Will Alsup agreed to serve as an elder for me for the weekend. We spent some time talking and getting to know each other a little on Friday night. I was scheduled to give my keynote address at 1:30 PM on Saturday afternoon, November 4th. So we agreed to meet after lunch so that we could spend some time worshipping prior to my talk. The title of my talk was Faithful to God's Leading, Moving Toward Wholeness.
Friends listened as I shared my struggle with God about what message I should bring to Friends in Colorado. In addition to that struggle I presented some of my work on the history of racism in the United States of America. After my presentation we had time for a question and answer period. Friends asked several questions. I felt good that they had so many questions.
After my keynote, I also facilitated an interest group. Fortunately my group was in the same room where my talk had been. God was moving very strongly in me that day. I was moved to throw out the design I had come to the Gathering ready to present and design a new one with different exercises. I was led to have the workshop focus on "Whiteness." 14 Friends participated in my interest group. This turned out to be the right area to focus on because Friends were not ready to leave when our time was over. I was willing to stay later, but let Friends know our time was over and gave permission to anyone who had another commitment and needed to leave to do so. No one left the room and we remained there an additional 15 minutes.
Participant in the workshop my workshop: What We Can Learn from Our Past.
Pelican Lee and her partner Rebecca Henderson came from New Mexico to participate in the weekend. Peli and I met in 1994 in Abiqui, New Mexico. Peli and I got a chance to spend time together last winter when she came East to participate in Niyonu's Beyond Diversity 101 workshop at Temenos in March. It was such a wonderful surprise to see them. Their presence also helped me feel less alone.
Rebecca Henderson & Pelican Lee
I was exhausted after my presentation and interest group. I returned to my room instead of going to dinner. I called Barry because I needed to hear and get energy from his voice. He and my mother were at a restaurant celebrating our eldest daughter's birthday. Our brief talk energized me enough to walk to dinner. It was nice that the YMCA had taken my food allergies in account and had a selection of foods in the buffet that I could easily eat. I sat at a small table with two other Friends.
As we walked back from dinner a Friend told me that she appreciated me sharing my struggle with writing my talk. She said she had come ready to argue with whatever I said, but that sharing my the extent to which I wrestled with God for my message made it easier for her to listen to me. Her words were very important to me. I feel vulnerable when I present my work, but this talk made me more vulnerable because I began it with sharing the amount of struggle I went through in writing it.
Later that evening, I attended the Cabaret, the traditional Quaker talent night. Will Alsup along with several other Friends performed. The performances ranged from singing while playing a musical instrument to an elementary school age Friend sharing a joke.
I attended one of the sessions of the business meeting and was surprised to learn that they were in the process of discerning if they should affiliate with Friends General Conference. In a letter dated September 2006, InterMountain Yearly Meeting sent several queries to their constituent monthly meetings for Friends to discuss, season and discern in your Meetings and Worship Groups.
Each Meeting was asked to share the queries along with the accompanying background materials. The yearly meeting requested that they prepare their responses to send to the Continuing Committee meeting. The meetings are to be held at Mountain View Meeting in Denver this coming January 26 and 27. Each of the queries suggested possible action to be taken by the Yearly Meeting. Here is the querie regarding the FGC affiliation:
Affiliation with Friends General Conference
Several Meetings in Arizona Half-Yearly Meeting have asked that our Yearly Meeting give consideration to affiliating with Friends General Conference. Background documents are posted under "Fall 2006 Queries" on the Yearly Meeting website http://imym.org that provide information about FGC, define what it means to formally affiliate with FGC and describe the process of mutual discernment that takes place when a Yearly Meeting or Monthly Meeting expresses interest in affiliation.
The Gathering ended with lunch. As we drove back to Denver I was able to see more of the mountains and countryside in the daylight. When we got into town at Estes Park, we saw a big elk eating in a person's front yard. It was an unusual sight. I was sorry we did not have time to stop for me to take a photograph.
To see more photographs from my trip go to my flickr accout.