Wednesday, July 13, 2005

FGC Gathering 2005: The Experience of a clerking young Friend - TUESDAY

In the morning I awoke, met f/Friends at breakfast, and went patiently to my workshop. I was very patient that morning – I didn’t even really need to think about being patient; I just was. I think this speaks a little to how grounded I was during the week.

After workshop I briefly stood in front of the cafeteria to redirect any HS Friends to the dorm – everyone was supposed to go directly to the dorm right after workshops ("do not pass go, do not collect $200"). (I was asked by Cari to stand as a reminder for a few minutes, which is why I, myself, didn’t go so directly.)

At some point while I was standing there, someone mentioned to me what had happened with the buses – we were able to get them switched to Thursday. A wave of relief and happiness passed over me. All of that work and energy had come to something so positive – and it wasn’t that it wouldn’t have worked out alright if we couldn’t changed the buses, but it just felt so awesome that plan A became a reality. Because of all of our hard work, the community now did not have to be split during out trip, and everyone could go to the Witness and the out trip – this seemingly unsolvable problem (well, it felt unsolvable earlier in our discussion of what to do on Monday) had been resolved. Again, this is another example of faith - we put our faith into the situation, and things turned out very well. (And I don't mean to imply that if the buses hadn't come through that they wouldn't have turned out well - that could've been in good faith, too.)

Since we’d already requested boxed lunches from the cafeteria for Tuesday (due to the trip), we had to eat those lunches instead of going to the cafeteria. So we all hung out in a grassy area in front of the high school dorm relaxing, eating our boxed lunches, and just having fun together as a community. It seemed we had some bonding time together even without being on the out trip and that was really nice. (Come to think of it, I think those two hours were really among the few hours I spent actually relaxing during the entire Gathering.) I remember being incredibly exhausted and wanting to nap, but I never got around to it. By the time I was in the right place and position for nap in the grass, it was about time to go. I had already abandoned the idea of napping, anyway.

When it became near 2pm, those of us who wanted to go to the Witness began to gather together – we had decided to all go together. A huge crowd gathered – I think a majority of the 150 high school Friends had gathered to attend the Witness. Together, we walked across the campus to the location of the Witness. As we were walking, I ended up toward the front of the group and turned around to look again at just how many of us there were – I felt like I was on a march! There were so many of us! I was glowing with joy; we clerks were able to let this beautiful occurrence a be a real possibility! To have been involved in that process and to have served the community in such a deep way was so incredible! And there was more…

As we began crowding through a gate in a fence on the outside of the small field where the Witness was taking place, those Friends already there spontaneously applauded our arrival – I think there was a general awareness of how hard it was to get this to happen, but also, our presence as young Friends was so important to the Witness. My heart did fill with Joy – as did the hearts of many. What a fantastic experience that entire process was.

The speakers and performers were very nice, and often moving to listen to. There was a point where a woman from the local community had stopped on her way to work and stood up on the stage and spoke of how she felt so much warmth and acceptance there, unlike anything she’d experienced in her local community. I watched as a number of people stood up to give her hugs after she walked off stage. It was beautiful.

Sitting here trying to remember what I did right after the Witness until dinner, I’m drawing a huge blank. I just thought I'd articulate that - I'm impressed by how many details I'm already managing to remember, so I'll let this blank go. Moving on, then..

After dinner, support groups happened, followed by Nurture Committee. Nurture Committee began at the same time as a Youth Ministries interest group (it was something along the lines of an interest group, at least) that I really wanted to attend. [I could speak at length about Youth Ministries as it is one of the things about which I am passionate in the Quaker realm, but I don’t feel that here in this series is the place to speak about it at length.] As soon as Nurture Committee finished (and though I wanted it to end as soon as possible, I did not let this urge get in the way of my clerking – the meeting went as long as it needed to), I walked quickly to go to the Youth Ministries thing. However, I found that I had walked quickly to the building where I thought it was, right past the building I actually needed to be in. Then, once I learned what building I needed to be in, I spent a great deal of time looking around the wrong end of the building, getting incredibly frustrated. I was about to give up, when I realized that I hadn’t looked in the very other end of the building – it was there that I found the group (oh the things that patience can do..). I was so relieved to have found it, and was able to get involved a little more afterwards on a small subcommittee type thing.

Immediately after the Youth Ministries meeting was the HS sponsored all-Gathering dance. I enjoyed myself sitting on the side with f/Friends, watching crazy Friends, young and old, dance (I'm not one to dance, myself). It was a nice way to end the day – and it was a reminder that it was probably a good thing we hadn’t had out trip earlier, otherwise few in the high school program would have had the energy to dance as they did!

Anyways, I realize that the end of Tuesday was perhaps not as moving or interesting to anyone other than myself and those present, but I felt the need to talk about it anyway – just to be thorough.

Of all the days that week, I believe Tuesday was the most relaxing. Little did I know what Wednesday would bring…

Coming soon: Wednesday – this is where the intensity really picks up. In fact, the next post may bleed into Thursday a little; aside from what I would call a longish nap, there was little distinction between the two days for me.

Love and Light,


Blogger Liz Opp said...

I can tell you that among the FLGBTQC group, we were told on Monday afternoon that the High School program was discerning whether to attend the witness or not.

One Friend in particular had asked that we hold the High School program in the Light, given the logistics—and the Spirit—involved to reschedule the out-trip.

So yes, there was a general awareness, at least for a sizeable number of us already on the lawn when you all arrived, of how you found yourselves to be among us, and vice versa.

Oh, and I was among the 50-60 Friends at that intergenerational-dialogue interest group you mention. It was energizing, to say one thing; and I believe it affirms what Danny, Martin, and others are lifting up, about young Friends' place, presence, and eldership in the renewal and revitalization of a Spirit-led Quakerism.

Liz, The Good Raised Up

13/7/05 11:44 PM  
Blogger Claire said...

Ah, so many lines of communication seem a little off these days;

we were told on Monday afternoon that the High School program was discerning whether to attend the witness or not.

Now it is clear that we were more discerning how to allow those who wanted (or needed) to attend to do so, and how we as young Friends could be supportive of the issue.

Also, many thanks for the Light. I wasn't sure if many outside the HS program were aware of what we were struggling with on Monday, and it's comforting know of that support.

Update on my computer: I mentioned at the end of one of these posts about how my computer may never live again due to power cord issues. While I do still have a screwy power cord (it requires jiggling sometimes for it to work), I noticed yesterday when I got back to my apt. that the cord wasn't even plugged into the wall - needless to say, a major problem when trying to get power. So, feeling a little stupid and a little relieved, I plugged it in, turned on my computer, jiggled the cord-computer connection a lot at first, then when necessary, to get it to work, and then relaxed and used the internet at my leisure. Whew

Love and Light

14/7/05 8:26 AM  
Blogger Danny said...


I'm itching all over to hear about the youth ministries stuff. But I agree that, alas, it probably won't fit into this series. I'm sure you will get to it in your own good time.

I'll be in Asheville next week. But I dont think the two minutes before your meeting a few days ago exactly counted for a good conversation. so.



14/7/05 3:37 PM  
Blogger Claire said...

Danny - yes, sometime in these last short weeks of summer (I move back to Durham in 4 weeks) we should get together! It was good to meet you in person, though, however briefly.

18/7/05 12:17 AM  

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