Friday, September 30, 2005

20/20 again

Wow! Just picked up my new glasses having got to the point where I hardly bothered wearing my old ones as they were so scratched, grubby (no matter how much I tried to get them clean) and more to the point the wrong prescription (not quite so bad as the wrong trousers (W&G!) but still more of a hinderance than a help!)

Walking along the road it felt like I could now see every last leaf on the trees and bushes, every vein on them, every petal on the flowers - amazing! However this will no doubt mean that when I get home I'll be able to see just how grubby the windows are, how much the carpet needs hoovered and how much cat hair there is on just about everything I own! There is a tick box on the immigration cards asking whether you are bringing in anything wooden or of animal origin... but I don't think they'd be too impressed if I declared my entire rucksack contents on the grounds of cat hair coverage.

So now I am decidedly poorer than I was but the world is no longer in soft focus - in some cases that's a pity but I can always take my glasses off again! Vanity has meant I've gone for expensive rimless specs so it isn't as obvious that I'm wearing them, I don't like the look of me in glasses but prefer the look of everything else with them - I've tried contact lenses but I need eye drops with them and as I won't get nhs prescriptions in Wellington I figured I may as well just get expensive glasses and wear them. As I left the shop I was thinking 'oh well, so much for Quaker simplicity' (they are I confess from a designer range, but not one I'd heard of - altho that probably says more about me than my specs!) but you can't get much more simple in appearance than these, Dame Edna Everage they most certainly are not.

So with my new found clarity of vision I'd better get back to work now my cuppa has finished and hope that with it comes clarity of thought!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

ticking off the days - 2 weeks tomorrow!

I leave Edinburgh 2 weeks tomorrow, a fortnight, 14 days... um, has anyone seen September? I seem to have mislaid it...

Still need to work out just how I'm getting to London - I usually try to avoid making UK internal flights but the convenience of leaving my bags in left luggage at Heathrow overnight is speaking volumes! However I think I'm probably still in credit with the Trees for Africa scheme carbon neutralising all the flights I've made over the last 18months plus my upcoming flight so I reckon I can probably justify it to myself. I've opted for the leisurely start to the journey and go to London the night before so I start the long haul after a long lie and a decent shower rather than the horrendously early start and catlick that would be on the cards if I travelled down the same day. Me no like mornings....

I finally saw the extended version of Return of the King at Simon & Susie's on Sunday!!! Sigh... not convinced about the demise of Sauruman and if you haven't read the book then I can see that the Eowyn/Faramir scene would seem a bit out of the blue but I'll forgive Peter Jackson his tinkering... roll on 'The Hobbit' =) It was just amazing to see the scenery all again knowing it won't be long before I'm back there. Si & Susie have just bought their tickets to come over in Jan/Feb - wahey!!

I'm feeling somewhat in limbo - I've packed almost as much as I can, and I've even managed to sort out my piles of paperwork (I got two file boxes down to one, admittedly fat, envelope!) - it feels like all the big things have been done now and there's just the wee things left (oh and cancelling the gas, leccy, phone...whoops). So I find myself twiddling my thumbs wishing the time away faster - then I actually start to write down all the things I want to/need to do and suddenly 2 weeks doesn't seem very long! (Plasir du Chocolat anyone? I really need to tick that off my Edinburgh 'must do' list before I leave....)

So I suppose I should really get back to my 'to do' list whilst I do still have time.... which reminds me - has anyone else got room to store the Link Group resources box?!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

new toy...

Feeling very proud of myself as I just managed to sign up with flickr all on my ownsome (look we're talking someone who thinks wistfully back to the days of cassette player levels of technology here - stop, go, fast forward, rewind - what more do you need?), it's a fancy photo sharing thing - whatsmore I successfully uploaded some pics from WGYF... theoretically I'll be able to remember how to add new pics in future! If not no doubt Kate or Martin will be getting call on skype to sort me out =)

If you click on the flickr logo thing above it takes you straight there - dead clever or what!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

got it =)

I am now the proud possessor or a nice new shiny work visa in my passport and a plane ticket to Wellington! Wahey!

The visa only lasts until April 21st 2007 but as long as I can get an x-ray proving I haven't contracted TB I can get an extention once I'm there.

