Way Opens

One of the things that has made me most myself is the fact that I went to Quaker school. 

It was the kindest place I have ever been. There were certainly issues with many of the kids–many, many issues–but I think that it was a fundamentally kind place in a way that I have not experienced again.

Twice a year for four years I went to Catoctin Quaker Camp with my school (and I went three times as a senior). Catoctin is in the mountains, near Camp David, and it is beautiful.

This past week I took my youth group. It was such a strange experience. It was the same Catoctin, but I am a completely different person. Memory hung heavy in the air; here is the bridge where I sat and waited for someone to come and cheer me up, the kitchen where Chris and I had 3am debates, the loft where kids were caught having sex, the lagoon where we jumped in, the smoking bridge, the places where we felt trapped, the places where we felt infinite. 

But I am not the same person, anymore; I am in charge this time. The buck, it stops here. Or over there, whichever.

But Catoctin is the same. There is the same breathing room that I remember, the same mossy stones and quiet paths. I haven’t been able to recreate the fire circles, because kids in Quaker school–real Quaker school, as opposed to faux Quaker school like Sidwell–really do know how to sit in silence, something that UU kids have a bit more trouble with. But we started practicing, and in the meantime, I relearned how to sit in silence.

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6 responses

  1. Nell

    I like sitting in silence!!! Love the pictures 🙂

    June 15, 2012 at 9:00 pm

  2. Sitting in silence is a start. I’m glad you’ve tasted it and are resuming.

    I do hope you continue to find circles of other people you can sit with, as in Quaker meeting.

    I began in a yoga ashram, but moved over to Friends more than four decades ago. I can’t imagine how my life would have unfolded without this dimension — spiritually, artistically, socially, economically.

    Thanks for the post, and best wishes.

    June 16, 2012 at 12:25 pm

  3. What I’ve read/heard of Mary Oliver, pretty good!

    & I’ve certainly felt what you were saying, at big Quaker gatherings… also in a school year at Pendle Hill, which was like a slow version of that. A long period among people being good to each other does something to you, something that would be nice to keep…

    I’m blundering through wordpress sites, trying to reperson the ‘kwakersaur’ Friendly Bible Study blog I inherited & recently moved to: LightThruThePages.wordpress.com

    Take a look if there’s a chance you’d want to play there…

    June 16, 2012 at 9:38 pm

  4. Nice reminiscence. It sounds to me like thee needs a Quaker Meeting to help you reconnect with that person that is “most myself”.

    June 20, 2012 at 4:57 pm

  5. Nice photos!
    I don’t think I miss Catoctin. Having only gone as one of the semi-responsible adults, those trips wore me out. But I do miss many things about those trips: the silence for sure, the fire circles, the camaraderie with my fellow staff members. That last was something more precious and rare than I realized at the time, and miss it as much as the silence – itself as I am also learning, a rare and precious thing.

    June 22, 2012 at 6:46 am

    • I did find it pretty exhausting! I slept for many, many hours afterwards…

      June 25, 2012 at 8:45 am

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