That was easy! (NCYM-C Sessions 2007)

Whenever a really simple bit of business was completed, our clerk would press a red plastic "easy button" which would announce cheerfully: "That was easy!" Rumor has it that after a while, Sid's easy button was confiscated. I didn't attend a whole lot of business sessions so that I could recover from and prepare for Bible study, but I was deeply amused by the stories I heard about the "easy button."

In the commercials for the company which makes the "easy button," some sort of complicated office mess is cleaned up by hitting the "easy button". I could have used that while organizing the panel discussion for Saturday night.

After much pulling of teeth, four young adults were wrangled for a panel discussion on growing up in NCYM-C. My answer to one of the questions seemed to touch quite a few people, so I'm going to try to reproduce it here.

Do you have any fond or valuable memories of older Friends that have been meaningful to you on a continuing basis. Did you find any role models among Yearly Meeting Friends outside your immediate family?

Anytime that I am sitting in worship feeling cranky about a leading to speak, I think of Alfred Newlin. He was a recorded minister in a tiny rural meeting in Alamance County. Towards the end of his life, as he was losing his battle with lung cancer, he would sometimes have coughing fits that took him out of worship. For the last few months at least, he was coughing bright red blood into his handkerchief. I remember being told that Alfred was refusing to take the painkillers that his doctors had prescribed because he was afraid of becoming addicted to them, so I imagine he was in a great deal of pain. Every First Day that I was able to attend West Grove, Alfred stood up and gave his message and I never heard him complain. Not about having an incurable cancer, not about the pain, not about death, and never about having to keep up his ministry as he was dying.

I told this story on a panel that I really didn't want to take part in. I thought leading Bible Study was enough. I was still recovering from a migraine I had gotten that afternoon. And I really thought that since the panel was my father's idea that he should have been the one trying to convince people to sit on it. Okay, I still think that. But in the end, I think that the panel went well and I'm glad I participated. It wasn't that hard to talk about the things that we were asked to talk about (especially since many of them were conversations that we as YAFs have had with each other over and over and over). In the end, getting a couple young ladies' butts in the seats and crying a little as I talked about Alfred Newlin wasn't hard at all. In fact, it might well have been an occasion for Sid to use his "easy button."

Elizabeth Bathurst


RichardM said...

Well, daughter, a total of nine YAFs were asked to serve on the panel at some point. I approached five of these by myself or in conjunction with another OAF (in most cases that means a parental unit). The YAFs in general weren't very receptive to the idea. Partly because a twenty-something's life doesn't allow for much planning. So I asked you and Emily to step forward and take on a more active role. YAFs are more likely to listen to other YAFs than to OAFs. If I recognize that my effectiveness in getting a job done is limited I think it's appropriate to ask somebody who is better situated to do it instead.

So bottom line is you were pushed to the limits in doing everything you had to do. Do you wonder that Alfred's example came to mind?

Anyway you did a great job. The success of the panel indicates that it wasn't a stupid idea after all and that God wanted this to happen. And also that he wanted me to take a step back and for you to take a step forward.

Elizabeth Bathurst said...


The only thing I have to say about that is "Shut Up." In the whiniest voice imaginable.


Mark Wutka said...

You did a terrific job with the bible study and I thought the panel was very insightful. Knowing that there are YAFs out there like you and Emily gives the OAFs some optimism about the future.
With love,

Claire said...

Mark, you say, Knowing that there are YAFs out there like you and Emily gives the OAFs some optimism about the future.

I say why wait for the future? YAFs are here right now, too, in the present! In fact, I know of some YAFs already making noise out there in the wider Quaker community - traveling in the ministry, serving on boards and committees, ministering and eldering, leading workshops and bible studies.. all in the present. Sometimes I feel that saying the youth are the future invalidates what youth are already doing now.

Ok, stepping off my mini-soapbox - didn't mean to jump down your (or anyone's) throat.

Despite all the grumbling I heard about the panel prior to its occurrence, I definitely agree that it went well and was well worth participating in - even if I jumped in right at the last minute. It opened space for really important conversations to begin. Thanks to all involved.

Glad to have met all of the above there.

Love and Light,

Elizabeth Bathurst said...


I think it's important to remember that our NCYM-C OAFs are quite happy to have us around, as we are, now. They are concerned, however, as am I, about the passing of the old guard. People like Alfred Newlin, Mary Littrell, and George Parker left big shoes to fill, a kind of wisdom that I am certain only comes from decades upon decades of walking in the Light. We're some pretty awesome YAFs, doing some pretty awesome things, but we've got many years of seasoning to go before we can stand as they did as pillars of the community. In fact, most of our parents' generation have quite a way to go as well. It's important not to let our indignation at not being taken seriously overshadow our appreciation for our elders.

In Love,

Claire said...

EB - Yes, yes, you are right. I've been re-thinking a few things over the past day and agree that I failed to acknowledge a few things.

Yes we are doing important things now, but again, as you say, we are not yet as seasoned as many older Friends, and hope for the future is the hope for the continuation of seasoned older Friends (as opposed to just no Friends at all!).

Another thing I failed to realize is that "hope for the future" doesn't always translate to "no hope for now".

Thank you for your gentle eldering, Friend. Next time I shall be more patient before making the rash decision to hop on the indignation train.

Love and Light,