Friday, October 28, 2005


no, not the sort you get when microphone is too close to a loudspeaker but that which I was asked to write for those who organised the event at Wanganui.

I've been home four days now and I still haven't quite got my head around it all. Obviously the big thing for me was seeing so many people I'd not expected to so soon, and also getting to know many others within the YM, and usefully for me - being the kind of event it was - there were a fair few 'weighty' Friends there (I don't mean overweight, it's a term used to describe those whose ponderings/spiritual insights etc tend to carry extra weight as they are seen to be somewhat more 'advanced' along the path of Quakerism than others - when you don't have an official heirarchy you still end up needing to be able to describe the nearest thing we have to one!).

We were asked at the begining to write down 6 things on little post-its about why we had come, what we hoped to get out of the event, our concerns, what we'd like to take away with us etc. If I could remember all the questions properly I might be able to answer better whether I got what I expected!

What I didn't expect when I arrived was to end up helping with two of the sessions but I guess that's what happens when you let Marion volunteer you to go to something (she didn't tell me she was on the steering committee until I was there!). I ended up giving a short spiel on how the internet is (positively) affecting the growth of Quakerism across Europe and introducing the online Meeting for Worship which we all joined in with for 15 mins using a data projector (see the link on the right of you are interested). Much to my relief this was a great success despite (perhaps because of?) so many people's initial sceptisism.

This session came about because the day before Marion had invited me to join her and 'others' to go for a walk and coffee in free time, what she neglected to say was that the 'others' were Sue and Quentin who were helping her plan the next days sessions! So as we sat by Virginia Lake hiding from the fierce rays of the sun under a big brolly we discussed 'new growth' within Quakerism. Sue, referring to someone who had been quoted earlier that day, said how this person (sorry can't remember her name - Winifred something...) had said how 'God doesn't travel by post' (I happen to disagree with the quote but that's by the by...) But what about the internet? Does god travel through cyberspace? Well me and my big mouth... not only did we end up with the online Meeting for Worship but also in another session with me talking about the WGYF email list which has enabled the various conversations about spirituality, theology and more temporal issues continue long after we've all left Lancaster and quite often between those who never even got to meet when we were there.

The latter bit was within a session where Fran, Jonathan and I were a panel of 'Young Friends' and were asked questions which had been semi discussed (and organised!) the night before (don't you just love advanced planning techniques?). Now being up there as a Young Friend is something of a thorny issue for me. I've been the Young Friend for about 20 years now and to be quite honest I think it's someone else's turn BUT.... on the other hand so many of my friends are still within the age range, I socialise with them, have been living with them, working for them, still apparently look as though I am one of them (mistaken for 25 again!) and I have much in common with them in terms of way of life etc. and I'm not quite ready to fall off the top of the spectrum completely - I guess I want my cake and eat it! Altho' one of my ways round the issue of late has to become the one in the background who bakes the cake...

I still don't feel as though I've quite come up with what Merilyn was wanting from me in terms of feedback, whether those who stayed to the end of the six days got a nice little form with tick boxes I don't know, I usually hate those things but right now I'm thinking they might be more preferable!

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