and two handbags, surely that is far too much?

I haven’t done the reading that I promised myself I would do, which I am disappointed about, I suppose I should be doing it now.  😉

I have been too busy reading stuff on the website and the documents in advance – which is OK, but I had hoped to read the epistles. It might be my bedtime reading, I have started them – and very interesting they are too.  I just never found the time – I don’t know where it goes.  Sometimes I allow myself to think that I have far more time than I in fact do.  I estimate that for example, sorting out repeat prescriptions will take about half an hour all told, and then everything is rushed when I find that it takes much more than an hour. It only takes ten minutes extra on each of six actions means a whole hour out!

I didn’t realise, or perhaps I just didn’t take in that the *whole* of Wednesday would be free.  I am not sure what i will do.  There is the hope that Tone from the forum will still be up for a cruise.  I can’t wait to see his boat (Dreamcatcher) for real, having followed his journey and seen the pictures on the blog.  If I have spare time I might go to the Minster or the Roman baths, as I have an interest in things Roman.

I have looked at the map and know how I am going to get there, and have figured out where I have to go when I arrive.

Of course I have tomorrow evening to read too, when I stay at my son’s.  Tomorrow is a busy day too – what with collecting my mother, visiting my sister  (it is her  birthday tomorrow too) and going for ‘high tea’ at a lovely cafe to celebrate my son’s birthday.

I think I may have focussed on getting ready for YMG at the expense of preparing for my family responsibilities this week. 😦

Writing lists

I feel that I really should pack for YMG but I haven’t started yet.  Hubbydear says I should leave it until I am ready to go, put everything in the same place  then get the cases out.  I feel he is right so I am making lists.

I cannot decide whether to stay on my diet whilst I am away, to allow it to be ‘modified’ but still eat healthily in the main, or to abandon it altogether.  I think the middle ground is most sensible.

I started reading the epistles – very interesting, and I want to do some more reading today.  I have my timetable sorted – using an excel spreadsheet and google calendar in unison.  Being the geek that I am I have got my netbook ready – ran the updates and copied the documents I need across.

I need to get on now – the laundry is next on my list!