“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.