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Leavin’ On A Jetplane
By Audrey White
July 13, 2010
I’m terrible at endings, especially when endings mean being strewn about across the world. My heart ached to watch the participants leave, and it is strange to not hear them yelling and talking and laughing from a short distance away. But when the staff met on Monday to debrief the two weeks, Emma, the Northern Irish home group leader, shared a quote from Thomas Moore. The words echoed in my head as she read aloud, “the heart that has truly loved never forgets.”
I won’t forget this love, this family, this community, and neither will anyone else. I’ll remember learning Hebrew phrases from an Israeli participant named Noy. I’ll remember watching Emily and Sherrie, U.S. participants in my dialogue group, find their voices and learn how significant they and their stories are. I still hear the ringing laughter of the beautiful young women in my cabin after Gaby, an Israeli participant, shared her daily elephant joke and “random fact about carpets.”
But remembering doesn’t make it any easier, not when it’s so fresh. And I’m left with a question I started with in my first blog post 2 and 1/2 weeks ago: what is Face to Face? What are we doing, and why does it matter?
When I think of my three years in the program, the word family is what comes to mind first. We are a network of incredibly distinct individuals with difficult, often contrasting stories. Our paths may cross once or many times; we may stay best friends for years or never speak again. But no matter what, we are an irreplaceable community, a family of lovers and dreamers and friends. Each of us has the opportunity to go into a larger community and share what we’ve learned, be better listeners, encourage others to stand up for justice and create real and tangible change to the world we all live in.
And so, my family, thank you. To the staff: thank you for supporting me when I felt inadequate, frustrated and exhausted. Thank you for your trust in me and your love for the individual human being I am. To my cabin and dialogue group: thank you for sharing yourselves with one another and letting me be a part of the circles of trust you created. Your brilliance, insight and growth taught me more than I can express. To every person at camp this year: thank you for being a part of this work, for being willing to hurt, listen, love, learn and go forth and continue. To all those whom I have met through or because of this program: thank you for the person that you are, for the change you make for the betterment of the universe and for the change you make in me.
I’m terrible at endings, especially when I feel like there is so much more to say, but so closes the Face to Face 2010 summer intensive blog. I’m going to step back and leave you with a quote. It is one I have always loved, but in the past three weeks, the 2010 Face to Face family taught me what it really means. It comes from the novel Sirens of Titan, in which Kurt Vonnegut writes, “A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.”
Shalom, salaam, peace,
All Things Catholic (John Allen)