Friday, July 13, 2012

Five years of Summer Institute... Magic and Inspiration

This week my second post is not a book review. I know I promised I'd be reviewing a book every week, but this week I haven't read anything new. That's unusual. The reason for this strange behavior is that I've been busy sharing the week with almost 600 friends at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.

For the fifth year in a row I'm attending Summer Institute, a regional gathering of families who belong to the Unitarian Universalist Church. Once a year this magical community springs up and exists in time-outside-time. You may have seen me tweeting strange things this week about youth with multicolored hair, tie-dying, a class I'm teaching and how much I love this beautiful little campus.

The first year we came, we made friends with two other couples who both live hours away from our home in Columbus. Reconnecting with these couples, hearing about their lives, sharing our children, laughing until joy is the only emotion left and reinforcing friendships that have become some of the most important in my life are part of the experience.

New friends are also part of the mix. People from our church who we know, but don't necessarily get to see and connect with regularly is also hugely gratifying. I've met brand new people from five states who have offered me a hand, a smile or wisdom.

I'm also teaching a class this year on promotion and social media. You might have seen me tweet about that, as well. The class is completely engaged and so excited to learn about how to use social media to get the word out about their causes, churches and businesses. Their enthusiasm makes me want to do better and do more.

The best part has been watching my children connect with their communities, both other kids they wait all year to see and older youth and adults who are causing them to question and grow in new ways.

While I haven't had much time to read or to get much writing done-- we go from dawn to midnight around here-- I have rarely felt so inspired. Every person here has their own story. Every story, real and imagined, is aching to be told. I have a feeling I'll be writing like crazy in the week to come. Maybe that's a way I can keep the magic alive.

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