Archive for May, 2006

Focus

May 28, 2006

So, after two good nights sleep, falling asleep in Meeting twice today, then a long afternoon nap I'm feeling 1000% better.

I've been thinking about this 'travelling in the Ministry' business. Having agreed to take on the role of YF communications/outreach I'd kind of imagined it'd mean setting up a few email lists, doing web site stuff and maintaining the national YF address list. Somehow it's actually worked out as seeing lots of Friends all over the country. Mostly this is because my work takes me to Wellington lots, and to other centres from time to time.

Over the last year or so I'd just kind of started staying with Quakers rather than work colleagues, as I found it much more restfull. Simply talking about totally different things than work in the evening made a difference to my energy, plus there's all the care and hugs that come with staying with Quakers.

While it's a lot, that's not really enough though to explain why I feel so enthuasiastic about this role. I want to contribute to JYF and YF so when my kids get there it's really strong. I want to help give to the life and depth of this community. I want it to grow. Sometimes this almost feels like it might risk being something like evangelism. Is that wrong? Is it unquakerly to want our faith to grow, to be strong, resilient, and healthy?

There's lots to make sense of in this role. If anyone has useful ideas or information about what's good to do in Quaker outreach I'd love to hear about it.

Blur

May 25, 2006

This morning I'm feeling in a blur.  The amount of travelling I've been doing recently I'm never quite certain when I first wake up what city I'm in. With the number and depth of conversations and spiritual/emotional journeying that come with and alongside this all, time does seem to have been compressed, like I've lived two years in five months.  I'd kind of like a rest…

Robot dogs and other people’s dinners

May 17, 2006

I've been running in the evening.  It gets dark about 6pm at the moment, and I'm often out till about 6:30pm.  The air is cold and the shadows merge together into night.  There are still some people out walking.  Twice in the last week I've seen a red light at about thigh height bouncing along in the dark.  It took me a while to figure out that it was a dog, out running with its owner.  The dog had a red blinking light on its collar, I guess to stop it being hit by cars in the dark.

As I run around the river, past people's houses I can smell different dinners cooking.  It makes me wonder about the lives lived in each of those homes.  It's funny how in the quiet of the evening I can feel more connected to people in my city than in the bustle of a busy street in town…

Pillar of light

May 14, 2006

On Tuesday morning a dear Friend in our Meeting died.  I got a call early in the morning to tell me the news, and burst into tears.  I was surprised by the intensity of my reaction.  I had become quite friendly with Richard over the last two years.  His ministry I always enjoyed, and I loved the dry sense of humor he used when requesting helpers for the tea roster.  We’d had some interesting chats about things biblical of which his knowledge was vast.  He was in his early 80s though, and it was his time to go.  Why then was I so affected?  Over the last few days I’ve been trying to make sense of this.  Some of it is perhaps a similarity to Mum’s death.  Richard had a deep compassion for people, very similar to Judith.  He approached death with a pragmatism, with no outward signs of fear or the need for pity or sympathy.  He was lively and active until right near the end, then went quickly, just like Mum did.

From his hospital bed Richard volunteered to help redraft the guidelines for financial assistance, which had become a somewhat contentious issue in the Meeting.  He had just recently been told that he hadn’t long to live, yet he still was committed to the needs of others.  I think it was this that hit me the most, rather than any similarities with Mum.  Richard always sat across from where I normally sit at Meeting.  When he stood to give ministry I always felt a sense of anticipation, what he said almost always spoke to me in some way.  He was tall and lean, white a shock of white hair.  I see him now as such a pillar of the Meeting, a voice of reason and compassion.  I guess I expected him to always be there.  And now he is gone, and I am sad. 

I don’t know how we will fill the gap that Richard left.  I don’t know who will work quietly behind the scenes with compassion and love, keeping us all together.  I don’t know who will now speak about the bible with such a deep spirit, and I don’t know who will recite poetry by heart.  I don’t know who will gently and dryly jibe us about the tea roster.

When a big tree falls in the forest, it leaves way for more light for the saplings below.  I hope the light that Richard has shared with us, the love he has given us will help us fill this gap.

Dying to sing

May 7, 2006

A Friend in our Meeting has been told he has only a few months to live. He's in his 70s and it's not too much of a surprise. The depth of ministry and emotion in Meeting today wasn't really a surprise either. He has always been a voice of reason and compassion, deeply knowedgeable about the bible and spiritual writings, and a wonderful sense of humour too. Just before receiving the prognosishe volunteered from his hospital bed to be part of a working group to deal with a very contentious issue in the Meeting. He feels like one of the pillars of our Meeting to me and it is sad that it's time for him to go.

His approach to life, and people's reaction to him are reminding me a lot of my mother. Living with Cancer was something she did for 9 years. She was never dying from it, she chose to live. And when it came time to die she did that properly too. She did it with a full sense of awareness, and compassion for those around her.

In Meeting today, right near the end a man spoke and sang 'Te Aroha'. Many people joined in. It is so rare to have song in our Meeting, but it felt totally appropriate, a celebration of the love for others that embues our dying Friend's life.

It made me think of a passage from The Prophet that I read at Mum's funeral:

"For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance."

I know it is time for our Friend to go, I am sad, but I hope and believe that he will sing and dance, in whatever comes next…