Monday, November 07, 2005

WGYF continues

I've just been looking at the photos from WGYF Africa on the FWCC Africa site ( ) which somehow had far more impact on me than reading the blog entries did ( ). Maybe it was because now I could see John, Rachel, Grace, Raul et al there and finally knowing what Bainito looks like after all the email correspondence we had and hearing his voice during phone conferences etc.

I've been thinking about WGYF a lot recently. Fran, Jonathan and I are doing three feedback sessions in the next few weeks for Friends here in Wellington (a matiné and evening performance on the 13th!) and up the coast after Kapiti Meeting (27th). Plus of course we said a bit about it already at Wanganui. I've been reading a lot of what other people have written lately and have started to realise just how 'sheltered' my own experience of it was - due to having admin team meetings every morning I was spared deep and meaningful discussions over breakfast (phew, me soooo not a mornings person...), most lunchtimes I managed to meet up with at least some of my mini support group whose main task was to distract me from WGYF for at least half an hour a day and in the evenings I usually ended up with interesting but not challenging conversation as we ate.

Not having got to any workshops where the major issues that 'divided' us were discussed (such as those around homosexuality and in particular FUM's discriminatory employment policy on this) and having a basegroup that whilst diverse was made up of such gentle and open people - with no sense of judgement being present - I found that the only challenges were internal, not within face to face discussion. Many of these challenges were brought about from ministry in worship, content from the main speaker sessions and the occassional seemingly by the by comment made by individuals around me. But I dealt with them in the silence of worship, lying in bed at night and sometimes sharing in the safety of my basegroup or with someone from my 'own' tradition, and in some cases they are still there fighting for headspace and time for reflection.

But I suspect that to an extent I sheltered myself. I wasn't really feeling up to anything controversial and half the time I felt as though I was hardly there but as if I were watching the event from some disembodied plane. My role had always been to ensure that it happened, to enable other people to have these challenging experiences and discussions. I look back and often I can't quite remember how my days were filled, but they were - to the brim!

For the feedback sessions I've to think what were the highlights for me of the event. Each and every 'moment' that comes to mind seems to be accompanied by floods of tears (and usually Louisa magically appearing with tissues!) - not tears of sadness but of joy, of just too much emotion; such as when Benny spoke of the Bridges of Love in worship one morning, as I reached the crest of Pendle Hill and saw the flag on top and people streaming up towards the gathered crowd, and holding hands between Thomas and Eleni as we sang 'Shout to the Lord' on the last morning when the lines below hit me hard as being not about 'the Lord' as in the image I had discarded at school as being, well just plain silly (old man with a beard sitting on a cloud some place) but being about those who surrounded me in the hall

'I sing for joy at the work of your hands,
Forever I'll love you, forever I'll stand.
Nothing compares to the promise I have in you.'

Just thinking about it all now is enough to know that sharing these moments is probably going to need hand holders and tissue providers again and is where I'd just love to have my mini support group back!


Lovin' Life Liz said...

I feel bad for the adminstrators having to miss out on so much. Maybe next time there can be more of a rotation of administrators going to events?

Your hard work was much much appreciated!

I just got done being a registrar for a Quaker Women's conference of about 50 people, and that was stressful enough--with only 50 people!! So props to you!!!

Anna Dunford said...

Yay for Leith! She's coming down to join us next weekend for the feedback =) Now if we could just get Charlotte up from Christchurch too....

Each of us on the admin team did get a 2hr slot off each day plus two 'half days' of 6 hours off which I used mostly to get to my basegroup sessions (as did Fran) and being able to go on the excursions without having to have any responsibilities! Others used their time off to get to sessions and workshops.

Don't feel too bad for us as we each felt called to be there in that kind of capacity and the majority of us on the team wouldn't have been there at all otherwise.

Lovin' Life Liz said...

Thanks for clearing that up. We didn't hear to much of those details, so I am comforted to know that!