Tuesday, February 27, 2007


I feel like my head is struggling to keep up at the moment - there is a huge debate going on through the YFs email list here about a proposed session on spirituality, those who want a session to explore this and those who feel excluded by the term - both very eloquently putting forward their views... there are a few posts brewing about that but not ready yet.

Also I'm trying to pull stuff together for my residency application, deal with some contentious issues in Meeting that have arisen basically about the job description of a particular role and whether that is being fulfilled or not (not being the more relevant word...), at least the Cuba St Carnival costume I was making for someone is done and has been worn and MM Camp is over so that's two things ticked off my to do list! But the Wellington Flickr photo exhibition still has work to be done before it opens on the 8th and I seem to have a few workshops to help plan and run over the next few weeks and I'm facilitating Hearts & Minds sesisons to boot....

At least my promised shiny new washing machine arrived yesterday so I now get the equivalent of two loads done in one go and what's more it's quiet and quicker - woo hoo! Never thought I'd get quite so excited about a washing machine... but given that just about every towel and sheet has been washed in the last few days due to high guest numbers and turnover it feels heaven sent. It's going to be very strange when I return to just having my own clothes, towels and bedding to wash and them not having to join the queue for space on the line.

Much as in theory I probably ought to be trying to earn some money again soon the idea of having a couple of months to just catch up with myself instead has a huuuuuuge appeal. Which reminds me I still need to get out on that bike and get myself fit before I find myself miles from anywhere for 10 weeks!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

rattling cages

I've been pondering for a while on what it is that makes working with Young Friends different from older groups of Friends. The (ok, an...) answer has been tantalisingly close, on the tip of my toungue but eluding me whenever I've tried to put it into words.

But this morning I've been reading various posts (like this one) about the Young Adult Friends Gathering in the USA and a penny finally dropped into place.

I have repeatedly come across this same sentiment amidst YF circles, be it local or international, that if things aren't right you look at the issue, share feelings, find out what is 'wrong' and then work out together (or by that trusty Quaker method of setting up a committee to report back) how to fix it, seeking spiritual guidance along the way.

What I've come up against time and again amidst older Friends is a reluctance to even look at the issues, and a tendency to take even the suggestion of looking at it as a personal attack and critisism.

Quakerism is hugely important in the lives of many Young Friends, we love it for all it's faults and failings. Maybe it is partly because of our relative youth (and despite being past the 'official' YF age range I'm still in the lower half of the age range in our Meeting by a looooooong way) we want it to move forward, push it to live up to the radical stance of early Friends who weren't afraid of pushing the boundaries of society and didn't just sit back and rest on their laurels once established. We see the ideals and want to reach for them, recognise our failings and want to do something about it rather than turn a blind eye, we're prepared to push ourselves, and others, beyond our comfort zones.

There are of course ways and means of doing this, and we don't always get it right first time. But that's how we learn. Shaking things up is a risk, this is why the idea of testing concerns has become so important within Quaker circles - making sure that you have a valid concern and it is based on more than just one individuals personal opinion, testing it before the spirit, others in the Meeting, elders... and then speaking out.

What happens after you are a YF? - a question posed to one of us by a 12yr old at Summer Gathering, the flip answer given was 'Nothing, you just become old and boring'. I guess it is up to us as a generation to make sure that we don't, in the same way Jonathan and Leith made a personal committment to hang in there and raise the age range of YFs here simply by keeping on coming back (which has worked!) we have to make sure we don't become old and boring, that we don't lose that fire in the belly nor the desire to live up to what it says in our Faith & Practices that we stand for and believe in.

If we don't then I hope the YFs of the day will have the guts to stand up and speak out, to remind us of what we have lost.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


To say today was a Good Day would be an understatement, to say that Friday's match was enjoyable... well, where do I start?!

Ok - for all non-cricket enthusiasts you may wish to skip this post - you probably just won't get it, unless perhaps you support Scotland at anything and you know what it's like to be the underdog to the louder, brashier, bigger neighbour who thinks they have a god given right to win everything and tend to overlook it if you do well or consider it a fluke.

So not only were the Black Caps the first team to beat the Aussies in an ODI by 10 wickets they did it in style and ended on a fantastic 6 by Lou Vincent (altho' I'm not sure that a poor or mediocre 6 is actually possible...) but they then went on to top the record setting score Australia set them to win the Chappell-Hadlee trophy for the first time ever - woo hoo!!!!!

The atmosphere at Westpac was something else on Friday, my third match there and this was just in a different league - this was the auld enemy and they were given a pasting. I doubt if Shane Bond, Stephen Flemming or Lou Vincent will need to pay for a pint in Welly for the rest of their lives. What it must have been like in Auckland after Eden Park tonight I can't quite imagine - akin to when England won the Ashes?!

There's something more to it than knocking the Aussies off the top spot, or even winning the trophy. It's the ol' David and Goliath thing - the underdog coming home with the big win, and especially today when it's not as if the Aussies played badly as they did on Friday. Everyone seems to like to see the big boys beaten at their own game, brought down a peg or two and made to eat humble pie. It reinforces belief that anything is possible, that dreams can come true, that against the odds, history and the nay-sayers it is possible to win.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

moving on, moving out, using up

Alex came and dropped off a mirror here today - he's going through his stuff, packing things up to ship back to Britain and getting ready to leave Wellington to go back the slow way - fly to Hong Kong and then travel the rest of the way by train. One way to reduce those carbon emissions! And, as he pointed out, a much more exciting journey to look forward to rather than just dreading the moment when you have to go and get on the plane to leave.

