Wednesday, December 27, 2006
I've long had associations with music and times of my life and 2006 for me will undoubtedly be forever linked in my mind with Don McGlashan's album Warm Hand, especially 'I will not let you down' and 'Miracle Sun'.
Since Pete very generously leant me his copy (how did you survive without it so long?) earlier in the year and then since I was given my own copy it's never been out of the cd player for long. It's accompanied me up and down State Highway 1 (both the bits you would and wouldn't pay to see - altho' given I was on Intercity buses I guess I'd paid anyway...) several times, covering almost it's entire length on the North Island - in fact I personally have covered it's entire length on Te Ika o Maui this year! From Cape Reinga to wherever it fizzles out in Wellington.
Whether singing it with Charlotte or alone, with or without the cd, I will not let you down has acquired a certain poinancy over the months - the imagery of burnt bridges behind you and yet not letting people down has a definite resonance for me. Seeing the video for Miracle Sun the first time I thought I recognised many of the places - travelling down through Hokianga Harbour and Waipou Forest with my parents kept bringing jolts of recognition - I knew I'd seen those places before!!! It's been almost three years since I was passing through them with Simon & Susie so whilst they looked familiar in the video it was far more of a vague feeling than the lightning strikes of deja vu I got when I went back to those places a few weeks ago. Unfortunately I had no-one with me to share that 'but that's where...' excitement with, whilst Mum & Dad had heard the cd they'd not seen the footage... should have texted Pete or Charlotte I guess!
As with the album that has many memories of 2005 - KT Tunstall's 'Eye to the telescope' has many Quaker associations - with KT she's a friend of Clea who was on the NYFSG staff with me a couple of years ago and she was raving on to us all about her saying we must buy the album when it came out - cheers Clea! - and then it kind of got stuck in the cd player between me and Mez at Glendevon Road. Warm Hands not only was introduced to me by Pete and as I've said big connection with Charlotte too amongst others but Don is from Mt Eden Meeting in Auckland.
We're back to that Quakers and small world thing again aren't we.....
2004 would probably have to be Bic Runga and Drive - I'm amazed my copy still worked by the time I got back from travelling, and still does - haven't managed to wear it out yet, but not for lack of playing. Again an intro through Quakers - M&Q and Jonathan - however this time no connection (that I know of!) to the artist.
I wonder what 2007 will bring....?
Does that help Sebastian?
Right, lunchbreak over - back to SG stuff, I guess I ought to pack....!
Friday, December 22, 2006
In theory I will find time amidst the Summer Gathering stuff to send round by email the ubiquitous end of year epistle, however don't hold your breath, it may well end up being closer to my birthday than that of the little girl Robert Louis Stevenson gave his birthday to =)
Thursday, December 21, 2006
At times it has felt like there have been a very small handful of us holding the planning of this event together and burn-out has hovered on the horizon. It reminded me very much of WGYF, and the sinking feeling that we had at one point where the number of people who were turning up for meetings seemed to be dwindling fast and it felt like more and more was being done by fewer and fewer.
However then, as well as now, we weren't really alone - there were others getting their heads around sessions if not dealing with the frontline logistics. Remembering how it had felt and how in the end everything fell into place one way or another at WGYF has been a huge help, and having Fran here involved with the planning who had been part of that too and could vouch for it meant I didn't feel like I was being completely naive to suggest that it would come together if it was meant to. Not everything went as originally planned at WGYF and I'm pretty sure a few things at SG will bear little resemblance to our original thinking but I've got faith that it'll work out somehow.
A lesson I found hard to learn years ago is if you need help ask for it, don't feel like you have to do everything yourself. I started off yesterday looking at the timetable for the sessions I'm responsible for... far too many of them still had 'Anna' written in as running them as I'd yet to get help organised. I'm still not that great at asking for help but at least now I know I have to do it and that it's far better to spread the load in terms of my own sanity and others learning experience. The boxes look somewhat better now - my name still appears a few times too often but it's not on it's own... it's coming together, we've asked for help and so far we've got it.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
We share the pains and the confusions,
The joys and peaceful days of all our many, varied selves.
And thus throughout our lives,
Throughout our civilisations, we have stamped
The stain of self and judgement,
Even on those we love the most - and they inevitably pass it on.
Thus have we armed ourselves and others
Against the enemies of ego.
How to disarm ourselves?
Again its simple, but perversely hard:
To understand what's happening and to remain awake against
The sleep of self and custom.
Then shall the weapons of destruction fall
Unnoticed from our mental hands,
And the grace of individual lives
Merge within the glory of the All
Looking through the newsletter I found, as I usually do, many names that are not only familiar but are attached to well loved faces - what got me really excited though was finding Aletia's blog site mentioned - woo hoo! Aletia is one of the QUNO Geneva interns working on disarmament - there's that word again...
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
It just kind of summed up how much has changed since this time last year! And three things happening at once was just typical.
Bridie and I only met at the last Summer Gathering and now the idea of us not seeing each other for the next month and a half feels just plain wrong - I'm so used to her popping in every few days (or every few hours some days!) for a cuppa and a chat. It's going to feel odd for both of us - just as well we've got phones!
Fran and I had just been saying how so many of the Young Friends who will be at SG this time we have got to know so much better in the last year and would automatically hang about with, whereas last year it took a hefty chunk of the gathering to feel like we were maybe just about part of YF things still. I really am going to have to accept I'm falling out of the top of that group now though even though I am in the process of applying for an 18+ id card to prove my age (given I don't have a drivers licence and I've been id'd 2 out of the last 3 times I've tried to buy wine in a supermarket!). However it feels like some pretty strong bridges have been made across the age range in the last year and friendships made that don't rely on me being an actual YF. After all I'm easily old enough to be Bridie's mum...
Last year the only planning for SG I had to do was working out how to get there and back. This year I'm one of the core team of organisers and am handling the registrations (sound familiar?!) - but at least this time it is all in English!
We've made a conscious effort to get as many people involved with the running of things at the event - partly as a response to last years SG where it was realised that whilst the theme might have been Building Bridges (between our divisions.... yup the same things get recycled here too!) we'd not managed to work on those needed within our own community which felt very divided, altho' some steps had been made (broadening the accepted/percieved YF age range being one of them!). There was a lot of feeling around about 'us and them' between the children, YFs and older adults groups - this year we've shaken the whole thing up and have a much more mixed age focus. Will it work? Well there's one way to find out! But one thing is for sure there'll be a very different feel to SG this year and those of us who've stuck our necks out to make it so are feeling a tad vulnerable but with a certain cavalier attitude of well it's too late to change it now!
It all fits in though with the shift in profile and perception of YFs within the Yearly Meeting this year - after all most of the planners of this SG are YFs. As a group nationally we've become more cohesive with an email list-serve and blogsite aiding and abetting this. We've asked YM to recognise YFs as a 'Meeting' in our own right and now we have to find our way forward as to what that means for us. YFs are beginning to be recognised more as part of things 'now' rather than just the future (which YFs may not hang around Quakers for if not made to feel wanted), and slowly but surely YFs seem to be being recognised for what it is as a diverse group with many skills and levels of involvement within Quakers, most of which is not seen on a Sunday morning.
So much else has changed through the year - as I've said before it's been like living in a soap opera here. So many friendships have blossomed beyond recognition - and for all the things that haven't worked out quite as we'd expected or hoped, as Fran said there have been plenty of good things too and we've both been really lucky (see, I'm not the only one who can do Pollyanna!).
Next year? Blimey, after this year it feels like anything could happen! And it probably will...
