July 6, 2008

Report on FGC Gathering 2008 - Part 1

This year's summer Gathering was, for me, unremarkable.

That's in the sense of having nothing or little to say.

There was nothing terrific that happened for me, http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifand neither was there anything horrible that happened.

I didn't stay in a workshop; I didn't have a structured morning routine (because I didn't stay in a workshop!); and I had committee responsibilities for Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns (FLGBTQC), which also reduced my free time.

Nevertheless, there were a few highlights--or not-so-low-lights--that I can report on.

One-on-one with Jan Hoffman

Back in November 2007, I met Friend Jan Hoffman at a Traveling Ministries Program consultation organized by FGC.

While there, Jan and I had a few brief moments during which she affirmed in me a gift of eldership. We also spoke about how I might gain support for some writing I have been putting off. Shortly after we each returned home, we lost touch and I mostly put aside our conversations.

So when Jan passed me in a corridor last week, stopped me to say hello, and asked me how the writing was going, I froze: I hadn't anticpated her remembering anything about me, since I hadn't heard from her after November.

We ended up putting aside time during the week for the two of us to get together, and we met for about an hour one morning.

After settling into a bit of silence, we spoke with one another about our respective care-and-accountability committees, and the importance of having our monthly meetings hear reports from these committees, or from Ministry & Counsel, about the movement of the Spirit.

I also mentioned to Jan that already that week, a number of Friends had been encouraging me to offer again what is fondly known as "the Shadow workshop," which I had offered at three Gatherings in the late 1990s. Formally, was titled "Bringing Our Shadow into the Light" and was a transformative experience for many who participated in it.

It was a workshop I also loved doing, simply because I got to witness the growth and transformation of the participants, which in turn both grew me and humbled me.

I explained to Jan that I also was considering proposing the more recent workshop on Quaker identity that I had developed and offered in 2005.

The workshop on the shadow is something that the community seems to be wanting to draw out from me; the workshop on Quaker identity reflects the concern that I have been carrying, about conveying our faith and looking at what sustains us as Friends.

Jan and I held together the question of whether I was to propose a workshop for 2009--fewer than 60 workshops are likely to be offered next year, given the projected enrollment--and if so, what might it be?

I found myself wondering what a workshop entitled The Good Raised Up might entail, so I'll have to let that possibility speak to me as well...


It's been about eight years since I last played volleyball during Gathering. The group I used to play with was tight-knit and pretty decent, as far as a non-competitive pick-up game goes. We would play for two hours straight and then head to dinner together.

One of the regulars was Doug. He's tall, with a big head of hair and a smile that spreads across his face. Doug is the type of person who pulls out the best in people, simply by his presence and a kind word inserted at just the right moment.

After I stopped playing volleyball, I would see Doug about every other Gathering, and he would ask me if I would make it to volleyball.

But I was getting older and was putting more energy into nurturing my relationship with my partner. Me and my kneepads weren't gonna make it to the volleyball court.

And then a couple of years ago, I started to work out and get into better shape. I still didn't think of volleyball, though.

Until this year.

There were two lovely sand volleyball courts that I passed everyday, either between lunch and Meeting for Worship or between dinner and the evening plenary. Sometimes, there'd be one of those great pick-up games going on...

And there was Doug.

Each time he passed me in the early part of the week, he'd ask me, "Are you coming to volleyball?"

By the fourth day, Doug had worn me down. It was also the first sunny, fairly dry day of the Gathering, and I folded: "Okay... Yes, I'll come play volleyball."

Doug grinned; I cringed. What had I just gotten myself into? I wondered.

I had the best time!
I was amazed how readily my body remembered how to judge the ball's trajectory and speed in relation to my own ability to move from side to side or even to drop to my knees for a dig.

I also marveled at how words like "Mine!" and "I go!" and "Help me!" broke forth from me like a song from the mouth of a Sacred Harp singer.

I was tempted to play a second day, but I ended up conserving my energy, since I still had a trip to North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative) to make!

Other news

I'm intending to write a second post that will cover the interest group on Convergent Friends and a few other items, including a session I attended about a new way to approach First Day School, called Faith and Play, based on Godly Play. Stay tuned!


UPDATE: I have completed my subsequent post. Some other posts about the 2008 Gathering can be found here.

1 comment:

Linda said...

I never thought I'd hear a metaphor linking volleyball and Sacred Harp. I am impressed!