Sunday, July 24, 2005

Gathering follow-up.

Before I move on to other things, I need to post about the day or two following my return from Gathering. That's what this post is.

Note: I've made three edits to previous posts of my Gathering series. I added a photo of the Nominating Committee, a copy of the letter sent out to all High School Program participants, parents, and sponsors, and two images from the Eyes Wide Open exhibit.

When I went to bed Saturday night after returning from Gathering, I had in my mind two needs to balance: Meeting for Worship in the morning, and Sleep. I decided that my first priority was my physical health, which in this case meant I needed to put sleep first. I went to bed between 8 and 9 pm Saturday night (VERY early for me) with the decision that if I woke up of my own accord (no alarm or parental wake-up call) in time to make it to Meeting, I would go.

Sunday morning I woke up and was ready to get out of bed at 9:50am. Meeting here begins at 10am. Luckily for me, my Mom's house (where I returned to after Gathering before going back to my apt.) is about a 3 minute drive from the meetinghouse. The moment I looked at my watch I knew I was going to Meeting, and was very glad for this. In my Post-Gathering Self Check-in post, I had posed a number of questions to which I needed to begin searching for answers, such as, how do I return to my monthly meeting and sit in worship without that intensely deep sense of community and love that all of us young Friends experienced together this past week?

As I settled in to worship, I began reflecting upon my experiences from Gathering. My heart began to pound once again. I felt similarly to how I'd felt during the final HS Meeting for Worship - not necessarily in the community sense, but in the sense that I felt very strongly. I began to question whether or not I had a leading to speak, but with extra patience, as my experience in the final HS Meeting for Worship had felt a little off. This particular Meeting for Worship felt quite gathered - moreso than any other I remember experiencing here, and Friends began to speak messages. Some centered around the recent London bombings - I don't remember so clearly the details of these messages, but I remember hearing concerns about hatred and division, and other things that seemed to fit in with that, generally (details are very foggy for me now; it's been two weeks). With each message given, my heart raced faster for a few moments and I searched more deeply to see if I had a message. Gathering was very clearly and strongly in my heart.

Finally, one Friend rose and began a message - in the instant he began to speak I knew, knew, I needed to speak, and I had an idea about what, but no particular words planned. Usually when I'm commenting about something in a group, especially a large one, I have something rather clearly planned out. I was very aware that a planned out message in my mind was probably not a true, spirit-led message. This message of mine took little thought. When I rose to speak I was shaking (quaking), and words about the high school community at Gathering poured from me. I spoke of how we encountered a major issue, possibly a very divisive issue, and rather than becoming divided, we bonded over it and became a more close community. This felt like a true message, and I sat down, very aware that this was the first time I ever felt strongly led to speak in any Meeting for Worship of a monthly meeting.

After I sat down again, there were a few more minutes of Worship, and then it was closed. I looked at my watch and realized that it was 11:05 - I had spoken right at the end of the meeting; it had gone by so quickly! The intensity of this particular Meeting for Worship was a wonderful welcome home, and made me feel much less alone. Many Friends came to me during fellowship and thanked me for my message, some mentioning how powerful it was. This was certainly a new experience for me.

Gathering has affected me deeply - it has affected me increasingly so every year. It will remain with me for a long time as I hold these experiences close to my heart and remember them with all the joy and pain and love that was there, and is here, always.

Love and Light,


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