Saturday, December 16, 2006
I'll just quietly ignore the fact that it is the England winter tour, try to ignore the adverts (mostly for fertilizer, cattle drenching and building supplies!) and resign myself to yet another England collapse in the face of the Aussie attack... thing is the Black Caps aren't doing much better so I can't even console myself with the action going on along the road at the Basin Reserve.
Hey ho, at least I'm not decorating which has been done to the dulcet tones of the TMS commentary team far too often in the past. That pleasure (!?) is still to come....
Monday, December 11, 2006
Some of you will have heard my annual mutterings about Christmas for many years, they started back in 1988 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne when we arrived for Freshers week in late September to find the Local Council started putting up the Christmas lights up the next weekend. It doesn't take that many Sunday afternoons to put them all up (there were apparently so many complaints that they went up a few weeks later in subsequent years). The 2nd year I was there I was working for Age Concern and hearing from many people who couldn't afford it how much they were spending on the childrens' 'Christmas Box' - running into several hundreds of pounds per grand/child. These were people who like me were earning £38 per week plus some Housing Benefit (I'm talking collegues here not clients, altho they were probably doing the same on a State pension!). The children in question probably got far more fun from the wrapping paper and packaging than the hideously expensive toys inside.
I'd reached my late teens and cycnism about the over commercialisation of Christmas had sunk in hard and fast. It's never quite gone away. Coco-cola put Father Christmas into red and white, the toyshops and banks have turned it into a time of increasing debt and maximising their profits rather than goodwill.
When I worked for Garvald, a Steiner organisation in Edinburgh, we learned about the origins of the Christmas festival and it's connection to it's place in the year. Whilst I found much of what Steiner had to say hard to get my head around this made some sense...
Christmas is not a Festival of Christendom only. In ancient Egypt, in the regions we ourselves inhabit, and in Asia thousands and thousands of years before the Christian era we find that a Festival was celebrated on the days now dedicated to the celebration of the birth of Christ.
Now what was the character of this Festival which since time immemorial has been celebrated all over the world on the same days of the year? Wonderful Fire Festivals in the northern and central regions of Europe in ancient times were celebrated among the Celts in Scandinavia, Scotland and England by their priests, the Druids. What were they celebrating? They were celebrating the time when winter draws to its close and spring begins. It is quite true that Christmas falls while it is still winter, but Nature is already heralding a victory which can be a token of hope in anticipation of the victory that will come in spring — a token of confidence, of hope, of faith — to use words which are connected in nearly every language with the Festival of Christmas. There is confidence that the Sun, again in the ascendant, will be victorious over the opposing powers of Nature. The days draw in and draw in, and this shortening of the days seems to us to be an expression of the dying, or rather of the falling asleep of the Nature-forces. The days grow shorter and shorter up to the time when we celebrate the Christmas Festival and when our forefathers also celebrated it, in another form. Then the days begin to draw out again and the light of the Sun celebrates its victory over the darkness. In our age of materialistic thinking this is an event to which we no longer give much consideration.
(Rudolph Steiner, Festivals and their Meanings - Christmas)
Ok, so you've got my cynicism of the commercialisation of Christmas and it's distinct lack of connection to either the early historical meaning of Christmas or to the Christian adaptation of the festival and the symbolism of the light of Christ coming into the darkness of the world (which Steiner has much to say on if you can manage to get through the lecture!) or even the gifts of the Magi - which even my limited biblical knowledge tells me was on Twelth Night/Epiphany not Christmas Day. So why bother with Christmas at all given that the Christian calendar in itself isn't that important to me?
I like the idea of celebrating coming out of the darkness of winter and all the symbolic parallels life has to offer, both secular and spiritual. That makes sense to me and is what I hold on to. To combat in my own small way the commercialism Christmas presents were becoming increasingly ethical/environmentally sound (or books which are practically sacred to me anyway!), cards were homemade or charity ones, virtual presents like 25 trees planted up a Scottish Glen someplace started to join the list and various 'no presents' pacts were made. It was the spending time with friends and family rather than money that mattered, whether that time was spent actually in each other's company or writing/reading letters and cards.
I've yet to find someone here within the Steiner tradition to ask about how they reconcile the close relationship between the cycles of the earth and the festivals here in the southern hemisphere - Christmas is midsummer, St John's tide midwinter, Easter is in the autumn and Michaelmas spring. It's all topsy turvy. What about all the incarnating and excarnating of the earths energies tied up with the festivals? (apologies to those who taught me for that oversimplified statement!) It's all so northern hemisphere orientated.
I understand that for many Kiwis Christmas means BBQs on the beach, family/whanau time, sunshine and pohutukawa trees in blossom, that the European trappings and meanings of Christmas aren't what's important. Great, that's fine by me. Yet so much of the Christmas paraphenalia and imagery around is identical to that of the north - scenes of snowy forests and frost covered windows, reindeer and Victorian carolers - it feels so out of place when you are wandering around in boardies and jandals! (long shorts and flip-flops...). The same Christmas carols are pouring out of the shops sound systems - I mean who here is seriously expecting a White Christmas? If the snowman is bringing the snow then something has gone very wrong indeed (and 'Batmobile has lost his wheel on State Highway 1' doesn't quite fit the tune...)
Stuffing yourself with lots of rich food midwinter makes sense historically, it was a way to survive the cold and that fattened pig needed killing and salting down as food to feed it was running out etc. etc. It's one thing to have a traditions hanging over in a place where once upon a time they made sense on a practical level but when it's at completely the wrong time of year? When the early settlers came here from Europe they must have had the same needs with regard to food as their compatriots who remained behind, so it must have played havoc with farming practices to have birds and pigs fattened up for both the winter and Christmas. Maybe in the warmer climates it wasn't so much of an issue but in the likes of Invercargill and Dunedin winter really means winter!
This year like Kate I'm not doing Christmas cards as such, presents are more where there's something specific I want to give someone rather finding something to give to those on a list, Christmas is mainly a prompt to get organised to do it - as it is with writing to friends and family. Although as some of you will have noticed by now I'm not organised yet!
So, mutterings over... but I'm hoping Fran is planning another 'sproutfest' midwinter to balance the year out again.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
But I'm home now even though it doesn't quite look or feel like it in many ways. Yet again I came home to a houseful of people, furniture in different places, the kitchen cupboards anybodies guess and a distinct feeling of disorientation after almost a fortnight on the move and no sense of what day it is... Thankfully many of the places I've stayed over the last 2 weeks are well familiar and comfortably homelike to me in themselves, I know where to find the kettle and I get treated like one of the family rather than a guest. The difference for some of the time being that I had my parents with me which was somewhat disorientating in itself - I'm not used to spending as much time as that with them let alone them being in this country! However they too are now back home comparing the wind and rain in Galloway to that of Wellington.
It was a good holiday - but I'm glad to be back and not to be going anywhere again in a hurry.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Josh and I were overseers of YFCC together (these days YFGM) in the early 90's. I have many memories of his guitar playing (thanks for the intro to Tom Petty Josh!), that patchwork coat, those piercing eyes behind a floppy fringe. Being far away from my old photos I can't sit and pour through them and end up grasping around in the depths of my memory for names long forgotten even though the faces remain familiar.
Josh was one of the gentle giants of life - and at the time I knew him one of the heartbreakers with it, but I'll spare the blushes of those concerned though!
It's hard to believe he's gone. It's been so many years now since I saw him that not seeing him will just feel like our paths somehow just haven't crossed again yet.
My thoughts are with Rach and the rest of his family, and with all those who knew and will miss Josh.
