Powell House Youth Reunion 2014-2017
by Andy Haag and Chris DeRoller
The Powell House Youth Program has always been a place in which the youth of New York Yearly Meeting can come and create life-long relationships that are deeply rooted. The friends that you make and the relationships that you form are unshakable. Then when it comes to Earthsong of your senior year of high school you find yourself asking when you will see these truly remarkable people again. You try to stay connected over various social media platforms, but nothing is like sitting in the ACC Common Room or up at Dorson’s Rock and hearing the joyful laughs of your friends or finding the comforting bliss of deep contemplative worship together.
This summer the PoHo community welcomed home a group of former youth who graduated from the program in 2014-2017. 18 young adults came to catch up with one another. We looked forward to conversations where we could be vulnerable and ourselves, the comfort and warmth of connecting physically through hugs, massage and Wink’em, being in the middle of nowhere, walking to Dorson’s rock and having a place to reflect. By late afternoon of our first day, as we lay on the common room floor following 3-way massage and a guided meditation, we felt truly connected and amazingly comfortable. No one wanted to break the mood and move on. As the time went on though, our bellies began to rumble and we went to a yummy dinner made by Tony.
Later we would forget for a moment what was going on in the world outside and revert back to a childhood of PoHo weekends. Filled with food and a second wind, it was time for tag games from the days of our youth. Watching the realization sweep over the faces of one another that they were being chased, brought laughter to the group. It was good to be a kid again.
At coffee house we laughed at jokes, listened to beautiful music, & held in our Heart beautiful stories told. This was a time to just live into the gifts of others and be reminded of how Powell House helps foster and let grow the talents in all. Outside under the stars we continued to reconnect around the fire. We settled into a reflective worship and shared out of the silence some of the hard things we were experiencing. Then as a group, we held hands and released the pain into the night with a primal yell. After a long day it was off to bed with love in our hearts and a recharged battery of togetherness in our soul.
Our last morning together, we talked about the world we want to create. There would be more active listeners so that we were not so divided. It would be more open-minded, kinder, whole. We would see others and be seen by them. There would be a shift to a more communal practice of living together that creates less harm to the environment. There would be more selfless-ness, trust and platonic touch. We reflected on the work we are already doing to make this vision real: working with children and the elderly and taking the time to listen to their stories; living in a cooperative on campus, sharing household duties, cooking meals; being conscious of the way we speak, using inclusive language, being aware of people’s backgrounds and intentional in our words; modifying a major to include sustainability, pushing the educational system to accommodate that. We thought about what would help us in this work:
- The opportunity to share stories and experiences with older people, more experienced people, or differently experienced people
- People who are asking questions of us and listening to us
- Someone to unload on at the end of the day
We finished our short time together with blindfolded trust on the path, worship on the rock, snack at the pond and good-byes on the lawn. Though we knew in our hearts, it was not “good-bye” so much as “until next time, dear friend.”