Thirty minutes of relaxation

Tonight’s walk was just thirty minutes long.

Every night on our beach is different, tonight there was a faint smudge in the cloud cover that showed where the moon was.  Visibility across the bay was very good though, and we could see the red lights on the wind-farm over near Formby and two lighthouses rather than the usual one.

Unlike last night it was almost silent – we whispered so as not to break the mood, and I was just about to comment on how quiet it was when a man accidentally set his own car alarm off.  The sea was just visible; it was too early for high tide.

I suddenly noticed that beloved and I were walking in step – rather like two police officers ‘proceeding’ as Terry Pratchett would say.

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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.

Sunday, lovely Sunday

I have been telling myself all week that this week I will make it to Meeting for Worship.

It is the first time I have driven since I left work ill, apart from a trip to the allotment, which isn’t that far and was in no real traffic.  My main concern is that my leg would twitch if I held the clutch down, which could cause an accident.

I got up a little earlier than usual time, but everything I normally do took much longer to achieve.  I didn’t get through all that I normally do on a Sunday, and still only just got there in time.  By the time I got there I was in pain, although I had taken a precautionary painkiller, and I realised that there is no way I am ready to go back to work if I can’t even get there without difficulty.

I had prepared all the paperwork last night as this was also the first time that I would be doing my new job as ‘correspondent’, and found myself nervous about this, as well as excited to be at Meeting again.

It was lovely to see my fellow fFriends when I walked in.  There was a new attender at the Meeting who I had been told about and was keen to meet, and two visitors from Cumbria.

I found it hard to ‘centre down’; to focus, this morning, possibly due to the excitement and pain.  There was no Ministry today, so it would have been a silent Meeting (but for the people outside who were shouting at each other and the person who had chosen today to fill a skip presumably whilst renovating the flats – I found myself blessing them anyway). Above it all was the sound of the seagulls, several different types.

I found myself drawn to considering how hard some people find life, and why.

The people who were shouting seemed angry with each other.   I know I occasionally shout, but I find I don’t do it that often now.  If I find myself shouting,  I try to stop to wonder why I feel that I am not communicating.  The classic joke about English people is that if we cannot speak the language we try it in English and if they don’t understand, we just repeat what we said, only louder. Such ‘jokes’ are based in fact.  The street where our Meeting house is located is a street made up of religious buildings (we have a Synagogue, a temple, several churches and chapels and the Salvation Army citadel) guest houses, and large houses, mostly converted into flats.  I was thinking that these shouting people might have been on holiday, in which case they were not having a good time; how sad that they had come all the way to Blackpool to have a row.  Of course they might be occupants of the flats, in which case I did not envy them; few of the flats in the area are what you might call ‘luxury apartments’.   We used to live in a flat in a similar area and were kept up at night by drunken revellers and drunken arguers on a regular basis and I know what a toll it can take on you – losing sleep is not good for the soul, I find.

The person who was filling his skip so noisily (not that it is ever possible to fill one quietly), had chosen Sunday to do it.  Often the landlords of the area run their landlord business whilst holding down a more regular job.  Hard work and enterprise are to be applauded but I wondered what the motivations were.  I have never been a particularly materialist person, so  I  cannot see the attraction in working all hours just to make a little more money.  To have one home (and enough to cover the bills) is enough for me, and that is rented.  My landlord, who lives downstairs, is presumably renting out this part of the property because he does not need the whole of the house.  I am not sure if he bought the house with the idea of making extra money from the flat or not, I simply don’t know.

I did once have several jobs at the same time, and worked many hours (I found it exhausting) but that was when my hubby was taken ill and so I needed to work all those long hours.  I wouldn’t have the motivation to do it if it was for more than bill paying, but then my interests do not include posh cars or fancy holidays.  I am fairly content with what I have, most of the time, though the financial past continues to haunt me.

Anyway I felt so lucky to be in a peaceful quiet place with good people, even if I could not somehow make communion with the Spirit at the time.

Later I started to feel the connection and then, just as I was getting into the Meeting, Barrie stood up to close the Meeting.  Sometimes an hour of silence is too long, today it was too short.

I forgot all the protocol, didn’t welcome the visitors and launched headlong into my announcements, stuttering like an actor with stage fright.  Next week I will do better.

The fellowship at the end of the Meeting was precious; I instantly took to our new attender, and we all sat for an agreeable time, chatting, and remembering other Friends.

I don’t think I realised, before I started on my spiritual path, how important the other travellers are.  With their support and love, you know that the way will be easier, and it is good to know that you too have something to offer.  I have never yet met a fFriend that I could not get on with.

One of my offerings is to be the Meeting  ‘hugger’.  Some people live alone and can miss the touch of another person.  My hug is my way of thanking them for being there, of appreciating them.  Of course, I love hugs too.  I worry though, that one of our members is feeling so fragile now each time I hug her, I worry about her and hold her in the light.  She says she is weary at the moment, but she does so much, always has, for our Meeting.

As I drove home I tried not to feel sorry for myself, because I ached so much, and was annoyed that I am not doing quite as well as I tried to convince myself that I was.  But I consoled myself  by driving along the prom so that I could see the sea.  It was quite busy for a wet Sunday, and there were a couple of drunken people out already (at lunchtime!), of course it is the first weekend of the illuminations.

I was too pained to take my usual thirty second detour along our own front, much quieter and nicer.  When I got back I went to bed with two strong painkillers.  I got up feeling a fair bit better, so my recovery time is decreasing too.