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Trouble the Waters (To Heal the World)
By Audrey White
July 6, 2010
Since my last entry from the 4th of July, we’ve been running a mile a minute, to coin a phrase. So I haven’t been great about updating, because I’ve been trying to keep 80 teenagers from dying of heat stroke in the 102 degrees weather and coordinate schedules and finish the work we came to do in a week that seems like a nanosecond of time.
We’ve been to New York City, where we took a boat tour, roamed around Times’ Square, and a few of us ran into a couple from Cape Town, much to the delight of South African participants.
We’ve had a good bit of faith-alike and interfaith programming to get people talking about religion and how it impacts their identities, conflicts and regions.
We’ve had a couple of impromptu dance offs, worked on year-long goals with home groups and generally spent a lot of time sitting on the grass in circles.
As I type this, there are 48 hours before the first group of U.S. participants boards a bus to leave Holmes for their other homes. And as a staff member, I’ve been feeling frantic the last couple days. Did they get all their questions answered? Have they talked about what they needed to talk about? Do they have the skills they need to move forward? Do they get it?
Yesterday, I had a conversation that helped me quit worrying. After a dialogue group meeting, I was walking with two of my group members, Sherrie from the U.S. and Catherine from Northern Ireland. They asked me about my own experience with coming to and then leaving the camp, and I told them about how each one of us creates a ripple wherever we go. A few minutes later, Sherrie looked at me, a smile on her face. “What you said about being a ripple, I get it. Trouble the waters.”
She gets it, and I think the rest do as well. Shortly after this conversation, we had a camp-wide water fight led by the LITs, a Face to Face tradition. Staff and participants alike got soaked, and the laughter rang as loudly and clearly as the splashes from pitchers, trash cans and bottles. They expressed new friendships through sloshes of water and wet hugs.
And later that night, we had a guest appearance from the Ebony Ecumenical Ensemble, a choir that has partnered with Auburn for several years. They sang spirituals and praise songs, and we all stomped and clapped and sang along. I saw some participants eyes light up when the choir sang “wade in the water, God’s gonna trouble the water.” And Steph, a counselor from Northern Ireland, and Ayanda, a participant from South Africa, joined the choir on stage when they sang Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World.”
Many participants have felt their waters stir through the conversations, songs, programs and friendships that have come alive here, and I hope they have been healed. We have two days left to figure out how to trouble the waters in our home regions and start to heal it if we can. It’s crunch time, and we’ll make every second count.