This series titled, “In Light Together, Apart” shares artwork of the attenders from the Young Adult Friend (YAF) retreat on May 15-16, 2020. The idea behind the retreat was to collaboratively create something that speaks to where young adult friends were at that time. The themes that emerged were: time, place, people, loss, change, searching, and reflection. The stories and art shared in this series reflect the feelings and opinions of the people who made them. YAF’s have been hosting weekly YAF worship services, and this week it will be on Sunday the 28th.
This week we feature art by Jen Schrandt of Haddonfield Monthly Meeting and Meg Rose of Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting. Meg also serves PYM as our YAF Coordinator. This week’s story comes from Naomi Madaras.
Naomi Madaras is PYM’s keynote speaker for Annual Sessions 2020. A Master of Divinity candidate at Union Theological Seminary in New York, and a graduate of Guilford College, Naomi served as the program coordinator at William Penn House before transitioning to seminary to pursue a career in chaplaincy. Her clinical training has been in hospitals and nursing homes in New York where she provides spiritual care to patients, families, and staff. Naomi focuses on interfaith community-building, death, and disability in her work. She is a member of Chambersburg Friends Meeting, a regular attender at Brooklyn Friends Meeting, and grew up milking goats and climbing trees on a farm. To register for Annual Sessions 2020 week, visit https://www.pym.org/annual-sessions/registration/
After the Evacuation
which are not words but webs
wrap around my wrist
straight into my bloodstream.
I carry at least a part of her with my body
and that’s just the way it is.
Togetherness unmarked by presence
and the birds chirping at the window
color the movement of our voices through timezones.
I wish I wish I wish I wish…
We’re both skilled at all this pastoral work
with her I am a beginner again,
fumbling through this friendship
strengthened and weathered by disease,
while ancient family wounds slither
like serpents beneath wall-to-wall carpeting.
I long for her song
and the river of touching
I long for the brunette bristles of her buzz cut,
and her head on my shoulder,
I long for the quietness of her breath,
and organic exhales in her presence,
I long for wood floors, and the easy music of her laughter.
March 17, 2020: release into a great emptiness,
I stumble through the fluorescent halls
already dissolving in my memory.
One-by-one I say goodbye
to elders already melting into hot deathbeds.
Still, they hum “How Great thou Art” under their breath,
respirators aggressively chirping.
To abandon in a time of such death, I learn a new logic:
Separation equals care equals safety equals not dying quite as fast.
She asks me: “¿cuándo regresas?”
“No sé, lo siento.”
A woman as hardened as granite folds her face into her one open palm.
I lunge to her, then pause,
“Lo siento, no sé, lo siento.”
This is the final artwork of the series. The previous iteration of the series can be found at https:https://www.pym.org/yaf-at-home-spring-retreat-2020-in-light-together-apart-week-4/