Gonna free fall out into nothin
Gonna leave this world for a while
And I'm free, free fallin
Yeah I'm free, free fallin
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
I have a to do list, in fact I probably have several kicking about somewhere as I keep losing them. I think my subconscious has also decided it's time for a holiday.
Unfortunately I've several more days and a workshop to run before I get to fall asleep in the back of the car, I mean navigate my parents around Northland....
There's a post I want to write about the (dis)connections between the seasons and festivals calendar from a conversation that was had late last night (which is partly why my brain isn't making sense today...) and how in a bout of synchronicity it tied in with a comment made on another blog that I read this morning, but that will have to wait - too tired.
Ok, deep breath and time for sleeps... but maybe some chocolate first? For medicinal purposes you understand...
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Just popped round to the back flat, Romeo & Juliet is on - time for another girlie film night methinks....
...a Baz Luhrman film, a box of tissues and plenty of chocolate - I wonder when Bridie gets back from the Bay?
If I cross your mind -
Please let me cross it slowly.
Think of me as shining stars.
I know there must be a million thoughts
Rushing into your mind
And if there's one of me left,
Think of me as happiness,
If I cross your mind
Rebecca Z Mkan-dawire
I remembered about this poem yesterday as I was walking home - the vague train of thought being that there was a Co-counselling Network meeting in the Quaker Centre the night before (well it was a longer train of thought than that but the rest is irrelevant) and I came across the poem in a magazine that Mary Alice brought to an Edinburgh Link Group weekend when she led a session for us on co-counselling.
Rachel, Amy and I all sat around the magazine on the floor and copied it down - Rachel is now being a teaching assistant in Germany, goodness knows where Amy is (somewhere exciting if she has anything to do with it I'm sure!) and I'm now in Wellington - not much chance of the three of us being together again in a hurry... Rachel is off to EMEYF Annual Meeting (this weekend? I've lost track...) and will meet a whole heap of WGYF folk and others I know. It's nice to think of her becoming part of that community having known her through various Childrens and Young Peoples programmes over the years and said hello as we passed near my flat on her way to school, and latterly knowing her as a fellow staff member at NYFSG rather than as an 'ickle' person.
The poem has been sitting in my 'drafts' folder of my email for a few years now - I wanted to be able to send it to someone whilst I was travelling back in 2004 and I ended up writing it out for someone I stayed with and leaving it on their doorstep with a Peace Lily as a thankyou. They have been much in my thoughts today, our lives being connected in many ways.
I've also been thinking much about the person I originally carried the poem with me for, wondering how they are - and as it happens the cd that just finished playing reminds me of them too. Someone else who shares my love for this country and who was probably also at that same Link Group weekend... no idea if I ever did send it to them in the end! It's a poem I'd like to pass on to someone else too if I only knew how. Hmmm, more links between those three people - different relationships between me and them but with strong similarities in how important their friendship is to me, and similar experiences of fear at the thought of doing without it.
There are so many connections, every day little things, random trains of thought spiralling off from something small and seemingly insignificant and irrelevant to my life. Memories triggered off, stories shared.
The two people who were here for breakfast this morning and had never met before found a mutual friend within the first 5 minutes of conversation (a non-Quaker mutual friend that is - Quaker ones are somewhat of a given around here!)
I realised as we were talking that not only will there be about 7 of us at Summer Gathering with past or present connections with Newcastle-upon-Tyne Meeting I've a feeling that Graham (coming over from the UK) was in Aberdeen at the same time as a family now in Christchurch who will be at their first Summer Gathering this time.
Six degrees of separation? Aye right, 2 at the most....
Friday, November 17, 2006
This means I've been able to shake out the dust sheets and fold them up, hoover up the debris and rearrange the furniture. As the new kitchen has yet to go in I've got a rather large living space right now - twice the size it'll eventually be - plus what was the living room and is yet to become my bedroom due to still having the existing kitchen off it (just don't ask)... So how to make best use of the space? And where to put everything given I've still got to find somewhere for all the 2nd guests bedroom stuff!
I figured moving through to the the new room made sense - it lets me play around with the furniture whilst I've lots of room to manouver things (and believe me I've shuffled them around so much I reckon the dining table must be dizzy by now), it also means I get used to 'living' in the new space. It was a guests bedroom so a room I was barely in other than to clean and get ready for the next occupants. The room had an odd feel to it to me - although many people who've slept here have said what a lovely room it is - but it just didn't feel like 'me'. I found myself with the new living room all arranged and me sitting on a bed to check my emails in the old living room! Hmmm, something had to change - so I've essential oils in the burner, Bic Runga on the cd player and I finally brought the laptop through - there was no way I'd manage to migrate to the new space with that still plugged in in the old!
We've a YF dinner here on Monday (Thomas O will be in town - yay!) so hopefully that will be like a 'housewarming' and give the space a more lived in feel - so look out for a different backdrop to future YF dinner photos!
I'm getting there, still one or two pictures decide where to put and a photo I'm getting enlarged to frame and hang. I guess eventually I'll stop feeling like I'm rattling round like a pea in a drum and get used to being in a bigger space.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Now it's a close run thing as to whether Wellington Womble or Wellington Boots were first in my life, well the boots probably have the edge but the Womble probably meant more, and was certainly more loved! I never did like my Mothercare red wellies that whipped the back of my bare legs walking to school (girls weren't allowed to wear trousers and boys had to wear shorts - we're talking Yorkshire here, 1500 ft above sea level and damn cold in winter...). Black Dunlops followed and some blue ones with a white band and a drawstring round the top - however by that point in life when sent off to school in them I'd get to the bench half way down the road, put my shoes back on and carry my wellies, I didn't care how wet my feet got I had enough problem maintaining any street cred and I was blowed if I was going to attract more derision by turning up to High School in wellies - thankfully Rachel's mum could usually be relied on for a lift on wet days! I still remember the welcome sound of their car's engine (a well tinkered with Austin Allegro) coming up Station Road behind me. (Hmmm, hopefully by the time Mum & Dad get round to reading my blog again this post will have disappeared off the bottom of the page... they are currently travelling around South Island! You won't tell will you?)
Around this time Wellington had come along with his trusty dog Boot (get it? Ok so it took me far longer than I should be admitting to in public...) in The Perishers . I liked Boot, 'By the Lord Harry....' He reminded me of Rusty who I used to pass on the way to playgroup and infants school (in my red Mothercare wellies...)
At some point I must have reached the dizzy heights of getting £5 notes for birthdays or christmas rather than just my weekly 10p comic money from Grandad - the Duke of Wellington appeared on the back of the English fivers for 20 years (1971-1991, I just checked! Was it really that long ago they were withdrawn?! Blimey)
Once I started visiting Edinburgh 'meet you by Wellington' meant by the statue at the end of Princes Street opposite North Bridge. (There's also a statue of the Duke in Glasgow which usually has a traffic cone on his head but it's never figured greatly in my own life.). Once they changed all the bus stops around it ceased to be quite such a convenient place to meet, and in anycase Gill moved (as did I - to Edinburgh!) but it's still a handy landmark.
It probably wasn't until Marion & Quentin moved here that Wellington as a city in New Zealand really entered my life, I must have known of it since my Womble watching/reading days though given that it's probably here that Wellington is named after rather than a small village in England - finding that with a pin in an atlas really would be impressive!
I have on my homepage a feed to Flickr photos tagged with 'Wellington' and mostly the photos that come up are of here, but sometimes it's the Duke with or without a traffic cone adorning his head or one of the many other Wellingtons canine, feline, red brick built or whatever - but thankfully the world these days seems to be spared those 1970's Mothercare red wellies.