The immigration officer wasn't going to give it to me on the spot at first but somehow she changed her mind, and it looks like finally getting my act together with a crb check (criminal records check, needed here for working with children & young people) has paid dividends too as that means getting an extension will be far easier. The thought of trying to get verification done from Wellington doesn't bear thinking about...

I'm sitting in FWCC World Office, Elizabeth Duke is here labeling archives of photos and Bronwyn & Ben (my EMES replacement) were both here this morning so there's a real mish mash of old, current and new FWCC folk! I bumped into Elizabeth in the corridoor in Friends House on my way to get my visa - she's from Dunedin, so I took this as a good sign, then as I approached Euston Station to get the tube there were copies of the free paper for kiwi's in London which seemed like another good sign! These things usually seem to come in threes but if there was a third I missed it... but I'm not complaining.

So, I fly out of Heathrow at 4.15pm on Thusrday 13th October and arrive Wellington 9am Saturday 15th October, going via Los Angeles - sorry Clare & Aimee, Seattle is out this time around. However it does mean I'll be back in London again and will hopefully manage to catch up with those of you I miss this time! =)

Monday, September 19, 2005

got the collywobbles

Well that's how my Granny Willison would have described how I feel right now!

I've got all my pieces of paper, mugshots, passport, train tickets (that was close - they were in my jacket pocket and I nearly left without it...) and now have to try to concentrate for 3 more hours before going for my train to London. At least Emanuele (my italian flatmate) is coming to see me off at the station - he returns to Italy whilst I'm away.

I've tried to work this morning (honest), I've tried the online Meeting for Worship but there was no-one else there and I'm no good on my own, I've found all sorts of things to do to distract me but it isn't working - I'm still as nervous as anything about going for my visa and I haven't even got any fingernails left thanks to the Ashes series!

I'm remembering how Grace had Gen come up the front of the hall with her and just stand holding her hand when she had to speak to us all at WGYF, not to do anything else but be there so she didn't feel alone - as Piglet said 'I just wanted to be sure of you'. Feeling very much in need of someone to be there tomorrow to hold my hand. When Ute gave her final presentation she brought out her piece of vine and descibed it as a talisman, asking do Quakers have such things? Well this one does - my taonga (literally 'treasure'), my pendant from the FWCC Triennial which I have worn ever since and have a tendency to reach for when I need reassurance and reminding of everyone out there. So I'll have that with me and I guess as tailsmen go they don't come much more appropriate for a NZ visa than that!

Oh well, there's nothing else for it, I'd better go and put the kettle on....

Sunday, September 18, 2005

what a difference a phone call can make

I just had a phone call from someone in our Meeting who rang to say thank you for my contributions in the Meeting for Learning this morning. She did the same last week after General Meeting. She didn't need to, and especially today whilst her son is up visiting her from down south. I was really touched by what she had to say.

It reminded me of a discussion I had had with Duduzille from Central & Southern Africa YM - she asked what can those from the financially poorer countries do to help support their Young Friends coming to WGYF? I said listen to them, and share your own experiences of large international Quaker events. Before, afterwards, maybe even email them during. Let them know you are there and are thinking of them, help them with the little things like what to pack, give them space when they get home to cry, to feel that words aren't adequate enough to convey what they had experienced and that it is ok to feel that way, to talk until the cows come home about names that mean nothing to you but everything to them. It doesn't cost much to be there for someone.

Just after WGYF I met someone from the US who dropped in on our Young Friends meeting - not a Quaker herself but a friend of Friends, and who had been a pastor in her church. I was explaining our system of elders and overseers within Britain YM and explaining how being an overseer can be many things and can it can be done by all ages and abilities - some are able to visit the sick, help with shopping, take people out in their car, visit new born babies and all manner of active tasks. Others, especially the more elderly memebers of Meeting can be just as busy as overseers but without even getting out of their armchair - they can send birthday cards to the children, phone people, keep in touch to just say hello, check folk are ok, congratulate them on an achievement or be there to listen when things aren't so great. Nancy isn't an official overseer but a kind of 'everyone's granny' in our Meeting. She didn't have to phone but she did. It was unexpected, unsolicited, and very much appreciated.

