Thursday… More than half way through Canadian Yearly Meeting’s annual gathering! Being on Programme Committee, I’ve been here in Camrose a full week. And yet with the bustle of organized activities, time has flown. This is without mentioning the many enriching opportunities for fellowship. One of the underestimated blessings of CYM in session is the chance for networking, which involves not just catching up with old F/friends but informally facilitating CYM committee work.
The weather has so far held up – sort of! The relatively cool weather (daily maximums of around 20°C) came as a bit of a shock to this southwest Ontarian, but make walks around campus and in the neighbouring park a delight. We are frequently visited by very un-shy deer, sometimes accompanied by fawns, cougars can be heard at night in the residences, and there have been sightings of a cougar and herons along the river, the latter reminding us of the Caroline Balderston Parry’s Sunderland P. Gardner lecture theme at CYM two years ago.
There was somewhat of a setback for me the other day, however, when a major thunderstorm ripped the fly off my tent, but I have just about finished wringing out my clothes and mopping up the resulting puddles on the tent floor.
The last few years at CYM, a black thundercloud seemed to be hovering over our business sessions. This was money. While the achievement of long-term financial sustainability will require restructuring of one sort or another, we are now in a period of respite as far as our financial means are concerned. A revamped Contributions Committee is exploring what makes us a community. Time, more than money, seems to be the cloud hovering over us at this CYM. The clerk of one CYM committee, finding that committee work was taking four hours a day, stepped down early. Volunteers are becoming burnt out, while the same small number of Friends are rotating through the same committee positions.
On the evening of August 7, 2016, Maggie Knight presented the annual Sunderland P Gardner lecture to Canadian Yearly Meeting, held this year at the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus in Camrose, on Treaty 6 territory. The lecture was filmed and will be made available in coming weeks.
Entitled Continuing Revelation: Quaking with Grace and Joy in Modern Times, Maggie spoke about transforming ourselves, transforming the Religious Society of Friends, and transforming our world.
Speaking to assembled Friends, she said, “And so, what do we mean when we talk about ‘continuing revelation’? It is the commitment to ongoing discernment, to the belief that the divine will continue to unfold its wisdom to us if we listen, that our faith is an ongoing practice and journey. It is the belief that our faith continues to evolve, rather than stemming from a static religious text. It allows us to embrace and lead social change in our time, beyond what Fox and Penn and Fell could have imagined.This belief in continuing revelation is the reason I’m a Quaker.”
Here’s how the speedy fingers of Canadian Friends Service Committee’s Matt Legge and Publications and Communications Committee Clerk Chris Hitchcock livetweeted the evening.
In Part I: Transforming Ourselves, Maggie shared some of her experiences with workaholism, activist burnout, and ways to foster rest, space, and healthy boundaries in our lives. Speaking about the importance of acting through joy and abundance, she offered three queries:
What is enough?
When do I most love myself? When am I in best balance with myself?
How am I staying open to Spirit?
In Part II: Transforming our Religious Society of Friends, Maggie spoke about the ongoing nature of our evolution as a community, saying “the critical discernment is the wisdom to know the difference between the times we truly need more discernment, and when we are simply resisting the discomfort of change, resisting walking into the continuing revelation laid out before us.”
She identified three themes for Friends to work on:
Leaning into the discomfort: talking about money and embracing abundance
Journeying through conflict
Healthy boundaries and deeper discernment: above all, nurturing our blessed community
Emphasizing the importance of building a loving community through the creation of strong relationships between individual Friends, she said, “There are a million little kindnesses that add up to a beautiful community. We are all responsible for the inward health of our Meetings, just as we are all responsible for living our leadings outwardly.”
In Part III: Transforming our World, Maggie offered six ideas on what Quakers have to offer an increasingly secular world:
The cultivation of a practice of collective silence and contemplation in an age of distraction.
A faith grounded in strong and compelling testimonies that offer up ways to heal the world.
A beloved community in a time of growing social isolation and a fraying social safety net.
A spiritual practice based in discernment, in questions, rather than dogma – critical for many experiencing great existential angst and fear for the future.
Inter-faith work that transcends the Clash of Civilizations narrative.
A long tradition of speaking truth to power, and engaging in faith-based advocacy. The integrity to show up for our own work and a spiritual practice to keep at it.
She spoke about the importance of sharing our Light in the world through compelling personal stories.
Halifax 2013. Picture by Tori Ball.
Finally, Maggie closed with three asks for all Friends:
Practice explaining your faith and inviting others into it. What is the Light that you delight in letting shine? What are you quietly, humbly proud of?
Find your way to contribute to community-building in your Meeting, to help your community transcend and Quaker crankiness, get better at conflict and money, and turn towards each other’s bids for connection.
And finally, discern what your life would be like if you decided to spaciously, joyously, abundantly gift some of your time to Friends. What Quaker service would you let go? What else in your life would you like to let go? What new service would be led to undertake?
Maggie grew up on unceded Coast Salish territory in Victoria, BC. She’s a member of Vancouver Island Monthly Meeting and has sojourned with Meetings in Montreal, Halifax, and Vancouver. A third generation Quaker of British extraction, she became involved with Friends after attending Camp NeeKauNis in her early teens. She has worked on restorative justice and Indigenous rights with Canadian Friends Service Committee and recently served as Clerk of Canadian Young Friends Yearly Meeting and the CYM Determining Priorities and Envisioning Change Working Group.
A social and climate justice activist since her teens, Maggie studied Environment and Economics at McGill University and served as President of McGill’s undergraduate student union during the 2011-2012 Quebec student strike. She was progressive political non-profit Leadnow.ca‘s first Managing Director, building a distributed national campaigning organization while navigating the joys of 4 time zones and 17-staff-person calls via Google Hangouts. Now 27, she works as the BC Civil Liberties Association‘s new Operations Manager.
In 2015, she married her long-time partner Nat Egan-Pimblett (now Nat Knight) under the care of Vancouver Island Monthly Meeting. They live in Vancouver with their very talkative cat.
In preparation for Yearly Meeting session, we have uploaded the following:
Registration Form (PDF version to print and mail) or the on-line form (Excel file to fill in, save and email to the office). Please note that the Excel form is designed for one registrant per Excel Worksheet. If there is more than one person in your household registering, please fill out the Person 2 Worksheet, Person 3 Worksheet, etc. by clicking along the bottom tabs. Questions? Email email@example.com.
It is that time of year again when we look at the needs of our Yearly Meeting and consider how we and those known to us may be of service. Each year Canadian Yearly Meeting names people from all over the country to serve on standing committees and in individual positions in the Yearly Meeting. We ask these people to carry out, on our behalf, the work of the Society, and to provide support to those Friends working in social justice, ecumenism, and wider Quaker and world affairs.