Friday, November 10, 2006
But as I said, what goes around comes around...
Mum, as happened to me, arrived off her first flight to New Zealand with a husky voice and cough. So I suitably dosed her up with hot honey and lemon drinks, a hot toddy and cough mixtures left over from the nasty cold/flu that was doing the rounds in August. The cough surpresant to get a decent nights sleep was fine, it tastes of pink Refreshers (British sweets), but the stuff to actually get rid of the cough is pretty grim. Mum pulled a face at the first dose and really wasn't planning on taking any more but she got short shrift from me and a pointed reminder about all the 'throat remover' cough medicine she'd forced on Jon and I as kids. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander!
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Now how on earth do I chose which 4 photos?
If you have time (or even don't but would rather do this than whatever you are avoiding doing at present...) it would help me heaps if you had a look at my photos on Flickr and check out the Wellington, Wellington Artwork and Wellington words of wisdom sets and leave suggestions as to which I should pick here - I'm supposed to have chosen by Monday if possible!
UPDATE: to give you some ideas the photos already submitted are here
UPDATE 10/11/06: suggestions made so far are here - thanks Deb, Julian & Mum!
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Peggy's post made me think of it again, of finding things to be glad about/grateful for when it appears that there is nothing good in a situation.
I sat and wrote a list this morning of things I should be grateful to a particular person for, and got to 20 before I realised that I really should be getting the place ready for Terry to come and knock down the sitting room wall instead! I've thought of a few other things to add to the list since.
Amongst other things the experiences of the last few months have shown me just how much loving support I have here and have helped me put a number of feelings and emotions into perspective - it has taught me what and who really is important to me. I've gained a better understanding of myself and my limits. I've also learned to put more faith in my intuition and gut reactions, to listen to the cris de coeur that come winging their way through some sixth sense and to the wisdom I find around me no matter what it's source.
Will knowing and acknowledging all of this help sort things out? Will it make the situation any better? Possibly not, but it helps me deal with it within myself and do what feels right.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
... but there lies the crux of the matter. It doesn't feel like the right thing to do.
Part of me can't quite believe I'm turning down the easy option of another years visa. But the rest of me is completely and utterly convinced that that's not what I'm meant to do next. Sure I like the idea of being a 'reliever' for both Auckland and Wellington after I've finished here and that would give me the chance to carry on with the YF dinners etc and a great opportunity to keep up/develop new friendships in both cities. But I just can't get away from the strong gut feeling that it's not what god/the universe/what or whoever has in store for me next.
No matter what source of guidance or inspiration I turn to at the moment I'm getting the same message no matter what aspect of my life I'm considering at the time - have patience, ask for divine guidance and trust your instincts. So I am doing, and hoping sometime soon I start getting an idea as to what I'm waiting for....
But if anyone out there is feeling the call to be Resident Friends in Auckland for a year from April 2007 and thought they'd missed the boat here's your chance! www.quaker.org.nz has all the contact information =)
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Jon (with Tuppence), Granny Dunford and me at 'Somersey', Woking, Surrey - c1985 judging by my jeans!
Mum & Dad are coming over to see me soon and I asked if they could bring me some old family photos as I don't have any here. So Dad has been scanning some old photos and emailing me some to be going on with. I've uploaded a couple of the others he's sent too (but not the one of you with your 'angel wings' Mum so you needn't worry!).
Kate - remember Jon and I looking like this?! Apart from Mum & Dad I doubt if anyone else reading this does, but if you do sing out!
Not convinced about that top I'm wearing... jeans no doubt a Huddersfield market special, I seem to remember them having an elastic waistband and a popper strap at the ankle too (worn with cream anklewarmers and maroon pixie boots in winter - but I'm not entirely sure I should be admitting that....)
Friday, October 20, 2006
The flight up to Auckland was spent head against the window drifting in and out of sleep and clouds. There was some debate as to where we were at one point between the passengers and flight attendant - we had been late setting off as the navigation system had failed but had been fixed just as we were about to head across the tarmac to another plane, so when we found ourselves well out to sea on a route that usually hugs the coast there was somewhat greater interest in where we might be than usual! It turned out that a backlog at Auckland airport meant we were some miles out from Manakau rather than half way to Tasmania. As we came in to land we discovered why there had been a backlog - now Wellington can do rain pretty dramatically at times but Auckland that day probably got enough to green the Sahara. Taxi-ing along the runway a bright flash was seen - lights? lightning? Nah, came a voice from the back of the plane, it's a speed camera. I wish it had been, we got drenched just going the 50yds from the plane to covered walkway with thunder and lightning all around, but better drenched on the ground than still up in the air when that hit I reckon.
For me Auckland as a place is a staging post rather than a destination. Much as I love the people I know there I'm always glad to get going again; it's just too big and busy and the air and water have a definite city taint. On a visa application you get an extra 10 points for not wanting to be in Auckland - woohoo, gimme, gimme! Altho' given the choice of Auckland or leaving I'd thole it there. I do like catching up with the people in Auckland tho' and getting fed by Sarah and Margaret was doubly welcome after all the cooking at camp =)
It was a somewhat surreal interlude of being in the big smoke before immersing myself back in the countryside again. I felt a distinct sense of relief as the bus headed north and I watched the suburbs give way to fields, bush and seascapes. So with Don McGlashan playing on my discman (an album now reluctantly returned to it's owner... cheers Pete!) I gladly watched the miles pass by as we headed up the more scenic stretch of Highway 1 (that you would pay to see!) and then round the coast via Bay of Islands and Kerikeri to Kaitaia. I hadn't seen the route north of Whangerei since I was up with Si & Susie so even though it meant the journey took far longer than the more direct route it was quite nostalgic and a good reminder of what's worth another visit when Mum & Dad are over next month. They are still resurfacing the road north of Paihia though...
Paihia itself is so touristy it doesn't feel like a 'real' place - having spent the majority of my life living in tourist destinations (the Holme Valley & Edinburgh) I have something of an aversion to the over touristification of places (not sure if that's a proper word but it'll do). You used to be able to buy badges in T'Paper Shop that said 'I'm not a tourist I have to live here' with a rather badly drawn sketch of Compo on them. There were times when I wished I still had it in Edinburgh - especially during the Festival. It's hard to strike a balance between what brings money into a place (especially when traditional industries are fading fast) and what people need as part of a community to survive day to day and particularly outwith the tourist season. You can't eat tartan tack (other than Edinburgh Rock and Tablet but that's not going to keep you going anywhere other than the dentist's) or collect a prescription in a gift shop. However despite my antipathy towards the place I could have done with more than the 5 minutes we had between buses to get a decent lunch in rather than just a hastily munched half sandwich! You can't eat on the bus and we'd lost our lunchbreak due to being late so I was starving by the time I got to the end of the journey!
The further north we got the stronger the feeling grew that I used to associate with crossing the Border just after Berwick upon Tweed, going over the crest of Carter Bar or catching sight of Berwick Law and Arthurs Seat coming round the coast or dropping down through Pathhead, and years before that coming over Holme Moss, especially after dusk and seeing the twinkling lights of the Valley stretched before us - a sense of coming home. When we reached Mangonui and turned the corner so Doubtless Bay was laid out before us and then being able to see the sandhills near Ahipara in the distance I'd've happily torn up my ticket back to Wellington.
