NEYM=New England Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quaker) in Smithfield, RI.
This will be my 6th NEYM and the 5th time as a resource person (RP) for the Young Friends (high school) group.
As an RP, I serve as a FAP (friendly adult presence) helping oversee activities, being present for worship and meeting for worship with attention to business. I also co-lead an Affinity Group (this time with the amazing Anna B!) that meets nightly for check-ins, discussions, games and snacks..
Early on I learned two key lessons when working with Quaker teens.
1. I am judged by the quality of the snacks I provide.
2. Respect that of God within them and let them lead as the RPs facilitate.
I also learned early on that these teens don’t want or even need advice from me. They get that all the time. They want to be heard, and they want to hear each other without a lot of talk by well-meaning adults. Therefore, my role is to help maintain a safe space where that sort of sharing takes place.
This year will be different from past years because we lost a recent graduate in a car accident this winter, and we will have a memorial for Chris during our sessions.
I feel honored to be with these young Friends, to see them grapple with spiritual, social justice and personal questions.
I set my intentional to be present with them and to limit my time on-line and on the phone. Lots of other folks will be busy this week sharing their ex-gay experiences around the country (can’t tell you anything yet, but you will hear more next week).
My part this week is to be present, to stay open to the Spirit and these young Friends, to listen deeply, be slow to speak as I trust God to be in our midsts.