After giving feedback from the breakout session- you know the drill- I had my best compliment for some time. The woman said she heard her exact words, said forcefully to get the idea over, and it was as if I was acting her, saying them. This is what I desire, to hear what others say, rather than merely forming an impression. I said would you like a hug. Wonderful later to read Octavia Butler stating what I seek to avoid: she listened to what I told her and, I suppose, heard it according to her own experience. So often, people do, and the clerk must avoid that.
The weekend was magical because of H’s dinner party, but I went to London for the AM clerks’ conference. The thing which I will take away and consider encouraging is the Testimony, the biographies that we write about our deceased members: the “Testimony to the Grace of God in the life of”-
This can be difficult. Some AMs produce Testimonies for everyone, because they feel that our Testimony to Equality requires it. Others do it for no-one. One AM had lasting unhappiness because a Friend who had been particularly active and Spirit-led moved to be close to his children. So the people in his new AM had not known him, and did not write a Testimony.
One AM has a Book of Remembrance: every person gets two or three paragraphs recorded about their life. Some get a longer Testimony. Some but not all of these are sent to Friends House, and included in the Epistles and Testimonies part of the papers for yearly meeting. Some people find these inspiring, I glance at them. Some are read to the Yearly Meeting in session.
The “lasting unhappiness” is the most memorable thing. One AM- other than South Wales, where I had heard something similar- had a person who had resigned and reapplied for membership, and the visitor opposed granting it and would not give way. That visitor “was, in his own perception, a weighty and seasoned Friend”. The dark irony of the phrase “in his own perception” brought a bitter laugh from me.
Because what we do is Divine, it is so difficult. If we are ever satisfied with the appearance of the Quaker way, or seek the appearance because we cannot find our way to the reality, it becomes hellish.
It was lovely to be with my kind of people. I had the impression that one woman I talked to was particularly wise, and perceptive. Such experiences are blessings to treasure.