[Sayma-Discuss] [afmdiscussion] Thanks
freepolazzo at comcast.net
Wed Jun 22 12:10:17 EDT 2011
Thank you Mike and everyone else who attended the SAYMA (Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and Association (SAYMA) yearly meeting. As one of the friends who has been urging you to come back to YM for years, I was happily surprised to see you at YM. Your long absence left a hole in our tapestry that nobody filled. I also enjoyed seeing you play with your granddaughter and daughter, as side of you I hadn’t seen before. I realize that it a burden to travel distances and appreciate that way opened that you could attend. As you have heard me say, I take the meaning of “Friends” to literally mean “friend”. You and I have become friends over the years and I thank the Atlanta Meeting and SAYMA for making that possible. I miss going to meeting on a regular basis as I am sure there a many “friends” I don’t know, who could be sharing my spiritual journey with whom I am not yet acquainted. Maybe that’s the definition of a healthy meeting: More Friends than one can be-friend
It is the Religious Society of Friends who are blessed when Friends attend Yearly Meeting. We can do events like Quaker Quest and have committees like outreach to help us attack new folks to meeting. Yet it is the individual Friends who attend a Friends Meeting and how they live their lives between First Days, as well as how we treat each other and the stranger in Meeting that define “Quakerism” in the city or town the meeting draws from. Meeting need a sense of unity but also need to allow for more and more diversity of all kinds, in order for us to attract new folks. We like to call it making the circle bigger. So, what if someone wants us to be a square? What then? I don’t know, but I trust that our Friendly processes can handle anything that comes our way. If we don’t believe that, we might (even inadvertently) send signals to newcomers that say “you don’t belong here”. It doesn’t take much to run folks off. Each of us in meeting could be the first (and last) Quaker that a new attender might speak with.
The more involvement Friends (even in a large meeting like Atlanta) have with Friends from other meetings, the greater the chance that we can retain the folks that we attract and (dare I say it?) perhaps even retain our own children and grandchildren as part of our spiritual community we call the “Religious Society of Friends”. I needed more diversity than even a “large” meeting like Atlanta provides and Yearly Meeting is the right size (and cost) to do that. While there are other gatherings, none are gathered to meet to discern the sense of a meeting, which I believe is when the rubber hits the road. Our process in Meeting for Business differentiates us from most all other faiths and to see it in action for three (partial) days running is awesome. Until we find the “edge” of an issue we can’t really know where we are and where we as a group are and perhaps discern where we may need to go.
I would ask Friends and attenders who have never attended a SAYMA yearly meeting ( www.sayma.org ) to consider attending in 2012. We return to Warren Wilson College,( about 20 miles east of Asheville, NC) from June 7 thru 10th. I’ve already put it on my calendar and recommend you speak to others who have been to Yearly Meeting recently so you can get some other idea about what to expect.
Looking forward to visiting with you and to meeting some “new” Friends at SAYMA’s YM in 2012!
Your “supernatural” Friend
From: afmdiscussion at yahoogroups.com [mailto:afmdiscussion at yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of M. C. Mykel
Sent: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 10:55 PM
To: afmdiscussion at yahoogroups.com
Subject: [afmdiscussion] Thanks
Thank you Atlanta Friends for helping me get to Yearly Meeting this year. I
appreciate the financial help and also the personal encouragement I received
from several of you. As some of you know I had attended Yearly Meeting many
times in the past but not for the last ten years so this was an opportunity
to spend time with some of you and also renew some old friendships with
others I had not seen in a long time. I also found time to make some
wonderful new friendships as well. Best of all it was a chance to be a
Quaker again in a way that I have been missing.
I first attended Yearly Meeting at Warren Wilson almost 40 years ago. In
that time I have changed and I think so have most Friends. It seems that we
are less enthralled by tradition and mythology and are less dogmatic and
self righteous. (I didn’t hear George Fox mentioned once all weekend.) I
also have the sense that more of us are willing to challenge some of
Quakerisms sacred cows and are also more willing to lay down the burdens of
supernaturalism and magical thinking. I hope I am right.
The early morning Silent Meeting for Worship in the Pavilion next to the
formal gardens was as profound and moving as any I have ever experienced.
The Business Meetings and Workshops, as always, left me feeling troubled
with few answers and many questions which is as it should be. Fortunately,
it seems to me, that most of the important discussions, insights and
decisions are made during the regularly scheduled Meetings for Eating,
sitting in the shade or on walks down by the creek.
I can’t help but compare Warren Wilson College to The Biltmore Estate, the
big tourist attraction down the road. The Biltmore is a huge extravagant
monument to one man’s ego and wealth built many years ago and now visited
by tens of thousands of tourists every year. In my opinion it is an empty
shell of a place, a mausoleum, with no sense of humanity or purpose. Warren
Wilson is a smaller but equally beautiful place and one where hundreds of
people live, study, work and play day in and day out year after year. I may
be overreaching but this seems to have something to say about Friends and
religion in general.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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