I'm very good at thinking 'I should phone so and so....' but not very good at doing it. Realising what a difference the calls from Nancy made to me I should stop worrying about catching people at a bad time/when they are putting the kids to bed/ringing when it is too late and just do it... but not tonight, I need some sleep first!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Autumn leaves

On my way home today I found myself kicking through the autumn leaves already collecting in drifts on the pavement... one of my seasonal pleasures in life!

As I did so I remembered being on the bus to Swarthmoor and Jonathan saying how amazing it was that in a month or so the trees would all look so different and then a month or so later different again and so on through the year. There aren't many deciduous trees in Aotearoa NZ - that is going to take some getting used to! It made me wonder whether I'd miss having the leaves changing as my main markers for the passing seasons - having grown up in a wooded valley deciduous trees have always been my main indicators of the turning of the year and I love each and every season of them. I'm going to have to learn a whole new set of markers, not just my beloved pohutakawa trees flowering! I wondered would seeing Scotland on film bring the same pangs of what I can only describe as homesickness that I feel when I watch something like 'Lord of the Rings' - the next Harry Potter film is due out in November, after the glorious views of Glen Coe and Loch Tummel in the last one anything similar in this next one could well bring a lump to my throat!

For the next 200 yards down the road I was asking myself am I doing the right thing? Then I went into a shop (will this be the last time I'll be buying Jordan Valley chocolate flapjack in Margiottas ready for a train journey?) and when turning round from chosing which box of Scottish biscuits to get for FWCC World Office when I go in next week (oops - sorry if I've spoilt the surprise Nancy!) I found myself facing a stand of greetings cards - a whole rack of Martin Hill images, the kiwi answer to Andy Goldsworthy (if you don't know either check them out - amazing natural sculpture that they photograph and then let nature reclaim). Any doubt fled at speed - lump in the throat, tears welling up, heart pounding - of course I'm doing the right thing, it's where I'm meant to be.

Spiritual Discernment

So where am I now with this discernment business - well about half way through Patricia Loring's Pendle Hill pamphlet 305 'Spiritual Discernment - the context and goal of clearness committees' which I've just been reading in the bath! (if in doubt put the kettle on, make a cuppa and have a soak in the bath... works for me, even if I don't have an answer I feel better)

I'm slowly getting a picture together of what I might be saying tomorrow morning at the Meeting House (but if anyone reading this goes to the Meeting for Learning don't be surprised if I end up saying something totally different...) I got picked to be one of the three panel members because of WGYF and the challenges we faced trying to discern on an international level, by email, phone conferences as well as face to face - over coming not only the usual issues of putting personal wishes to one side but understanding where people were coming from with their different cultural expectations, understanding of terminolgy and issues of sharing this in their second or maybe third language. But also I got picked because of my own personal experiences of discernment/leadings, particularly as described in the previous post.

I've got to fill 15 minutes - where do I start? And where do I stop?!!!

Something I shared with my basegroup at WGYF on the last day has been coming back to me, it is, I suppose, the next step from 'Leadings'.

I arrived at WGYF without any great expectations of it being a life changing experience - after all I'd had one of the those at the FWCC Triennial and lets face it how many of those can you have (or cope with...) in 18 months! My 'mission' (which I had chosen to accept!) with regard to WGYF was to make sure it happened, to make sure it was there for others to have the kind of experience that I'd had, it was for others benefit - not mine. I'd gone there not really expecting to get to many sesions but hoping to somehow get a 'feel' for it all by dipping in and out as time and the administrative needs of the event allowed.