I've started packing and sorting stuff too - working out what I won't need again for the next couple of months, planning my meals around what in the cupboards and freezer I can use up, finishing off various toiletries and decanting stuff into smaller bottles... all very familiar processes. At least this time anything that ends up getting stored is more easily retrievable. I know it seems a bit soon to be thinking about packing etc given how little stuff I actually have but I know how busy I'll be between now and Easter and I'd rather start off slowly and methodically.

I'll definitely have added my contribution to this place - so much of the artwork etc here has been done by previous Resident Friends. I'm no great painter but instead there are various patchwork cushion covers I'll probably end up leaving, a wall hanging and a collection of harakeke raranga (flax weaving) - baskets and I guess what is best described as a type of 'flower arrangement', not that they are flowers but they stand in a vase and look pretty! John is an artist - another painter - so no doubt he too will leave a contribution to the cause after his and Alan's stint here.

I'm not entirely sure how I've managed to acquire so much more 'stuff' since arriving here. I've hardly bought anything that hasn't been a direct replacement for something else, except for my stock of patchwork materials (which is probably the major culprit). Some things have been gifts, and some things I've made. It all somehow looks a lot more than it did when I arrived - maybe once it's all squidged into bags and boxes it'll look better? Or maybe it's more a case of I arrived with relatively very little having previously had a houseful, and now I'm trying to work out how to get it from one end of the Island to the other via a relay of lifts so am thinking of it in terms of boot space!

It does seem ironic though that as soon as I get oodles of new kitchen cupboard space I'm trying to wind down my supplies that go in them!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

climate of change and happenings

Global warming, climate change, carbon neutralising, the negative impact of long haul flights on our environment....

Sometimes issues come to the fore and won't go away and leave me in peace. The last couple of weeks I've been simultaneously been involved with thinking about how to reduce the impact of my life and that of others on the environment and actively encouraging a good number of long haul flights... ouch.

As was pointed out to me recently it's all very well planting trees to offset airmiles but whilst they may help redress the overall balance they don't actually help where the aeroplanes do the damage, some 30,000 feet or so up above the treetops.

Yet as Jonathan manged to say far better than I could find the words to say in MM last week so often the simplest forms of things are the most effective. Technology is all very well with recordings of sessions (like those available from WGYF) , written reports and people talking about their experiences but you still can't beat face to face interaction for building community, for strengthening links between countries, between theologies and cultures. You can't replicate the intensity of that kind of learning and personal growth via the internet.

So once again I'm involved in planning to fly people varying distances around the globe; whether from here to Britain or from across the Asia West Pacific Section to India I have no doubts as to the value to the individuals concerned and to their Quaker communities. I just hope that we can find a way to ensure that the positive benefits outweigh the negative impact, and if nothing else we still plant those trees.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

time, can do so much...

As I was walking through the Town Belt to M&Q's yesterday evening I realised that it must be 3yrs to the week since I'd sat in their dining room with Marion and Net working out how on earth I was going manage to come back here long term.

Not having a vocational qualification or shortage skill and being over 30 (ie too old for a working holiday visa) my options were severely limited. 'You could always marry a Kiwi!' - yeah right, and despite Marion's helpful suggestion as to who was single at the time I was decidedly unimpressed with the idea of marrying for a visa, and still am. However if I'd got a pound, or even an NZ dollar, for every time it's been suggested since I could apply as an investor!

The idea of being totally dependent upon a single relationship to enable me to stay in the country was, and is, just too scary, I wouldn't want to put that kind of pressure on a relationship and in any case I wouldn't want anyone to think I was just with them for their passport.

3 years... even once we'd come up with the plan of me applying to be Resident Friend I still don't think I could have possibly imagined quite what those 3 years would hold, which is maybe why I have great difficulty imagining what the next 3 might have in store for me. The one thing that has remained constant throughout though is the conviction that this is where I want to be, need to be and ought to be - 'this' being Aotearoa New Zealand rather than specifically Wellington. It's amazing how many of the friendships renewed, strengthened and made in those two months here 3yrs ago have completely changed my life and I now find it impossible to imagine a life without them, not to mention those I've got to know since.

It's going to be a long few weeks in terms of waiting to hear about my visa, and yet they'll no doubt fly by as I fail abysmally to do by Easter all the things in Wellington that I've meant to get around to and haven't yet. However even though I know I'll be leaving Welly for at least 10 weeks I refuse to believe I won't be back.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

shipping forecast

I nearly didn't go in to Meeting today, it was tempting to join Richard who had decided that sitting in solitude in the shade outside in the company of the silver birch tree and flowers was what he needed more. I knew what he meant, last week I'd done much the same - I'd needed the stillness and silence more than I'd needed the sharing of it. But I knew if I didn't go to Meeting today, it would get harder and harder to go back to it, I could feel myself slipping away - not expecting to find what I needed and not wanting to face what I suspected I'd get.

My suspicions in many ways were confirmed, but I also got what I needed - after a fashion. I got ministry that spoke to me, that showed me a path and gave me encouragement to start along it. I took the first step after Meeting and found I wasn't alone in finding that road opening up in front of me. The message I had heard was simply about the need to work together, in the Light, to believe we could make a difference, that we could be heard. As was pointed out in earlier ministry, we're all in the same boat.

I don't know where this boat is going, or how on earth we'll get there, but if we work together there's no reason why it should go down. Michael pointed out that Noah's Ark was built by amateurs, the Titanic by professionals, but Noah listened to the Light.

Ok, point taken. We're in for a rough crossing, but I'm glad I'm on board though.