‘I give thanks for laughter and tears, for sleep and silence’
This vocal ministry from the final session of this yearly meeting summed up the experience for me. There was much laughter, in and out of sessions, and joy at being together, meeting friends old and new, making and re-making connections with one another. There were also tears, and we give thanks for those too. Tears, because, try as we might, we fail to understand one another. Tears, because,try as we might, we can not see how we can give more. Tears of frustration, tears of release. I give thanks too for those who held those who cried, physically and spiritually.
When we open ourselves fully to the spirit in worship, we make ourselves vulnerable, we let go our defences to allow the spirit in and we risk tears, and anger, as well as inspiration and joy.
Considering whether to allow journalists into Yearly Meeting made us very aware of our vulnerability and our need to feel secure in worship together, in order for our business method to work. We found ourselves emboldened to ‘live adventurously’ and to ask that journalists be invited to attend Yearly Meeting in future. Next year we expect to consider sustainability and I personally hope we will make decisions that will be interesting enough to be reported in the media. In another session we also found much to encourage us in continuing to engage with the political process, at all levels, each in our own way.
It was good to hear of the positive progress that has been made towards legal changes in the direction of greater equality for same-sex marriages, and how this has been helped by the clarity of last year’s decision. Another delightful piece of news is that, for the first time since 1993, the tabular statement shows an increase in numbers actively involved in our worshipping communities.
In the closing session of the Meeting I felt myself strongly drawn to Isaac Penington’s words:
‘Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another; but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand.’
Quaker Faith and Pratice