Obviously I did come back to Welly, Marion would never have forgiven me for dropping her in it if I hadn't! I haven't got my photos yet from up north - somehow I've managed to mislay the film I finished up there and haven't finished the next one so you'll just have to wait a bit longer for those. However to tide you over until then and I get around to writing an account of my time up there you can read what Ruth said about it all =) My stay was over two of her diary weeks so it can be found here and here!
There are 3 photos that have been viewed far more times than the others - one from the Wellington Writers Walk and has a comment long enough to need to click on the picture to read the rest of it, one of me that Liam took at Summer Gathering (I'm blaming Mum for that!) and one of Karl at Matai Bay.
It's the last one that intrigues me. I have better pictures of the bay and far better pictures of Karl taken around the same time - neither of which have been viewed anything like as often - so why this one? Ok so putting this out here probably means it'll get even more hits but he's quite chuffed it's so popular anyway and is unlikely to complain!
Suggestions on a postcard please.... (or even comments!)
Thursday, October 19, 2006
I've been here just over a year now. In some ways it feels like far longer, yet I find myself thinking things like 'the Diwali Light Festival? Again?' as it hardly seems possibly that a year can have gone by since last time.
Time. Something I constantly feel like I never quite have enough of, but somehow all the things that matter get done, and if they don't get done it doesn't matter.
Time, (as the song on the radio this afternoon said) can do so much - allow bridges to be mended and crossed, or (to jump lyrics) where there is no bridge - time to row... methinks I could be in for a long haul though and will need to 'put my trust in wind and sail' when 'my arms, shoulders fail'...
Time. Something that feels like it has stretched almost tardis-like with friendships here that have grown to such depths and intensity that belie the fact that they so far make up such a short part of our lives when they feel like they ought to be lifelong to have got this far (or at least the same 17-20yrs I've had knowing the likes of Fran, Marion & Margaret).
Time. Something I'm apparently (according to varing soucrces of wisdom) supposed to let have it's way. The world is trying to teach me patience, and as I said to Mary I wish it would hurry up and get on with it... bah humbug. I thought I was good at being patient but I'm not so sure any more.
Time. Something that for me is going to be a shock to find hasn't stood still in Britain whenever I do get back there. Whilst I know babies have been born, F/friends have got married and engaged (woohoo Ruth & Bri!!) and several Friends just won't be there at Meeting at Victoria Terrace any more having died, it all feels a rather abstract academic knowledge rather than experiencial as it would have been had I been there.
Time. For bed....
Monday, October 16, 2006
Not long ago I was showing Julian some stuff on Person Centred Planning - a tool we used in residential care when trying to plan future accommodation needs for our residents, a tool that can be used for many life decisions and also for organisations (the latter being why I was showing Julian given the organisational strategy work he does). When we did our training in PCP we were told we couldn't do a plan on anyone else until we'd had one done on ourselves so we had an understanding of what it felt like to go through the process. Fairy snuff, so Vicki and I sat down and and did an admittedly somewhat abridged plan on each other - both of us picking a new job as the theme for our plan as we'd both been saying for ages we needed to get out but didn't know what else to do. Within 6 months we'd both left and gone on to something that matched what we'd come up with in our plans, can't say the plan we did for Pauline was as much of a success but hey we had our freedom and a new direction in life =)
I guess it's time I got those sheets back out of the folder and had another look at them, I've got some aspects of 'the dream' clear; part time work ideally, something where hours were flexible and I could work from home some of the time (no matter where that ends up being), something that involved some travel so I could combine it with Travelling in the Ministry, work that was people orientated but with time to work alone, deadlines to work to (otherwise nothing gets done!), working as part of a team but being able to organise my own workload, ideally Quaker work or for a Quaker, something I can believe in that benefits society... and above all else something here!
I want a job where I still have time for a life, where I have time to do things like spending time with children having fun and reading stories, growing vegetables and doing my patchwork, cooking and baking and having time to spend with the people who are around to eat it, being able to be there for my friends still when they pop round or phone up, still being able to take time when needed to help friends look after their children (or animals!) and having time to continue doing as much Quaker stuff as I felt able to take on, in fact I'd quite happily not have a job at all but unfortunately needs must financially and immigration would take a dim view of me not having one. Maybe I just need to borrow Kate's dream instead?
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Yesterday I got the newsletter through by email from South East Scotland MM which had a fantastic piece by Geoffrey Carnall on how to make his wonderful bread. Trust Geoffrey to make a recipe into such an entertaining article! Having heard him relate many an anecdote over the years I could hear his voice so clearly as I read it as it was if someone had transcribed him talking. It was like having him in the room and I could clearly imagine him standing there, leaning slightly forward complete with the hand gestures that no doubt would accompany the telling.
Given my nomadic life and tendency to pick up the words and phrases used around me my accent is often difficult for people to place other than maybes Northern England (mind they soon realise if they say 'Manchester?' that they got the wrong side of the Pennines!), altho' when discussing this with someone recently they said 'ah but do you say t'internet?!' in an attempt to establish my Yorkshire credentials - well funnily enough no, in fact I've never even heard t'internet said, which given I left Yorkshire long before I'd ever come across the internet and I've hardly been back is not surprising really.
However I do have to really concentrate when pronouncing Māori words as pretty much all the letters get pronounced - which after a lifetime of dropping my h's is 'ard work I can tell you. After all, I grew up in 'Olmfirth, in the 'Olme Valley, near 'Uddersfield and when it's cold I wear an 'at on me 'ead... There's a word for how h's sound in Māori and whilst I know it probably isn't exasperated that word has got stuck in my head now and I can't think of the right one, but basically they are most definitely there and not dropped and replaced with a glottal stop! Slowly I'm getting to the point where I can see a word/place name and hear in my head someone with good pronunciation saying it which helps me have a go at getting it somewhere closer to right than not. I was quite indignant when the bus driver back from Auckland, despite his obvious Māori heritage, insisted on saying Taupo the anglicised way - how on earth are we Pakeha supposed to get it right if we don't hear it pronounced correctly by those who should know better?
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
It was much further than I had expected and I had no idea where I was going having not left the buildings since we had arrived due to a small matter of organising the kitchen supplies and being in charge of feeding everyone.
It was supposed to be a silent walk but it was soon peppered with expletives of varying descriptions and volume as the breeze decided to play with the flickering flames and muted mutterings drifted through the darkness as people relit their candles from each others.
The three of us bringing up the rear had to stop many times to re-light each others candles and occassionally we had to catch up to those in front when they all blew out at once. It was at one of the times when they had all blown out that we realised that it was actually easier to see where we were going without the candles as the white track glowed faintly in what moon and starlight there was. When concentrating on the candle and trying to stop it from blowing out it was all too easy to wander off the side of the track into the ditch, our periferal vision hampered by the brightness of the flame.
We had a choice, concentrate solely on what we were trying not to lose or be able to see where the path led. We couldn't do both without getting burnt or hurt.
That coupled with the strange sensation of walking into an immaculately tidy and spotlessly clean house (thanks Margie & Keith!) meant it didn't really feel like coming come but coming back to someone else's place. Needless to say it didn't take long for me to make it look more like home but I'm still having to hunt a few things down in the kitchen.
That first night back just felt like another stop on the journey rather than the final destination, it was a reminder of the transient nature of my life. Even though Pete came to pick me up from the bus (in his little red sports car which is most definitely not designed with rucksacks in mind) and even with Charlotte popping in to visit within minutes of me getting in the door there was still a definite feeling of Wellington being but a stepping stone. We may be nearer magnetic south but it is the north of this land that calls.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Given how busy the diary is looking here I'm glad I've got a week to recover from JYF Camp before coming back as there is no way I could be up and providing yet more breakfasts all week.
