Monday, June 04, 2012

passing the peace

What an amazing time I had this past week at Duke Divinity's Summer Institute on Reconciliation.  Folks were gathered from all over the world, many denominational backgrounds and various areas of work, to spend a week hearing each others' stories and learning how to find unity.  I made friends whom I know I will keep in touch with, heard stories of healing and hope from Latin America, South Africa and the inner-cities of our country and worshipped in a vibrant diverse context.  Conversation abounded everywhere: at our breakfast tradition at Waffle House (more on this later), having a cup of coffee between seminars, walking through the lovely grounds of Duke or over a glass of wine in the evening at the hotel.  I'm still processing all of the amazing things I discovered there, but for now I can say that I left with a keen awareness of the work of the Spirit bringing hope and peace in so many places and the power of really listening to someone else's story to help you understand your own and this world more clearly.

The stunning view from the Divinity School chapel we worshipped in twice daily.  Who needs stained glass?  Nature does a better job of it!

There were all sorts of doors to Middle Earth scattered throughout the place.

Some Korean folks singing Amazing Grace in Korean.  We had a talent night of sorts, and I danced to the Lord's Prayer.  One of our speakers, Edgardo Colon-Emeric, said "We need to be schooled in hope.  And the chief school of hope is prayer.  The chief school of prayer is the Lord's Prayer."  I thought it was appropriate to share my visual Lord's Prayer.

This woman's story impacted me perhaps more than any other.  (Apologies for the twitter screen interruption: several of us tweeted during the conference, sharing words that were most meaningful to us.)  Her name is Pumla, and she is a Psychologist who served on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa.  Among the many powerful things she said, these words stuck with me most:  "This word transformation is not in theory, it is truly possible. What is important is that we open ourselves to that possibility...where you create space for people to re-discover the humanity in one another."

Here is the book she wrote, detailing her experience interviewing one of the most violent leaders of Apartheid.  Her story is so powerful.

This is James, the very first person I met when I arrived.  As luck would have it, we quickly realized that we were both Aggies!  He is now a professor of Ethics at Anderson University in Indiana.  What a wonderful soul.    

 The stunning (massive) Duke Chapel.  Apparently in the summer months, there are 4 wedding a day here.  While we were here, folks were camping out just to get on the waiting list for weddings next summer!

The doors to the chapel (with my new friends).

We had a lovely (warm) afternoon strolling through the Duke Gardens.  They are amazing.

 Some wonderful new friends.  The woman next to me is Michelle and we just instantly connected.  I know we will continue to be great friends.

 This is where I sat and read Pumla's book for hours on our free afternoon while watching the birds and squirrels play.  It was such a peaceful place.

And this is where a few of us had breakfast every single morning!  I made friends with a Navy chaplain stationed in Okinawa named Josh, and he invited me to have breakfast here.  As the week went on, we included folks from Tanzania, Korea, Paraguay and Canada.  It was like our own little international (deep fried) communion each morning.  Pecan waffles, egg and cheese biscuits, coffee...heavenly.

Here is my friend from Nigeria, Gyang.  He is an Anglican priest and taught me so much about Christian/Muslim conflict in his country.  He was so kind to me and when I left even walked me to my car to see me off with a hug and lingering waves as I drove off.  I will really miss him.

Here's Josh (L) the "Chap" and Pablo, the Paraguayan-Korean.  These guys are so much fun.

Beautiful Pentecost window in the Divinity School, that really characterized our week: the Spirit speaking in many languages and accents but proclaiming one message of unity and peace.


Austins said...

The sights of the campus are as close as I've been to that place, and I have a uch better sense now of why people love it so. You are such a people person, and you clearly made many friends during your week. We look forward to learning some of the truths you met in the days and weeks ahead. Alice [';']

E Hendrickson said...

What a wonderful experience you had. Can't wait to see how it is reflected in your work!


Anonymous said...

Whitney, I am so glad that you were able to attend! I know you learned so much and that will benefit the Cameron Congregation. We are blessed with your presence, your love for learning, and your love for all! Cat

Rich Pak said...

Whitney, thanks for blogging about your experience. I wish I could have spent more time fellowshipping with all those gathered for the Institute.

The worship team was hoping that someone might provide the gift of liturgical dance. Thanks for sharing!

Also, as a fellow Presbyterian, you should check out the Presbyterian Peacemaking Seminar.


BeluBelloBelle said...

A moment i saw the roof, then I said hey that's duke ... one of my friend is there for economic subject. However, u such a stunning photograph eye ... its good to see every angles and your experiences.