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.