Monday, July 18, 2016

NCYMC - The Honeymoon is Over, and That's a Good Thing

I just got back from the 319th annual session of North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative), which was held at Guilford college. Sometime over the weekend, I came to the realization that the honeymoon was over, and probably had been for a few years. When I was younger, the phrase "the honeymoon is over" had a very negative connotation, as in "you don't care about me anymore". Not only do I not think it is a bad thing for the honeymoon to be over, I consider it a healthy part of a relationship.

When I first started attending the NCYM-C annual sessions, I gushed about them, and I still do. It felt like my spiritual home, and so much of what was going on there resonated with me, met my spiritual needs, and changed me. But, I also recognize that I idealized the yearly meeting to some extent. I didn't particularly notice flaws, or things that just didn't speak to me. I also recognize that I have changed over the past 10 years (so has the yearly meeting). While I'm just thinking at this moment about my spiritual life and my views on Quakerism and Christianity, it occurs to me that my life has gone through tremendous upheaval since that first visit. I find that I don't idealize the yearly meeting as much any more. There are things I don't agree with, people that may occasionally grate on me, but despite that, it still feels like my spiritual home and I feel deep love for the yearly meeting. I think it's important to recognize that.

People often come to our meetings seeking something, just as I did in my first visit to NCYM-C. For those who find what they are looking for, they often have the assumption that they have found the perfect place. Then, when they discover that we are, in fact, human beings, there can be a feeling of disillusionment and disappointment that may drive them away. This happens in other kinds of relationships as well -- friendships, romances, jobs, memberships, etc. I do think it's good to have a honeymoon period -- it helps cement those things in a relationship that connect us, but as the honeymoon period wears off, it's equally important to not let the things we have overlooked suddenly obscure those things that connect us. Mary Linda and I often find ourselves mentioning this dynamic with newcomers (not necessarily first-time visitors, but those that want to sit down and talk with us about the meeting). It's not that I want to end that honeymoon period, but that I want people to be aware that there is something beyond it, and that it deepens the relationship to love one another flaws-and-all.

1 comment:

  1. Yes! I think you and I showed up at NCYM-C the same year. And of course it looks differently ten years on. At that time, from the outside, it looked like a coherent remnant of something amazing, something larger than individual lives. Now that I know and love the people involved, it still looks a little bit that way -- but mainly looks like a well-functioning community of imperfect humans seeking truth.