Joyous Bubbles

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Powell House (New York Yearly Meeting's retreat center)

Earthsong 2005: We sat in the warm sun and watched our seniors take flight. Earthsongs are notoriously hard (as a matter of fact our Powell House Youth Director Chris always says she wished she didn’t have to go to Earthsongs, they are too rough on her). We watched with tear-filled eyes as our seniors sat in front of us and told us how much Powell House has changed their lives. They spoke of the love, of the acceptance. They spoke of the beautiful people and the amazing, crystal moments. They told us that they would never leave us in spirit. They would carry Powell House with them for all their lives.

I think this snapshot of one of my Powell House moments holds some of the essence of what makes the Powell House Youth program such an amazing experience. Powell House is life changing. It has changed my life. It has helped me grow fully into myself, in even the three short years that I have been attending conferences. Just ask Chris or Mike, when I first came to Powell House I was very quiet and shy, and didn’t spend much time with the other teenagers. Boy, do friends who know me know laugh when I tell them that. But it is true. Really. Powell House is a safe and loving environment that helped me to see people, not as strangers, but as friends. I am now at a place where I am excited about engaging the world, and I’m not afraid of pushing my limits or stepping out of my comfort zone. I know that this is partly due to the community that I found at Powell House.

We talk a lot at Powell House about the ‘magic ingredient;’ that special something that makes Powell House what it is. Although I know that most likely other Youth Attenders will disagree with me, I think the ‘magic ingredient’ at Powell House is the Spirit. We have not just created a community at Powell House, we have created a Covenant Community based around the Quaker Testimonies and deeply grounded in an experiential knowledge of the Light Within. When we ask ourselves the three nurture questions (for those of you not up on your Powell House slang, they are: “Does it nurture ourselves?” “Does it nurture others?” “Does it nurture the Powell House community?”) we are creating a covenant agreement with ourselves and with the community, an agreement that we will care for ourselves and everyone else.

I would challenge the young Friends who do not think Powell House is based on Quaker testimonies and a uniquely Quaker understanding of God, to tell me what it is that they like the best about Powell House. I think that they would find that what they like the best are the things that are most clearly Quaker. If you were to envision a community that lived by the Quaker Testimonies of equality, simplicity, peace, and integrity, I bet that community would look a lot like the Powell House youth group.

For me, the best thing about Powell House (although it is a tough choice; there are lots of good things about Powell House: the Pata Pata and Wink ‘em spring to mind) is the fact that I can walk through that door at the beginning of a conference and many, many people will come running to give me a hug. The very best thing about Powell House is that EVERYONE is welcomed and loved. Differences do not melt away at Powell House, they become the colors in the tie-dyed tapestry of a community bound by Spirit.


Blogger Kody Gabriel said...

Time for a new post yet? I miss reading you.

4:25 PM  

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