So anyway I'll be out of email and mobile/cell phone range most of the time except for the when we tramp to Separation Point where apparently if you climb half way up the lookout, stand on one leg, hold your phone out in front of you as far as you can reach and make sure you hold your mouth right you can, if you are lucky, get a signal (according to Bridie), and reception when I get to Diggers Valley sounds like it's much the same! Mind you Bridie and I did hit on the idea of sending our phones off to Takaka with Julian when he goes to drop Bridget off half way through the week to pick up any text messages for us - how sad can you get?! Not quite as sad as us girlies last night though - four of us watching Moulin Rouge (and a couple of episodes of Bagpuss for good measure!) and only Fran with dry eyes by the end. Thankfully she didn't take the threatened photo...
Anyway, need to pack... cheerio!
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
As far as I can make out the Aussie coverage isn't even online and the Tasman is just a wee bitty tooo wide to be able to pick up their local radio stations from here.
There aren't many things I miss about Britain but Test Match Special is one of them, and as Fran and I were discussing earlier much as we hate to have to admit it Marks & Sparks is another - their underwear for me and trousers that fit for her. Cotton non-underwired bras and short length trousers just don't seem to have reached NZ. Ah well, if that's the worst of it I reckon we'll manage to survive out here somehow =) Parental couriers to the rescue.... (altho' that still doesn't solve the cricket issue).
Saturday, September 16, 2006
We just got the No3 bus from the middle of town to Karori Wildlife Sanctuary started walking up past the windmill and golf ball and over to Pariwhero (Red Rocks) and got the No1 bus back from Island Bay 6hrs later - we probably didn't even leave the city limits and it only cost $12 for all four of us for a group day ticket on the bus! Nae bad eh? These days $12 is about £4.
For me being able to do this kind of thing is part of the beauty of Wellington - we had to make sure we weren't back too late as Alex is off to the opera - one extreme of Welly life to another...
We got fantastic views across to South Island where we could see the snow capped peaks of the Kaikoura Range and towards the Richmond mountains between Picton & Nelson which I'll be seeing from much closer next weekend on my way to JYF Camp. Alex, Hannah & I were busy taking lots of photos - probably all of the same views so those with us all as Flickr contacts could get a distinct feeling of déja vue soon! I think Marion felt quite left out... I've not taken many pictures recently so it was good to get a film finished, I think there might even be one more picture from my train journey back from Auckland in July at the beginning.
This expotition (go read Winnie the Pooh if you think I've spelt that wrong!) was cooked up by the other 3 late last night after a few glasses of wine so I got a text as I climbed into bed saying how about it - leave at 9am tomorrow? Apparently Marion thought I was probably the only one prepared to rearrange life at such short notice and go... not entirely sure if that's a compliment or not but I'm glad she texted. It did occur to me as I fell asleep that Marion's walks usually end up somewhat more than you bargain for (as some of you out there know only too well!) but despite her not having done some of it for 6 years, us having no map and the signposts being decidely few and far between and conspicuous by their absense at some cruicial points we got where we intended, and on schedule too!!!!
Ah well I guess I'd better at least try to get some of the things I was going to do today done before the rest of the day slips by, altho a wee 'nana nap' on the sofa (as Chris would call it) does have a certain appeal after all that fresh air and exercise... or maybe I should just go and make a cuppa?
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
On Monday night Marion & Quentin had their citizenship ceremony at the Town Hall, so they are now bone fide Kiwis.
To become a citizen here you have to swear/affirm allegiance to the Queen and her heirs and successors - a thorny one to swallow for sure, although technically speaking I guess come the glorious revolution (!) whatever replaces the monarchy would still be 'her successors'! I'm not holding my breath for it mind - waiting for Aotearoa NZ to ditch the British monarchy has a much higher chance of happening first and even that's slim. It's a toughy though - as a Brit in Britian you have to swear no such thing (or even affirm it!), having to do so on the other side of the world to be part of a country you've come to to leave Britain behind is a bit galling it must be said.
So to make a point about not just being a Brit in any old Commonwealth country, and to acknowledge the bicultural status of Aotearoa New Zealand M&Q did their ceremony in Māori which caused all manner of excitement and changes to protocol and probably shattered a fair few nerves along the way (not least of which being Quentin's!). They have made a huge commitment to learning Te Reo - the (Māori) language, and you don't just learn the language but the customs and protocols too. So after the ceremony a group of us gathered for karakia (prayer), waiata (songs), a mihi (sort of an introduction to who you are) and kōrero (speeches) from Marion, Quentin and a representative from their Māori class.
Even though I could only understand a fraction of what was being said I found it all very moving, and it reaffirmed my own commitment to being here and my sense of belonging. Standing clasping my taonga (literally treasure, but in this case my Triennial Hei Matau pendant) I understood what was being said about it being the tangata (the people) those who have become their whanau (extended family) who make this place so special to Marion & Quentin and connect them to here. Māori are known as the Tangata Whenua - the people of the land. That connection to the land is held with great importance, in the words of the Dougie MacLean song 'you don't own the land, the land owns you' - he was singing about Scotland but the sentiment is shared here too - possibly partly why I feel so at home.
The two strands of land and people are so intertwined for me here almost like celtic knotwork, interweaving and going back and forth and round in circles. There are places I've felt a strong affinity to without really knowing anyone there at the time, there are people I have a strong link to but have none to where they live and most stops on the continuum in between, then there are the 3 places which for me combine both people and place the strongest - Wellington, Golden Bay and the far North. I can't, and don't want to, try to distill off what it is about any of them that has the strongest 'pull' the place or the people - take one away and I'd still have the other, but to live anywhere I'd need both.
I get to go back to Golden Bay soon for JYF Camp - first time I'll have been back there since I went there over 2 1/2 years ago. Since then I've got to know more people from that community and it'll be great to go back, but much as I love the place and the people I've a sneaking suspicion that the journey to South Island will feel just as much like going the 'wrong way' as it did last time.
Travelling in the Ministry is something I've been thinking a lot about lately as it is something I'm very much feeling called to do when my time as Resident Friend ends in April - the logistics of it all are way off being sorted and it'll no doubt take several months of Quaker process to get clearness let alone the relevant paperwork sorted should it be taken on by MM (it would realistically require extending my visa although I could do it on a tourist one if need be, all very complex and not for this post!). But anyway what I would do rather than how I would get to do it was what gained another dimension this morning. It was one of those d'oh moments - I have a reputation with one of my friends for pointing out 'the bleedin' obvious' when he just can't see it, I can't believe it took me this long to spot 'the bleedin' obvious' for myself this time.
The main focus of my thoughts for Travelling have been around work with (older) children within Meetings (having already helped 2 Meetings look at this and have another workshop coming up in November), and running mixed/any age workshops which especially within smaller Meetings meets many needs.
The d'oh realisation was that I have the WGYF study books as fantastic resources for this - part of the 'problem' over here is a tendency on certain vocal Friends behalf to regularly point out this 'not Britain Yearly Meeting' and be over sensitive to stuff coming from there (including Resident Friends!). There is so much in those books from around the world and sharing about international Quakerism in it's many and varied forms is something very dear to my heart. Having helped produce both study books through a process of blood, sweat and tears I know them intimately - but like with many painful processes once over there is tendency to put them on a shelf and overlook them for a while. I might still be selling copies all over the place but actually looking inside them for myself hasn't happened for some time. So many new ideas running around for possible sessions now - all quite exciting really!
