09 August 2010

Are You Ready?

At the end of the week at Annual Sessions, what I could honestly admit was that I had not been ready when I arrived.  I'd skipped the retreat for financial reasons, and so I entered the first day of business in the large auditorium of the performing arts center, a new venue for us, less than spiritually grounded.  Almost every other year since I've started attending the full week of Annual Sessions, I've made the retreat a part of my routine and I can now say that is a necessity for me.  It sets the pace and spiritually sets one into the setting God expects for a worshipful attitude. Without it, I felt I was not on course with the rest of the sailors.

The other thing I did differently was to get a single room.  My reasoning was that I wanted the privacy to write and blog more during the course of the week.  This was my intent, however, I should have planned ahead of time in this case to connect with others that I wanted to converse with.  Since I was not coming to sessions with a traveling companion as in years before, I found that in times I had alone, I missed the time taken to process with my companion, and I lacked a person to do so with.  My friends from Hopewell Centre who were in attendance at BYM were very involved with their own committee work, and I ended up with a lot of alone time on my hands and instead of writing, I ended up reading or sleeping.  One could make a case that I needed that time too, but being the extrovert I am, I realized that process time before writing time is a must for me. 

By the end of the week, I connected up with the folks in the Intervisitation Committee Lounge, and that is when I finally felt grounded.  As much as I'm trying to cultivate the introvert side of my personality, it was in the conversations with this group, listening as much as conversing, that I finally began to make sense of all the input from my week.  I needed the hearty back and forth with people to begin making sense of how all the pieces of the week fit together.  And yes, fitting the pieces together is an important thing to me.  Some are content to let the pieces be the pieces. but to me, there must always be a reason to the rhyme, and aha! there came to be so. I also realized that intervisitation ought to be on my list fo first things to do when I move on eventually from being Clerk of my monthly meeting, as there's so much to be gained from the interchange with others from outside our own area.

Are you ready?  Was the question asked by the narrator, writer and founder of the Theatre for Transformation, Dr. Amanda Kemp, as she took us on the slave journey based on the correspondence of black poet Phyllis Wheatley and slave Obour Tanner In Sister, Friend an incredible theatrical performance which young and old alike experienced on Wednesday afternoon.  We of BYM had taken up that call as our own by the end of the week, asking each other, "Are you ready,": as we embarked on each new piece of business, whether it be settling the books, doing business with young Friends, writing a minute to the US president, or having fun at the coffeehouse.

So much to say...about what we learned about our own limitations in confrontating our racism and classism, about the Young Friends and how they continue to teach us; about the growth between liberal and conservative Friends and how we are learning to love and respect each other, about my own experience with being eldered and learning to season my words before I speak, about balancing budgets and moral vs financial imperatives.  I could and will go on and on... but not here and now.   The theme of Baltimore Yearly Meeting's Annual Sessions was the Lessons Learned from History.  On the surface,  it looked like we were talking about racism, but the lessons went so much deeper than that.  Oh my!  I have so much to tell you!

So as I bring that all out, "Obedient to the Light" will be an active blog again, and I will welcome your feedback and conversation too!  A blog is not a blog without dialogue.  It was certainly a pleasure to see so many of you at annual sessions and it will be a pleasure to keep up the conversation here and on your blogs and on facebook as well. (And incidentally, on the blogs which our friend Jim Rose has set up for each and every BYM meeting at the bym website!)

Blessings to you all.