Yet as time went on I was able to take part in more and more of the event - I'd not far off burnt out by this point and thankfully there were others (cheers guys!) who were able to step in and keep things going for me. So I found myself in Deborah's talk on Thursday (audio recording ) hearing her say (far better than I did) many of the things I had said in my talk the week before to Northern Young Friends Summer Gathering (for 11-16 yr olds, where I would have otherwise been as staff were it not for WGYF), about decision making, listening to what G/god/de/ss (pick your own spelling!) is saying to you and much, much more... if you get the chance do listen to it! Yes I had had such a strong sense of calling, I had changed my life dramatically because of it - but WGYF was finally happening, so now what?! Sure I 'knew' I had to go back to Aotearoa New Zealand, but not why.
After a few days, this was really starting to bother me - I kept coming back to 'but why?'. Come on, if I'm not going to get an answer when I'm spending half my week in worship then when on earth am I going to know? A sense almost of panic had started to set in - I felt I 'needed' to know before I left. I needed to know why I was embarking on this next big adventure - sure I was going to live near some very dear f/Friends, and a whole heap nearer than I have been to others which I was really looking forward to. Yes I had all kind of ideas flying around about helping develop work with the Junior Young Friends and so on, but none of these were exactly shouting out as being my next calling in life, 'the' reason for going. I was going to bed asking 'but why? Just tell me why...' and waking up with no answers and too late to grab breakfast before our 8.30am meeting yet again.

It was in the Sunday evening session when Oliver and Colin were speaking that I finally got an answer. To be honest I found their talks the hardest to get anything from, heavily biblical and relying to a certain extent on a knowledge, or at least familiarity with discecting scripture that I'm not used to (it's over 20 years since my last Religious Education lesson which is the nearest I've ever come to bible study and I spent most of the last year of them having flute lessons instead!) Yet as I sat there playing with my nightlight trying not to drip wax on myself or scorch my fingers as I held it they both said things which spoke loud and clear to me - and you know what, I can't for the life of me remember what it was! I really do need to listen to them again... ( and What I do remember though was hearing them, and sitting there saying in my head 'yes that is all very well but I still don't know why...' and then as loud and clear as the voice that had set me on the path to WGYF came the knowledge that 'I just had to be there' - that was what was important. I just had to be there, I had to carry on trying to live my life the way I had been doing for the last year or so, believing as Deborah had reminded us that I am a child of god, that if I listen I'll know what to do. Stripping my life back to the barest of essentials (well ok, a trunk, two big bags and my hand luggage - and half of it is books and resources for others honest...) and trying to live as simple a life as I can, living out the testimonies as best I can, leading by example. A calmness came over me. I knew that me just being there was going to help others, particular situations and yes, the work with JYFs etc. It wasn't any one task I was there for but to live prayerfully and be fully present for all of them. I felt like I'd been let off the hook somewhat - my initial reaction was 'is that all?' and then laughed at myself, it was no small challenge Deborah had set for us and 'living up to the light that thou hast' is no easy task! But hopefully this time it won't involve persuading over 200 people to send multiple forms in by unrealistic deadlines - as I said to Loida about getting the Peruvian and Bolivian contingent to WGYF miracles I can do, the impossible takes a little longer.... (they finally arrived on the 5th day of a 9 day event)

So where does this leave me with regard tomorrow?! I'm still not sure. Last weekend at Scotland General Meeting several of us were involved with reporting back on WGYF. In the morning session we had other business including reports back from Britain Yearly Meeting which had been dominated by RECAST - the restructuring of how our YM works and it's constituent parts (no doubt all can be found at One Friend speaking about his personal experience of the event said how he wished that at the door as you came into the main session there was a sign and a 'cloakroom', the sign saying 'please leave all egos and hobby horses here' - it was a wonderful image of all these egos stacked up, especially given some of the names he had referred to earlier in his report! It would need to be a fairly big cloakroom... I felt that much of the success of WGYF had been down to the fact that once there people were prepared to cast off the security of fixed ideas and beliefs and open themselves up to the spirit - 'to the possibility of transformation' as our mission statement read. George Fox said 'Take heed... of the promptings of of Love and Truth in your hearts for those are the leadings of God' - we did, and found in doing so 'what Love can do'.

