Thursday, October 11, 2007

I'm at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre doing a three day course on Spiritual Friendships - there are 10 of us all together which is a nice sized group as it means there's actually time to get to know everyone in matters both temporal and eternal.

One of the things that has really hit me so far is how much I have come to take for granted the experience of meeting people in that sacred space within their everyday protective boundaries and how scary a prospect it is for some people to make such friendships. Someone expressed a fear of having made such a deep connection how do you get over the loss of it when it ends and how do you find the courage to start again with someone/s new?

I remember crying throughout the Meeting for Worship at the end of my first Questabout weekend wondering how on earth it was that I felt closer to those friends I'd made in a weekend than those I'd been at school with for 10 years. I thought of the time I came home from my first Holiday School aged 16, over tired, distraught at leaving everyone behind and being in a foul mood because I felt my parents just didn't understand the heartwrenching sense of loss when the event came to an end. I remember being asked why on earth I wanted to go to more of these things if they left me feeling like this, I'm not entirely sure I'd make a much better job of explaining it now than I could then but I like to think I'd slam fewer doors in the process! I thought back to the many Summer School kids who've told me they live for that one week in the year and the other 51 are just there to be endured.

I also remembered a conversation with Thomas at the end of WGYF, he'd just come back up to the office after watching many a tearful farewell being made down at the buses. We discussed how for us having been reunited with far flung F/friends at WGYF itself we could more easily accept that no matter far apart we may live in everyday life our paths could and would cross again and that that time would pass far quicker than expected, so whilst our farewells were no less heartfelt there wasn't the devastating grief accompanying it. Mind you I suspect the overwhelming sense of relief that we'd got through it all and it was almost time to go home overrode any sense of loss!

So what happened somewhere along the 20 years between that High Flatts Questabout and WGYF, at what point did that understanding creep in? I have to recognise also that many a tearful last night of an event has been as much about not wanting to return to everyday life as not wanting to leave where I was. How many times has the conversation been had on the way home from an event where someone has said 'ah well, back to normality' and it has been pondered as to which is 'normality' that which we've left or that to which we return? And if it's not that which we've left why isn't it and how can we make the rest of life more like it?

I'm not sure that I have the answers to the fears for whom making these kinds of friendships is something new and scary but what I can tell them is that those in their Meetings most likely to understand any such feelings of loss are those who've been on young peoples and Young Friends events. I'm appreciating more and more what an incredible gift those events are as they make such friendships an integral (even normal?) part of life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For ". . . being in a foul mood because my parents just didn't understand the heartwrenching sense of loss" read ". . . being in a foul mood." In such circumstances remember that parents are never going to say anything right!