This year at CYM there were a lot of conversations about communication and how we share our message. With this in mind, Young Friends also experimented with different modes of communication when writing our epistle. This year’s epistle was collaboratively written through a game sort of like ‘broken telephone.’ We each reflected on something we had experienced at yearly meeting and wrote a sentence about it at the top of a page. The paper was passed in a circle and the next person drew and illustration of the sentence. The original sentence was then folded over so that only the illustration was visible and it was passed again. The next person wrote a caption for what they saw in the illustration, folded over the illustration so that only their caption was visible and passed it on. The paper continued to be folded and passed around the circle until we reached the end of the page. We hope you enjoy our collaborative epistle, and the adventures that sprang from our reflections on this week.
“I saw there was an Ocean of darkness and Death, but an infinite Ocean of Light and Love which flowed over the Ocean of Darkness.”
– George Fox
This year’s Canadian Young Friends Yearly Meeting was significantly aided by Canadian Yearly Meeting’s generous funding to help Young Friends get to Kemptville for the Youth Challenge. The week was both intensely rewarding and difficult.
Friends of all ages started arriving in Kemptville, Ontario on Friday. There was an inter-generational mixer on Saturday evening. Sunday started with a welcoming meeting for worship for business, and we spent most of the day getting to know each other. Caroline Balderston Parry gave the annual Sunderland P. Gardner Lecture in the evening. We appreciated the interactive elements of the speech. Her ministries provided guidance through some of the difficulties over the week as we dealt with being in the “I don’t know” place.
Monday through Friday, there was a variety of programming for Young Friends and Young Adult Friends. Rick Townsend ran the teen programme in the afternoons. We appreciate Rick’s help and his awesome beard and apologize for dropping him in a trust exercise. YFs and YAFs were brought together in morning workshops. On Monday and Tuesday, Evalyn Parry ran a well-attended and well-received songwriting workshop on responding creatively to outrage. We wrote songs on everything from a lack of skate parks to gender roles. Thursday and Friday, Janet Ross ran a workshop on privilege and power. On all four days, a workshop on communication was given by Tony and Fran McQuail. Those of us who attended learned about reflective listening, conflict resolution, and firm but loving looks.
After the morning programming, many YFs and YAFs attended Ben Pink Dandelion’s Quaker Study sessions. We are so glad that they were scheduled later in the day than usual. It was great to learn about Quaker history, faith and practice in a way that was accessible to us. Afternoons consisted of Special Interest Groups and Special Action Groups, the most popular being the SIG for Sloth, which was much needed.
On Monday evening, there was an LGBTQ2A panel and discussion. We talked about generational differences in perceptions around and attitudes towards sexuality. This event was followed by our first Meeting for Worship for Business which was hard for everyone as we heard the Youth Secretary’s final report. We were up until 2 in the morning sharing intense feelings of anger, sadness, confusion, but mostly love. Katrina McQuail was deeply missed.
Tuesday evening consisted of a huge inter-generational frisbee game followed by Games Night.
On Wednesday, the regular youth programme was interrupted to let us attend CYM M4W4B as the Youth Secretary report was read. We spent the afternoon giving back to the Kemptville community by volunteering at the youth center. We were so productive–we even accidentally did some work for the neighbours! We had a complicated simple meal which was much more satisfying than any of the simple complicated meals we had become accustomed to. At that night’s Meeting for Worship for Business, we invited more seasoned Friends to come hold us in the Light. Grayden Laing and Stephen Robins attended Yearly Meeting Ministry & Counsel as CYFYM representatives. We finished on time (a record!) which meant we could have a dance party followed by a late night dip.
Thursday afternoon, Deborah Fisch clerked a Meeting for Worship Sharing set up by Continuing Meeting of Ministry and Counsel in regard to the Youth Secretary’s report. Many of us attended and were thankful for the caring way in which Deborah facilitated emotional sharing that lead us to a greater understanding and acceptance of what Katrina had written in her report to us. After supper, there was singing in the laundry room, and our penultimate M4W4B. We finished the evening with a riveting game of wink.
