Adult eyes

We spent last weekend at the Quaker settlement in Wanganui.  It was the first time I'd been there in 18 years.  The last time I was there was at a JYF camp when I was 15.  When we drove up, I expected to recognise the place immediately, to be flooded with memories.  It wasn't like that at all.  The driveway had been asphalted, and the trees were much larger.

As I walked around the settlement it still wasn't familiar.  There were a few moments, the smell in one of the rooms was identical and took me right back.  I walked into the room where we'd slept at JYF camp, and realised I was standing exactly where I'd had my first significant kiss.  Overall though, the settlement just wasn't as familiar as I'd expected.

I started thinking that maybe it wasn't the settlement that had changed, but me.  I was looking at it through adult eyes.  Looking at it with all the layers of experience eighteen years brings. As I started engaging in the camp, and getting to know old and new friends I started seeing the camp through other eyes.  Introducing my children to the place, and seeing the experiences they were having, making friends with young teenagers, and young parents for whom it was their first Quaker camp.

One of the things I love about Friends is the opportunity to have direct relationships with people of all ages.  I don't interact with a child as someone's son or daughter, or an older person as someone's parent.  Often it's not until I've established relationships that I figure out who's is related to who. These direct relationships seem to let me get closer to truly connecting and seeing the world through the other's eyes. 

So this time the settlement was created anew for me, and seen from many perspectives.  I wouldn't call it home, but it does have a place in my heart. 


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