But were we able to do all this in the planning process? Well yes and no. There were times when it became hard for all of us to distance ourselves enough from the dream we each had in our hearts and minds as to what WGYF was, and how we should get there. But 'the almighty conference planner' as Betsy often referred to the spirit/god/whatever that was guiding us seemed to have it sussed! Time and again if something was meant to happen a way would open, when it wasn't no amount of committee time and energy or emails was going to get us anywhere. This meant occassionally having to let go of something dear to us, of realising that whilst we may have ascribed particular importance to something in the end it didn't really matter. We were all 'pruned' (John 15!) back many times, but that is how we learn. When clearing out some stuff the other day I found a bookmark I'd bought in Te Papa museum in Wellington - 'He who knows his destination and heads directly to it will get there quickly. He who knows his destination but takes the odd wrong turn along the way, will still get there, and be wiser for the experience.' On the back it says 'Life's easy when you look back on it, it's even easier when you look forward to it.'

I'm not entirely sure what I'll say tomorrow but I've decided that the best way forward is to do what I usually do when speaking about WGYF, take a deep breath and wait for the spirit to guide me. It's a nervewracking way to speak (and a nightmare for interpreters! Not an issue I need to contend with thankfully...) but it has worked so far! So if anyone reads this in time and can hold me in the light between 10am and 1pm UK time I'd be very grateful.

here is one I prepared earlier.... good ol' Blue Peter fashion! (Blue Peter being an iconic long running British children's tv programme - apologies to those missing the cultural significance)

This is something I wrote last year, in fact about a year ago. Tomorrow I have to be part of a panel at a Meeting for Learning on Spiritual discernment. I was discussing this earlier with Bronwyn saying I didn't really feel prepared for it or know what I was going to say and she reminded me of this - I'll write more in another posting but for now here's where I was at last September!


About a year ago I handed in my notice and made preparations for 3 months travelling. I didn't know where my life was going, my home life needed to change, my work life had got to the point where I had to leave or do a serious amount of studying (did I want to study accountancy? Nope, ok then, get out...). One thing had become clear though – my commitment to Quakers was taking priority over everything else, maybe it was time to take this on board and do something positive with it rather than let the rest of my life self destruct because of it.

A year beforehand I had been at Monthly Meeting (not something I often do I must confess) and the FWCC Triennial in Auckland was referred to. A voice in my head said 'you've got to be there', something stirred my soul, jolted my stomach and made my heart leap into my mouth. The person speaking continued – the Quaker Tapestry was coming to Edinburgh early 2004, could anyone help? 'Blast, I'll miss it, I'll be in New Zealand' I thought...then realised the enormity of that statement. I really was going to go – how, why etc were beside the point. A greater authority than I had decided, of that I was certain, all I had to do was do it.

So there I was – a year down the line, my application to be an observer at the Triennial accepted, funding appearing out of the blue to pay for my ticket, the rest of my life suddenly opening up to give me not just three weeks but three months...any doubts that the spirit was behind this long since gone. Nothing else could explain how it all fell into place so smoothly, why it all felt so right to be walking away from everyhing from which, whilst safe and secure, the soul had gone.

It was a scary time though. I would describe myself as a wishy washy liberal universalist who had rejected the whole kit and caboodle of churchy/bible speak at High School when I came to the conclusion that it lacked any spirit, that there was nothing left but the words, and most of them I was extremely sceptical of. I had never encountered anything convincing enough to teach me otherwise. So how on earth did I describe this feeling inside me? This burning desire to be at an event I really had no concept of on the other side of the world where, ok so I had a couple of relatives, but I hardly knew them. This sense of purpose that come hell or high water I had to be there. This conviction that it was the right thing to do even though it meant walking away from so much. Oh to be a more evangelical Friend and be able to use phrases such as 'God's calling' or 'divine intervention' without feeling like a right eejit. How could I explain to those around me why I had to go? Where was my language?

'Here I am, but where are my words?' - this ministry, given in Maori & English late one night at the Triennial during an impromptu Meeting for Worship of Young Friends didn't just speak to my condition, they seemed to sum up how I felt when I arrived. Echoes of 'What canst thou say?' were rolling around. Why was I here? Where do I go next? What is my purpose? I knew I had to be there for a reason beyond getting the short straw of sorting out travel expenses (How many Kenyan Schillings to the New Zealand dollar did you say it was? Do they want that in NZD or USD?....) For the first few days I wondered had I done the right thing coming here (good ol' Advices & Queries 'Think it possible that you might be mistaken...'), lets face it, how many people are going to take you seriously if you say that 'G/god/d/e/ss' (delete as led...) told you to go for three months to the other side of the world. Was I here because I was running away from life at home? Doubts began to set in.