Friday, September 08, 2006
Clipboard this time was about the choices we make every day, big and little, and the impact they invariably have not only on ourselves but on others too. The commentary on the front ended with a quote from Albert Camus 'Life is the sum of all your choices' which sat nicely for me with one inside which says ' Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions' - a pity that author is unknown.
A while ago I posted here about Don's comment to me at Whanganui how maybe one of the reasons why I'm here is to learn to let go. When I wrote that post I thought I'd got better at it - but I was still doing so reluctantly; now the sense of calmness that has come along with my decision to accept something that whilst I know it's right still isn't easy gives me hope that I've made some more progress. I've also realised that 'letting go' doesn't mean 'giving up'. In both instances it has been a case of giving someone else the space to make their own choices and find clearness for themselves rather than trying to impose my own views and wishes. In both cases though I know that whilst I may not end up liking the result (only time will tell) I'd end up feeling far worse trying to bypass or hinder that process for short term results.
After a somewhat tumultuous few weeks where serenity has felt far from present in my life I feel like I've got that back. I've got to trust the universe, have faith that it knows what it's doing, and in other people to make the decisions they need to in faith. Maybe that's somewhat naive of me, but from my experience (gained from 'bad' decisions in the past!) and to really be true to what's calling to me from inside it's what I have to do.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
What keeps coming back to me amidst all of this is the quote Rosie had as the signature of her emails 'How excellent! Everything's going exactly according to plan' - it certainly didn't seem like it at the time we were emailing about WGYF I can tell you (altho' it all worked out in the end) and there are many times in my life when 'according to plan' is about the last way I'd've described it all. But looking back on those times now so many of those experiences have come in mighty handy recently.
So whilst I'm blowed if I know what the 'plan' currently is I'm wondering what the universe is up to this time and what lessons am I supposed to be learning or be showing I've learned (in the hope that history won't repeat itself yet again thank you very much). It's become a matter of faith, listening to what feels right, and trusting that a way will open and all will become clear in time. That and having the courage to act as led and accept the outcome.
Monday, September 04, 2006
Going round MOTAT was very much like being a kid again in many ways, or at least it reminded me a lot of being one - especially when we went to the Railway restoration workshop and got a guided tour around the engines and carriages being reconditioned. There was a Fairlie Narrow Gauge engine there that had come from Britain which looked just like a Talyllyn engine (and quite possibly had been), no Fairlie double engines at MOTAT though I did spot one through the window of the Settlers museum in Dunedin a couple of years ago! Childhood dreams of spending a summer working on the Ffestiniog Railway came flooding back. I don't know quite what it is about steam engines but there's definitely something... I keep getting funny looks from the other planners when I get excited about the Silver Stream Railway being nextdoor to where the Summer Gathering is being held, they just don't understand...
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
I'm going to have to watch it, each time I've come back from Auckland this year I've brought back a cold - Marion is going to start veto-ing future trips if I'm not careful. Oh well at least I'm not projectile vomiting as poor wee Benjamin was whilst I was up there. He put me to shame though - he sat and took the accupuncturists needles no bother whatsoever, hardly batted an eyelid, whereas I was squirming in my seat just watching. Hmmm, I'm not feeling that ill though that I'm prepared to try it myself - I'll stick to honey, lemon, ginger, echineacea etc. I got a bottle of Green Ginger wine for hot toddys (sadly not Crabbies) in the supermarket this afternon and got id'd, I mean come on what's that about? I know Marion jokes about me looking 12 (common consensus is about 25) but really I ask you?! Luckily I still had my passport in my bag having flown Qantas yesterday and they require photo id, I'm not usually in the habit of taking my passport to New World!
Anyway I'm supposed to be writing a report for Premises Committee not blogging so best get that done, but before I do... big news came in today Anna Levin & Rob had a baby boy Joe last Thursday (24th Aug) weighing in at 8lbs 10.5 oz - I'm sooo chuffed for them, all very exciting. I really am going to have a lot of new faces to catch up with at some point, these friends of mine who keep having babies... ah well lets me off the hook a bit longer, no danger of us dying out yet =)
Monday, August 21, 2006
Well once I stop trying to get to YF diners in 3 cities in one week and other such madness.
I'm off to a workshop in Christchurch with Elizabeth Duke on travelling in the ministry amongst other things which seems more than a little appropriate.
Anyway got to go, got to serve up one more breakfast and then get a plane...
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Forever I'll love you, forever I'll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have in you."
Even just typing that brings a lump to my throat and the tears are welling up as I remember the last morning at WGYF singing that song holding hands between Eleni and Thomas. We'd done it, it was almost over... at least the Lancaster part was.
WGYF Lancaster 2005 started a year ago today. Well the event officially did, it's conception was 5 years earlier. Even in terms of us gathering in Lancaster a good number of us had started arriving 5 days beforehand; to set up, produce nametags, allocate rooms (yet again...). put together welcome packs and the signage we needed and an inordinate amount of other tasks that seemed to multiply each time we turned our back on the list for 5 minutes.
Whilst in no way could I describe WGYF as 'my baby' having come in on the act just 18 months before it happened it was very much my life from that point onwards. I felt at times as though my life didn't really exist beyond it and I really valued the times spent sitting on the floor playing with my godson and his little brother or reading them bedtime stories to remind me that there was another world out there! However I don't think I could have done it any differently - being WGYF administrator wasn't so much a job as a vocation, a way of life, good preparation for becoming a Resident Friend....
Many participants have spoken about WGYF being a life-changing event, for many of us on the various planning committees it was as much the process as the event itself that had the impact. I have no doubt whatsoever that the line in the mission statement about creating the next generation of Quaker leaders (in whatever sense you wish to interpret that) will come to bear fruit. I think of the difficulties we overcame (and those we didn't) and the way they were handled; the skills developed in clerking, eldership (in the liberal tradition sense of the word), pastoral care; translation; working together on committees under extreme pressure and over vast geographical distances; fundraising; the report, preparation material and grant application writing. The practical lessons we learned in terms of large event planning and management; the spiritual lessons learned in terms of discerning (sorry simon!) a way forward again, and again, and again....
I recently came across John's photos from the Kenya WGYF (pages and pages of wedding photos and then up pops a rhino!), seeing the familiar faces of the Lancaster participants there and knowing that the spirit of the the gathering was passed on through them was something really special. Each time I see [wgyf] in the subject line of my inbox I know too that the community we created has continued.
We have been there for each other through marriages and deaths, natural and human disasters, celebrations of life and shared our fears for the future. We have shared our experiences, our hopes and dreams. We've networked, arranged to visit physically and 'meet' virtually.
I know too that our reporting back has touched the lives of others, the way it has affected the life choices of many of us and the way we've lived our lives and made decisions since has also reached many others. WGYF was always about more than just those of us who got to Lancaster for those 9 days, it was about Quakers around the world being brought together, being united in seeking unity with and acceptance from each other regardless of our many and varied differences.
Was it a success? Can we justify the vast expense? These questions have been asked many times in many places, maybe it's too soon to tell, but maybe it's not....
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
(from Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne)
Ever played word association games? Well the quote above barged into my head whilst thinking about a sign that used to be (and probably still is) outside the Salvation Army Hall down the road from where I lived in Edinburgh - Trespassers will be prayed for.
Tangental thinking it may be, as we discussed at Young Friends on Sunday night when looking at Meeting for Worship, ministry and eldership. However that is a tangent and not what this post is about.
The Trespassers bit is.
As is the will be prayed for.