Friday was very relaxed. We continued with the programming, then had a final meeting for business with spillover from the night before. After business meeting, Ben Pink Dandelion joined us for an intimate discussion where we were encouraged to ‘ask a Quaker anything’. Family Night was a fitting end to the week with many members of the community participating in balancing as well as sharing music and poetry. The rest of the night was filled with revelry and songs, enjoying each others’ company. We watched movies as we had no-one to read us bedtime stories.
Saturday morning’s exhaustion was balanced by the exhilaration of epistle writing. We would like to thank everyone for upholding us this week in times both joyous and trying. We all feel truly blessed to have been a part of this CYM.
Stephen Robins, Misia Robins, Christopher Abbott, Lucy Miller and Jesse Zavitz served as the 2013 CYFYM Epistle Committee.
We all gathered together on the first day of CYM with the presence of this year’s teen coordinator, the lovely Janet Ross, and with the intermediate friends coordinator, Teresa Engler. We had an interesting morning talking about cycles, and relationships with nature, and people around us. Monday night was our first ‘unofficial’ business meeting. However, as time passed, the unofficial meeting became more interesting in the new approach that we were coming up with, due to Peter Stevenson’s thoughts towards the efficiency of the meeting, as it has been an issue in the past that the meetings were getting too long, and were uninteresting. The logic behind the possible changes were, that we could potentially join positions together and make it easier for nominating committee as well as reducing the time of our business meetings. If this is to take place, it will leave us with more time to discuss what, as YAFs and YFs is more important to us.
Tuesday morning was started with Worship sharing and because this years’ group is larger, we split off into three groups. After a short snack we gathered back in room 112 and listened to Vince Zelazny. He explained what he did with his work career in forestry. After, we headed out into the great outdoors, and found different species of plants and critters. We identified each species with the help Vince Zelazny, and Rebecca Ivanoff. We learned about the Milkweed plant, as well as Plantain and many others. The afternoon went by in a blur we were joined by Tasmin Rajott and her Earth Loom to learn about the commons. The strings were our individual commons. After everyone’s string was attached we were informed that later on in the week, we would play a ‘game’ where we would weave our tapestry and complete the Loom. After that presentation we had the honor of Ellen Gabriel who came to talk to us about her People, and their struggles. She also told us how her People believed that the moon was their Grandmother, the sun was their Elder Brother and the earth was the Mother. She also talked about the outline of the OKA crisis.
Worship sharing was again the start to Wednesday morning, followed by the traditional Sex talk with Bill Curry and Dale Dewar. The YFs and the YAFs were divided into different groups, for the appropriate match of the age, with information. The afternoon was wonderful, playing in the sun and tie-dying. All youth friends were involved, and the t-shirts as you might have recognized were fabulous! In the evening most of us went to the SPG lecture. Then cake was cut, in celebration of the 30th anniversary, of the Quaker Book Store, and the service of Vernon and Dana Mullen. Later in the evening Maggie Knight took the opportunity to interview youth, in a group for her Quaker Youth Journalism Project. Truths, laughs, support, emotions, and cake were shared among friends.
On Thursday various YFs and YAFs attended different business meetings, participating and gathering more information around several topics, such as Israel/Palestine, and the debate involving FUM. Starting at 7:30 pm the teen group had our first Official business meeting. We set ourselves a goal as to complete most items on the agenda by dark. Everything went smoothly and we only went about 40 minutes over time, which we regarded as a major accomplishment. Of course as any young friend would say, the night was still young and would not be complete with the annual game of Wink with the added plus of running in the thunder storm.
Friday started like the rest of the week with Worship Sharing groups, Debora Fisch came to talk to us about FUM. In the afternoon Meredith Egan came to talk about Victims of crime, and how it is important to be with each other when we may be hurting.
All in all this CYM has been an extremely positive and peaceful week. By supporting each other and loving one another, we can achieve anything. We look forward to learning more about the various committees’ and problems in our world, and what we can do as Young Friends to help. This year’s theme was ‘Friends with Mother Earth’. We did just that. This week was about slowing down, taking the time because all around you there are opportunities. When we take time and slow down it helps us recognize the chances we get in life. We can reach for those opportunities and make it something special. We can turn it into something unique, something that a Young Quaker Friend can do. Young Friends will always be with each other, supporting each other, and loving each other. Thanks for the wonderful memories, and the peaceful week!