I was finding the programmed worship difficult. Not so much because of the theological perspective that I had expected to be a challenge but because of the lack of silence and space to internalise what was said. I had always thought of myself as a good listener, however after 10 minutes of a 'message' (sermon) I was struggling to stay focused. Time and again Ministry once given by an Edinburgh elder ran through my head ' Friends, my heart yearns for silence.' Even much of the 'unprogrammed Ministry' floored me - I didn't just want to hear scripture quoted in isolation, I wanted to know why that passage had occurred to the speaker, what moved them to share it? What did it mean to them? I needed their translation of text into something I could relate to – the words they quoted were not my language, on their own they weren't enough for me. I needed space to make sense of it – in small doses. I was hungry for something I could understand spiritually.

In the midst of all this I went to a special interest group one evening. A couple of Young Friends were going to talk about the World Gathering of Young Friends 2005. Having considered myself well past YF activities I considered my presence there as moral support for them, and also the other groups all looked far too intellectual/controversial for me to feel up to coping with. Feeling tired, somewhat unfocused and adrift I sat down wishing I'd had a coffee instead of herbal tea in order to get through the next hour without the embarrassment of falling asleep in session.

I didn't know what had hit me. Like a double decker bus at full tilt from round a blind bend the WGYF hit me square on and knocked me for six. I just didn't see it coming.

This was why I had to be here. This is what brought me to Aotearoa/New Zealand (as I now knew to call it). This is what I knew I'd be doing for the next 18 months. The irony of having to travel to the other side of the world to get involved with something happening in my doorstep was not lost on me. However without the experience of the Triennial to put it into context WGYF would have passed me by. I knew that my experience of disorientation was key to so much that needed to be better understood and explored within the worldwide family of Friends.

I felt envigorated, enthused, full of life and energy, this was something I could help with. All those years of organising YF events suddenly took on new meaning for me – these are useful skills I have, use them don't lose them! My post within the EMES office gave me great networking opportunities, I'd grown up through British YF's with many past participants of the '85 event – maybe I could track some of them down.... the ideas began to flow.

That night during our late night Meeting for Worship I realised that whilst I might not be able to find the words yet, here I was, and at least now I had some idea as to what I wanted to say.


Eight months later I'm sitting in the WGYF Office as Administrator. Life has fallen into place with almost unnerving ease, I'm even getting to go back to Aotearoa/New Zealand having totally fallen in love with the place. Is this truly God's calling? I don't know, however I'm happy to accept that it might just well be so and embrace joyfully the amazing opportunity to serve in the light of such energy and Spirit led activity. I have found myself in a place I could never have envisaged, yet it is for me a job heaven made. It is incredibly humbling to have such a fantastic opportunity placed in my hands. I hope I can take this forward with grace, submit to the will of god and pray that whatever the coming year holds for me I can be held in the light and be ready for whatever happens next.

(previously published in Young Quaker (Nov 2004), Scottish Friends Newsletter (winter 2004) and distributed on the Australian Young Friends email list)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

WGYF Epistle

To all Friends everywhere,

Greetings from the World Gathering of Young Friends 2005. 226 Friends gathered together in Lancaster University, United Kingdom, from 16th – 24th August 2005. Our theme was 'I am the vine, you are the branches. Now, what fruit shall we bear?' taken from John 15; and William Penn's challenge 'Let us then try what love will do'. Among us, 58 Yearly Meetings and 9 monthly meetings and regional groups were represented, with speakers of more than twenty different languages. We were called to be gathered together at the place where our Quaker movement first bore fruit, the heart of 1652 country. We returned to our shared roots, to the birthplace of our collective spiritual identities. Through climbing Pendle Hill as a community, to live out George Fox's vision of a great people gathered together, we found a unity with the place and one another, among the bright green hills, surrounded by grazing sheep.