The events in the Middle East have lead to some considerable discussion here - letters and emails have been written not just to the Quakers in Lebanon and heads of State there and in Palestine, but also in Israel letting them know they are being (to use Quaker speak) 'held in the light' whilst a peaceful solution is looked for. After all if you are hoping for a peaceful resolution it needs both sides to come to a place where that is what they want and seek. The 'aggressors' need held in the light as much as the 'victims' as they have to overcome a monumental shift of perspective to drop their current methods and find the courage to put their faith in an alternative which may not produce such instant effects or self gratification.
Invasion of space at any level is very emotive. It is very easy to want to put the shutters up and haul up the drawbridge. It isn't easy to trust that those who have violated your space can be capable of dialogue. It is hard to risk innocent others getting hurt along the way - the stories that have captured the hearts of many around the world and have helped boost public calls for a solution in Lebanon have been those of children bombed and caught in the crossfire, similarly it took children being shot in Britain to bring about enough public pressure to change the gun licencing laws.
But sometimes there isn't anything you can do other than pray for, hold in the light or whatever, those whose determination to achieve their own ends takes little heed of the damage and resentment they may be causing along the way that is likely to backfire on them. Lebanon had been rebuilt after the last round of wars, it had worked hard towards achieving an integrated multifaith community - now a new generation of dissenters has probably been created. Buildings can be replaced, trust is harder to regain.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Ok so some things couldn't wait (well not without more stress than it was worth), but most things could and the difference it made to get something done that had been subtly driving us nuts was well worth the effort involved in doing it. However usually what made doing it possible was we'd do it together - both the staff on shift and whoever we could rope in of the residents (keeping us supplied with cups of tea & coffee and answering the phone for us often being as much help as mucking in!).
Ever since when I've opened a cupboard and my heart has sank as I've thought 'I must get round to dealing with that' as something rolls out across the floor or the door won't quite shut a little voice at the back of my head has been saying 'think it, do it' - I don't always, but when I do that little bit of life feels so much better. And like watching the pennies to save the pounds it's the little things added together that make the bigger difference. I don't have Cat, Heather, Alison or any of the others here to work with me, or Peter or Nicola to answer the phone but considering my current bugbear is one small kitchen cupboard I really should just go and do it rather than blogging about it. I've got half and hour before Meeting for Worship, if Cat & I can cut down a Laburnum tree in that time I can do a cupboard surely?
Thursday, August 10, 2006
I seem to have a distinct lack of presence of mind at the moment. Those who have known me some years will be well acquainted with my regular inability to keep the kitchen calendar and my diary up to date and ne'er the twain shall match, which results from time to time in some interesting double bookings (just where do I get my reputation for being organised from?). Well right now I can read either or both, and if anybody asks I can tell them when I'm supposed to be where but something seems to be short circuiting as I seem totally incapable of relating that to where in the day/week I've actually got to.
But somehow it hasn't mattered. With almost unerring accuracy I've found myself in the right place at the right time through no apparent willful act on my behalf! I've been there to let people into buildings, for expected phonecalls and visitors/B&B guests, something has come along to remind me just in time to head off wherever else I'm supposed to be (altho last night's salsa class was a close call but I still managed to arrive first!). It's quite uncanny.
I'm not intending to push my luck though and rely on this continuing (and I'm hoping this post isn't the equivalent kiss of death to the (cricket) TMS commentators saying someone looks as though they're heading for a century as they then usually lose their wicket the next over...), but meanwhile to whatever/whoever it is looking out for me I'm extremely grateful!
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
I have a love hate relationship with computers - love them when they work and feel like the classic cartoon of 'hit any key' with a mallet when they don't.... so having lost a great long email to Chris McC this morning because the internet siezed up on me yet again, and I'm back in the office because the connection isn't stable enough to trust using the wifi in the house, I'm torn between wishing I knew more about it all so I could fix it myself and just not wanting to go anywhere near it all in case something else goes wrong!
The lengthy email that I lost was written as a result of finding somewhat serendipitously photos of John & Rachel's wedding through someone I don't (..think) I know who'd linked to my photos on Flickr (what was that about Quakers making the world a smaller place again?) I knew their wedding was in July - along with Andy & Sharon, Hazel & whatsisname, Clare & Michael, Cat & Peter and of course Sarah & Karl - the only one I actually got to - and knew therefore it had happened but hadn't quite got my head around exactly when. Great to see the photos of it, and of Mair being bridesmaid and Bri looking smart in Cat & Peter's, anyone got pics of the others I missed by being half way round the world away?! Anyone thinking the names sound familiar it's the WGYF John & Rachel not my brother Jon & Rachel, I'm kind of assuming they'll tell me when they finally set a date...
I also found pictures from Graham of Pardshaw the same way - some of which even have me in them! Ok, so I'm still in my jammies when everyone else looks dressed I know... I keep telling you I don't really do mornings very well.
All exciting stuff this photos online business. Yesterday Alex and I went to the Wellington Flickr group meet up. Basically a rather random bunch of people who all take photos of Wellington - the vast majority of whom were ex-pat Brits. We pondered as to why this was and decided in the end it was probably because we were from the other side of the world that we found it an interesting enough place to photograph (rather than taking it for granted) and didn't have as many hang-ups about looking like a tourist.
When I lived in Edinburgh, a city I think is probably the most beautiful I've ever been to, I hardly ever took photos in the city centre. I just couldn't face looking like a tourist! But when you've bumped into far too many people because they've stopped suddenly mid-pavement to take a picture, seen lives endangered as folk step backwards off a kerb to get a better shot not, to mention overheard some of the inane comments made and questions asked ('what time does the one o'clock gun go off?' being one of my 'favourites'...) the idea of being perceived as 'one of them' rather than a local (...and I've got to live here) has little appeal. Tourists here seem to be a bit more savvy - I could comment on the difference in geographical origin but that could sound somewhat unkind!
Grrrr, lost the connection again, will save into a document and hope I can post this in the morning... just as well the real post still works, got a pile of birthdays to deal with! (Susie have you moved yet?!?)
Sunday, August 06, 2006
I've also spent quite a bit of time over the last few days reading back over some of my own early posts, looking back to before I came out here and dipping in and out of the intervening months wondering what picture of me it conveys. Kate has written a few posts about online identities and how people perceive us through our blogs and how much that tallies with the flesh and blood versions of us and the shock of finding people were not always how or even who they seemed to be (couldn't find the post I wanted though when I looked just now but this is on a similar vein!).
I've never really tried to focus this blog on anything inparticular (as those who have been reading for any length of time will know!), it has just been whatever felt like it needed written at the time. I know out there reading this are Mum & Dad (an incentive to use the spellcheck if ever there was one!), one or two other family members, a selection of (F)friends from various parts of my life some of whom have known me many years, others just months and to varying degrees of closeness. There are those I only really know online - like connections picked up post WGYF with other participants I didn't really get to know at the time (well I was kinda busy...) and some people who have come across this blog by accident (if there is such a thing) or through links from friends blogs or the Quaker blogwatch.
Blogs have meant there are those I've kept up with that I probably wouldn't have otherwise, and because of the time I spend reading them I suspect this has been at the expense of writing to others I maybe would have emailed if I'd had more time. It has also strengthened various friendships, sometimes extended them into a realm they probably never would have reached otherwise as through this media we've shared ideas and parts of our lives we wouldn't have thought to otherwise.
I have a quote from Richard Bach's book 'Illusions' as the signature to my emails
"Every person, all the events of your life, are there because you have drawn them there.
What you choose to do with them is up to you."
Blogs I suppose are just another way of drawing us to each other, and what we make of them is up to us.