April 30, 2014
Corrymeela really does begin when you leave ....
I realized yesterday that I am responsible for bringing 30 people to Corrymeela in the past 2 years. When I imagined, upon leaving Corrymeela after three months in September, 2011, that I might like to bring a group over someday, I don’t think I quite imagined the grand scale that it has come to be. I was reflecting on that incredible number as we arrived at Corrymeela yesterday afternoon, in the Corrymeela bus driven by Peter, long time friend of Corrymeela, Peter. Over the years Peter has driven hundreds of groups to and from many places, including Belfast, to the Giant’s Causeway, to Derry/Londonderry.
Upon arrival yesterday afternoon, we were met by our facilitator Rachel Craig, long time community member and former staff person, and the long term volunteer assigned to our group for the week, Deryk, from Brazil. There’s an incredible back story to the beginning of my friendship with Deryk that I told in a 2013 blog. The friendship began over a year ago when I found out that Deryk had been reading my blog in Brazil, and it inspired him to apply for one of the long term volunteer positions. After being welcomed and assigned our rooms, we had a tour of the site, which included several “adventure learning” games along the way, including skiing across the field to the Croi, the worship space. It’s fun to watch groups get over initial confusion and awkwardness about the task, and finally get into a rhythm of movement that included a “Corrymeela chant” to help mark the movements of each foot. By the other side of the field they were singing “I’ve been working on the railroad” at a pretty fast pace!
The beauty and magic of this place never fail me. I never get tired of seeing people’s first reactions to the geography, the view, the welcoming hospitality, the wonder that is all around. With each group that I bring here, I feel more and more rooted in this “project” ... in why I spend so much energy to make these trips happen. To facilitate this experience for others is a joy and a great gift. I could feel the relief settling over me (and the rest of the group) with each hour, realizing that I could begin to relax after months of planning and organization, endless emails and changed arrangements. I could now turn much over to those who will be journeying with us, Rachel and Paul and Deryk, and the Spirit that is present in this community.
This morning, after morning worship led by Yvonne, a community member who I have worked with a number of times, Rachel led us through a number of activities that showed us the connections between body work, trust building, group dynamics, leadership and peace and reconciliation. She then told us her story – how she came to Corrymeela and about the work that she has been involved in, both in Northern Ireland and around the world. We moved into our afternoon off full of gratitude and a new appreciation of the work of people like Rachel and this incredible community over the past 50 years. The site is now filled now with families and young children in the Main House, and a women’s group from Belfast sharing the Davey Village with us.
The sign over the door of the Main House has an inscription of one of Corrymeela founder Ray Davey’s sayings ... “Corrymeela begins when you leave.” Every time I re-enter this community, I find new meaning in that expression – my learning and understanding deepens, and I am filled with gratitude.
And, we’re only half way through the week!
Pictures below are of the group “skiing” to the Croi - at the very beginning, and then once they got their rhythm, and the group with Rachel Craig.