We felt great joy in being together and many Friends gave thanks for being here. However, our hearts were filled with sadness too. In the hall where we met there were many empty chairs, and we were always aware of those Friends who could not join us here in Lancaster. Many were absent because they were denied visas, others because they found when the time came that they could not join us after all. Their loss is our loss as well, for without their presence we could not feel their truth reflected in their words, their experiences, their faces and their smiles. However we could feel their presence in our hearts. We have selected 2 representatives from each region to go to a post-WGYF gathering in Kenya to share with these brothers and sisters the Love and Spirit that we felt in this gathering.

Twenty years have passed since the last World Gathering of Young Friends, held in Greensboro, North Carolina, USA. To what purpose were we summoned once more?

Here we tried each others' forms of worship, silent and programmed, songs in many different languages, scriptural readings, hand holding. We were open, amazed, stretched and blessed. We learned that the great presence in our lives can be called by many names, Jesus, Christ, God, Inner light, Spirit, Love or many others. Ultimately, through listening to the Spirit that moved us, not the words in which we expressed our movement, we strived to become one organism, one body made up of many different parts (1 Corinthians 12:13). We were united not so much in the expression of our faith as in our common desire to be unified and by the power of the Spirit amongst us during these 9 days. We were challenged to put aside the labels we hide behind, programmed, unprogrammed, liberal, evangelical, and come together as Friends of the Truth, seeking together for the common truth behind our language. We have not finished this process. We are only at the beginning of a long path, but the love and joy we have felt in being in this place together have allowed us to come this far, and we pray that they will lead us further yet.

The time here has been a chance to reflect on our lives. We have been challenged to recognize ourselves as God's children, and respond in willing devotion. The love we have found here is not for us to own but to share. We desire to show our love by doing good and avoiding harm to all people and to all the Earth. We must let others see this love and know its source so that they may come to share it.

The Spirit present in our gathering summoned us to be a gathered people, and spoke through the many different people and cultures here to remind us of its glory, power and purpose. The Spirit is at work in all of us, and it is calling us not to judge one another's forms of worship but to examine our own hearts, find our own calling. We are called to take what we have experienced here and give it back to our communities.

Far away meetings now have faces, stories and friendships that make them real to us. Bridges have been built at our Gathering which we call on Friends everywhere to nurture and support. We will keep this contact alive through exchanges, more frequent gatherings and opportunities to work together. Through this contact we will give strength to each other and share our gifts. We must face the future challenges of the Religious Society of Friends together.

Where we explored the theme of the vine and the branches we found that its fruits are born from love. We have experienced what Love can do in this Gathering, now let us try what it can do in the world.

signed in and on behalf of WGYF
Michael Eccles (Britain YM)
Christine Sabwa (Nairobi YM)

Monday, September 12, 2005

Thank Kate... I think!

Well when Kate heard I needed a Missionary Visa to go and work as Resident Friend in Wellington she pleaded with me to let her set this up for me so here it is....

... so get all jokes about missionary positions down under out of your system now please!

Ok, that's quite enough of that.

I've just sorted out going down to London for my visa - I've got all the bits of paper I need (I think/hope/pray/etc) so in theory all shall be well. Mum and Dad have just been here for a few days and have taken two car loads of stuff into storage for me and a rather random selection of stuff back home with them. I did try persuading them that their attic needed filling up with my boxes but they seemd to think that they had quite enough of their own and just to make sure I didn't try persuading them otherwise they arranged to give a lift to a friend of theirs to Bathgate and back which seemed a bit drastic!

I'm finding the dual processes of wrapping up the World Gathering of Young Friends and the rest of my life in one go rather a lot to get my head around. What's more the cricket keeps distracting me so quiet time for reflection has been at somewhat of a premium of late. However the Ashes all hangs on tomorrows play and then life can resume what passes for normality again these days - well at least I can go back to trying to concentrate on one thing at a time instead of having one ear on the TMS commentary!

I'm hoping to share thoughts on WGYF as well as life in Wellington here as I gradually get my head around it all (and as I find time to listen to the sessions I missed due my administrative duties at the event!) The WGYF website is if anyone is interested - the sessions are gradually all being uploaded as audio files along with reports etc.

But right now I guess I ought to send around an email telling people that this is now here!

love & light


this is Anna's new blog, to keep us up-to-date with all her goings on down under. really looking forward to it. have a fab time girl :)
katielou xxx