Archive for March, 2008

The end of some things and the beginning of more

March 30, 2008

I woke in the morning in a room of straw. Sunlight glanced through the wide window, and I rose, rested and glad of the day. The last day of my last Young Friends camp for the rest of my life.

I should feel sad but I just don’t. I don’t even feel quite the sense of completion I thought I might. I simply feel content, sure and happy with the experience having unfolded exactly in the way it did.

This path I began in 2004 has filled my life with love I had never envisaged or expected. The connection to these people has become not so much an experience, or something I posses, but just part of who I am, part of the fabric of this wonderful life.

To me this camp felt gentle, warm, calm as a slow moving river in the middle of summer. We sang, ate, worked and worshiped. I laughed with these beautiful people in the springtime of their lives.

Meeting the son of my first love and getting to know him as a friend was an unexpected pleasure. Seeing him instantly accepted by others as if he’d been coming for years filled my heart with a sense of joy I find it difficult to describe.

Even as some things come to an end new things begin.

Meeting Emily from Canberra and realizing we have a whole lifetime of Quaker events, conversations and sharing ahead of us made saying goodbye the start of something rather than the end. It seemed fitting that she was the last person I said farewell to at the airport.

I know now that ending my participation in YF business and YF camps doesn’t mean ending these friendships, or being in some way part of this community as it flows into the wider Quaker world.

When YF Camp finished four of us cycled to the train in Masterton. The day shone as we rode through the rolling hills, and I could think of no place I would rather be. Riding with friends in the sun, sharing our journey for a way, and knowing that in time we will share it again.

Small and simple acts

March 15, 2008

Whenever I’m walking in Christchurch or Wellington my rule is that if I can see a piece of litter and a rubbish bin at the same time I’ll pick up the former and put it in the latter. Sometimes I extend this if I can’t see a bin but am fairly sure there’ll be one soon.

When I was in Sydney last week I found this was much harder. There was so much litter it would have taken me twice as long to get anywhere. I ended up not picking up any as it just didn’t seem like I’d be making any sort of dent in it. Over a couple of days it faded into the background and I stopped noticing it at all.

Another thing that was different from the NZ cities I spend time in was the number of homeless people. Not just in the parks but lying down on footpaths, sitting in gutters, shaking and bereft while hundreds of people walked past them every few minutes.

While out for a run it struck me that the problem is the same. While there are probably a similar number of homeless people per capita in Christchurch and Sydney, in a densely populated city you just see more of them every day. Because they seem more numerous a type of ‘learned helplessness’ sets in among the people that could help. There are just so many homeless people, what difference could one act of kindness really make? So people go about their busy days, and before too long the people lying in the gutter just fade into the background.

People are not litter. They do not deserve to be cast aside, forgotten and alone. What can we do to pick up those whom others have dropped? What are the small things we could do everyday? What would the world be like if even one in every ten people picked up a few pieces of litter, and did something to help the less fortunate among us?