Monday, July 9, 2012

Preparing for NCYM-C

It's a little hard for me to believe that I am going to North Carolina tomorrow.  This past week has been kind of crazy, between the half-marathon, my mom visiting, and a family friend's wedding in Hood River.  This evening, I emptied my overnight bag into the laundry and when that is done drying, everything is going into another suitcase for my trip across the country.

I am really looking forward to North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative) annual sessions.  When I have told people where I am going, I have gotten some strange looks at the word "conservative."  I say that it does not mean politically conservative.  The yearly meeting's introductory letter explains the name in more detail:
The Yearly Meeting is “Conservative” in that it values deeply the statements, words, and practices of those who have come before us, with the concern that change for the sake of change has the possibility of losing treasures we were unconscious were there. But change does happen. We have a living faith. The Yearly Meeting is not politically or socially conservative in the secular sense of that word.
I first connected with Friends from NCYM-C when I began the School of the Spirit in the fall of 2009.  Since then, I have wanted to visit their yearly meeting sessions and I am thrilled to be able to go this year.  I am looking forward to seeing friends, teachers, classmates, ministers, and elders.  I am also excited to see friends from other branches of Friends while I am visiting (there are a lot of kinds of Quakers in North Carolina!).

In looking over the schedule for NCYM-C annual sessions, I noticed a few things right away:
  • The Bible study is at a time when everyone can go.  It is not too early or late, and not scheduled at the same time as anything else.  That makes it feel like the Bible study is a part of the annual session instead of tacked on, as they sometimes are.
  • There is a space reserved for contemplative prayer during free time (I love this!).
  • Snacks!  Each evening, a couple meetings are responsible for providing snacks for the group.  Since 9pm will feel like 6pm to me, I am sure I will be glad to have something to eat then.
  • The annual sessions begin and end with worship.
My only official task while I am at NCYM-C is to perform in a play that I have been in once before, so that doesn't require much advance preparation.  Other than highlighting my lines and coordinating transportation, the main way I have been preparing for the yearly meeting is by praying.
  • I have been praying for everyone attending the annual session, that our hearts and minds will be prepared to listen to God and listen to each other.
  • I have been praying for my friend Charley B, who wrote the play, that everything will go smoothly as she prepares and directs the play.
  •  I have been praying for Friends in NCYM-C who are grieving, after learning via facebook that an elder in the yearly meeting passed away yesterday morning.
  • I have been praying that, if God gives me a message while I am visiting, I will be faithful and deliver it clearly.
  • I have been praying for safe travels, joyful reunions, and that we would all experience the presence of the living God during our time together.
 And although I will not be able to attend the yearly meetings in my part of the country this summer, North Pacific Yearly Meeting and Northwest Yearly Meeting are in my prayers as well.  I know that both yearly meetings are doing important discernment, and I am praying for strength and courage for friends who are speaking at the yearly meetings.

I would appreciate your prayers for me as I travel and for all Friends who are gathering this summer.

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