Tuesday, December 19, 2006

what a difference a year makes

Fran and I were just sitting talking about what a full on year it had been when Marion rang up about Summer Gathering planning stuff and Bridie and Fran G turned up to drop off a dvd and collect a bag...

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...

No comments: