Discovering What Withstands the Test of Time

After attending the GS vacation, Felicia reflects on the significance of discovering what withstands the test of time.

What can withstand the test of time? This question was the theme of the East Coast GS Summer Vacation, and a question that deeply resonates with all of us students who attended the vacation. I remember the question specifically sticking with me at the beginning of the vacation to the point where it started to hurt. Every time we experience a GS vacation, we are exposed to beauty for an entire week and then struggle to keep this beauty with us as we move forward. After discussing this during a small School of Community on the vacation, I talked about it with some friends who were there. We agreed that it was difficult to experience beautiful moments when they seem temporary. However, what we found together as a group of over 100 people, was that these beautiful moments do not have to be temporary; it depends on how we live them. For a week, we lived in tents with five or six other people, hiked together, played games together, swam together, and sang together. While living this way brought us closer together, finding out what withstands the test of time was a deeper discovery than just togetherness.

While we were still trying to figure out what “withstanding the test of time” could mean for us, we heard a witness by a man named Denis from Albania. He told the story of how he encountered the movement. He found an experience in his life that answered the question of the theme of the vacation. His experience became a living example that helped us to look at our own lives and see what meeting the movement or being born into the movement meant for us. The journey he described also included moments of both loneliness and solitude, touching on another theme that ran through the vacation.

Later in the vacation, Vincent, a teacher from the D.C. community, gave a witness rooted in two stories, two songs, and a poem which highlighted the difference between loneliness and solitude for us. In a story about a girl who committed suicide because of her loneliness and the song, “Car Radio” by Twenty One Pilots, about a character who is afraid of silence and facing the human experience, we saw what it means to live hopelessly. In another story about a dying neurosurgeon who wanted to live his last days understanding death and a musical piece, “The Raindrop” by Chopin, with a single note that beats unceasingly like our own constant hope and desire, we learned about solitude. Solitude is time we spend alone, but with grace, which gives rise to hope and a desire for beauty.

Throughout the vacation, we were invited to moments of silence in which we would reflect on the theme and then discuss what we thought in small Schools of Community. Living these moments of silence helped us to experience the solitude we had been learning about because it gave us time to face the beauty we were experiencing and not take it for granted. We were able to free ourselves from the distractions that surround us in our daily lives and be more intentional in understanding our experiences.

As the vacation progressed, meaningful friendships were formed between people from all across the East Coast, many of whom had never attended a GS vacation. This year’s vacation was unique because it included so many communities. Even though many of us came to the vacation only knowing people from our own communities or a few others, the bond we all shared over that week was unforgettable. During the assembly at the end of the vacation, almost everyone who spoke said they felt united to everyone there. Brigid from South Carolina said, “What struck me the most was the amount of love that is shared between all these people who have only known each other for five days. Regardless of how long it has been, we have been strongly bonded through a desire for something deeper than what is on the surface.”

I could not have asked for a more beautiful way to end my time in high school and in GS. This vacation affirmed for me how close the movement is and how blessed I am to be a part of it. I am able to move on to the next stage of my life knowing that I have met something beautiful through my faith and in the people around me, and that this will stay with me for the rest of my life. To me, this is what stands the test of time.

Felicia, New York, USA