Wilma Davidson, Canberra Regional Meeting
Like many other Friends, prior to YM I am involved much of the year preparing and planning and solving problems and answering questions, and at YM itself there are meetings and planning sessions and children’s sessions and JYF camp and All Age MfW preparation, and if I can, I have a chat to distant Friends over meals.
Because of the pleasure of hearing the wisdom of our children and being loved and laughed and teased by the JYFs, and the messages from the old friends I caught up with at YM and the early morning worship and All Age worship – and of course the Quaker way of decision making – I forget the rushing and take away warm memories and ideas.
My fantasy is that I arrive at YM with my timetable marked at the sessions I want to attend, and in between sit with dear distant Friends and a leisurely cup of tea. I spend time occasionally with the children, sharing an activity I’ve planned, or sit in on with the JYFs for an hour or so. I then go to bed after epilogue and awake refreshed to attend the early morning meeting.
Yet for my fantasy to happen other Friends with be responsible for the planning and organising, other Friends will attend meetings and take responsibility and cover the areas I am currently involved with.
I am very aware of the areas I am not involved with – the help desk, the accommodation, anything to do with IT – and marvel at these friends who make up for skills and time I lack. YM only works when our myriad of different skills and interests are pulled together.
At our RM last week we talked about YM and the reasons we attend (or don’t attend) YM. And like many others, I attend to fulfil a sense of community. And I imagine this will be the main reason I attend whether it’s longer or shorter, in winter or summer or split into more than one gathering.
I do enjoy being rugged up to walk briskly to Early MfW on chilly mornings. At JYF camp, there was nothing like the blazing bonfire to draw us together. However I imagine there will be similar moments of comfort and belonging no matter the time, place or size.
Two regular features of YM meant much for me this year:
The Backhouse lecture was enlightening and introduced many new concepts for me to take in. I found particular assistance from the book. I do find the connection between Buddha thinking and the Quaker Way, with focus on presence and impermanence, works for me, and to hear someone who goes even deeper into meditation and silence was refreshing.
State of the society address
Oh what a pleasure to hear the children and JYFs, who they are and what they contribute, named and valued. I know Friends feel a close connection to this (hopefully) next generation of Quakers, however their role within the community as a whole and their contribution within intergenerational forums is important and to be recognised.
Which takes me to the JYF statement, read to a full room by two JYFs. It was such a pleasure to watch the audience and see their reaction to these important words. Through this statement they have told us who they are, what being a Quaker means to them and where they see they fit in the Quaker community. May this inspire us all to ask ourselves these questions.
Now YM is a few weeks gone and threads are still connecting me with people and thoughts and outcomes. I have had time to reflect on its gifts, and also attended a session about the direction options for future YMs. YM in principle is important, this YM was extra special for me because of the excellent venue, however, can we really meet the expectations laid upon us, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, and do all things, be all things in this one week?
We are an ageing community, YM numbers are dropping and less of us are sharing more tasks. Where to now? Maybe we need to ask the children and JYFs what they think.