All posts by Finn Campman

Middle School River of Spirit Odyssey Day 6

Tuesday, May 8th

Tour of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center
with Barbara Sahli and students of Malik Academy

Lunch at café with students of Malik Academy

Salaat Prayers

Meet with Brother David Vryhof from the monastery of the Society of St. John

Eucharist Service, Society of St. John the Evangelist

Last Supper in Harvard Square

My favorite part of the visit to the ISBCC was the call the prayer. The chanting was just extraordinary, and everyone worshipping Allah side by side rang so beautifully of peace and connection.
-Siri

Today I did something I’ve never done before: go to a Mosque. I studied Islam, but seeing it in practice was enlightening. We started by putting on our hijabs. But putting it on, I suddenly felt part of something larger than myself. Instead of feeling oppressed, I felt connected to those millions of women proudly wearing them all over the world.
-Julia

It was so great and beautiful to meet with the kids from Malik Academy. I have said that you don’t fully know a religion until you meet with people from the religion, but now I think you can’t fully know a religion until you meet with people of your own age from a religion.
-Julian

A Story from the Islamic Society of Boston and Cultural Center
When my hijab came undone, Anisa fixed it for me. I made a friend. The end.
-Hazel

It is one of the most amazing feelings in the world to hug a group of people goodbye who you only met that day but already love. I wish we could have spent some more time with the Malik Academy students. They made me feel comfortable, even though I was wearing a hijab and was in a place I did not know. I feel sooooo lucky to have had this experience and I will never forget it. It’s amazing that people from different backgrounds and with different beliefs can have so much fun.
-Emmy

The monastery made me want to try out the monastic lifestyle. There was a welcoming a feeling all throughout the church. All the brothers seemed very happy and kind. Out of everywhere we’ve been, this has been the closest one to my religion.
-Anna

Call to Prayer at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center

 

Middle School River of Spirit Odyssey Day 5

Monday, May 7th

Sri Lakshmi Hindu Temple

Lunch in Harvard Square

Harvard Art Museum

Dinner – Harvard Square

The Humanist Hub Discussion Group with Greg Epstein

This morning we had a beautiful experience at the Sri Lakshmi Temple. Raju was our guide, and he was very welcoming. Rama, a volunteer at the temple, also was a part of that welcoming and his salt and sugar story was clever. All around the room were carefully carved shelters for each manifestation of God. It wasn’t so much the shelters that made the beauty, but the statues inside them. Each deity was clothed in silk and shimmering jewelry. Their carved expressions were of glorious victory or serenity.
-Siri

The tranquility of the Sri Lakshmi Temple was amazing. Rama had a beautiful story that made a lot of sense about how you know that God is there (sort of). If you put sugar in water, it dissolves. Then if you put salt in, it dissolves as well. But, if you taste the water, you can taste the salt and sugar. I like the notion of the mother is God and father is God. It was truly inspiring to hear that.
-Magda

After lunch we walked to the Harvard Art Museum. It was amazing, overwhelming, but also felt more serene than any museum I’ve ever been to. After looking at many of the different art pieces, I realized the irony that all the images of death and pain looked the most alive, whereas the live people portraits often have a dead look in their eyes.
-Hazel

Finally, we went to the Humanist Hub. I was overwhelmed by the distance our conversation moved. Greg Epstein had filled the place of religion with a different type of community. He spoke with the air of a preacher, but a message of a different side. Our whole conversation was filled with ideas that I had not thought about, and a new perspective from our class that I hadn’t heard.
-Anna

Line, shape, color
Is the wife grieving?
Or just paint?

Worship, care
Devoted to Devas
Small and large

Human life
Doubt, yet search for good
None are perfect.
-Julia

 

Soundscape from Sri Lakshmi

 

Middle School River of Spirit Day 4

Sunday, May 6

Morning service at Emmanuel Church
Bach Cantata BWV 225

Lunch on Newberry Street

Common Cathedral – Outdoor service for the homeless

A conversation with the Reverend Pamela Werntz of Emmanuel Church

Speak with Reverend Randall Quackenbush
Anchor Church

Speak with Rev. Patrick Ward of Trinity
Compline Service at Trinity Church

At Emmanuel Church, they had such good music. The choir was amazing and the baby was so cute. The music at Emmanuel was so slow and thoughtful. I really had time to think about the service and the lyrics. The wine was much better than the synagogue’s sweet wine.
-David

I felt like I started to understand what they were saying. The giving and receiving of bread and wine is a powerful thing. I thought what Pamela said about what the bread represents was interesting. She said it is up to the receiver and not the giver to decide what it means.
-Eliot

The stark contrast between Emmanuel and Common Cathedral was extreme. What Common Cathedral lacked in charisma, it way more than made up for it spirit, love, and good intention.
-Huxley

Then we went to the service at Anchor Church which was unlike anything else. It has a lot of modern music as opposed to old hymns, which was nice. We also had a discussion. I really enjoyed this. It was my favorite part and the only part I felt I learned something from.
-Solomon

I liked going to Trinity Compline. I was able to do one of my favorite things: sitting in silence. I could feel the silence around me but I didn’t need to fight it; I let it in. The cross glowed above me.
-Nomi

The service at Trinity Church was absolutely amazing… incense curled around the cross in the air. It was easily one of the most beautiful bunch of minutes in my life.
-Owen J.

We sat in silence during Compline. The incense rose in thick clouds engulfing the cross in smoky respect. I sat in silence, speaking for the first time in a God I don’t believe in.
-Lily

Compline Service at Trinity Church

 

 

Bach Cantata BWV 225, 2nd movement

Middle School River of Spirit Odyssey Day 3

Saturday, May 5th

Morning Shabbat and Bar Mitzvah at Temple Ohabei Shalom

Lunch in Coolidge Corner

Thousand Buddha Temple

Dinner at Eataly food court

The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence by Step Afrika Dance Co.
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre

Today was the first day I ever went to a Bar Mitzvah. It was a long and harmonious service for a boy named Zach. Throughout it, I could feel the love, stillness, and calmness of “a young patawan growing into a promised Jew.” I now feel very attached to the idea that the celebration of a Bar Mitzvah is the Jewish “everyone has the chance for enlightenment.”
-Hazel

[The Thousand Buddha Temple] a lot more alive than the other Buddhist temples we visited because people were visiting and practicing. I kind of felt bored during the slow walk meditation but it was fun to do the fast walk meditation. I felt so relaxed during the breathing meditation. I liked how the chant was so simple but powerful.
-Owen B.

Our last stop of the day was going to a step Afro performance. I thought it was a beautiful example of dance theater that triggered an emotional response from both Alabama and our odyssey in Boston. The performer’s truth flowed toward the audience in kinetic, electric waves. Using humans as a living, breathing, and malleable art form created such depth and perspective.
-Lily

The class walked to a dance musical called The Migration. It was so energetic and everyone acting was so talented. It reminded me of what somebody said at The Crossing that connecting and participating in a rhythm can bring everybody together.
-Owen J.

Haiku-ish by Solomon

Drums, bright lights
Pervading rhythm
Deep message

Middle School River of Spirit Odyssey Day 2

Friday, May 4

Head into Boston

Ramakrishna Vedanta Society
Swami Tyanananda

Lunch in Harvard Square

The Pluralism Project at Harvard University
Alexis Salomone

Dinner in Coolidge Corner

Conversation with Reb Moshe Waldoks of Temple Beth Zion

Kabbalat Shabbat at Temple Beth Zion

At The RamakrishnaVedanta Society I had a feeling of peacefulness right when I entered the building. I was struck by the smell of incense, then was welcomed by a friendly monk who I really liked by the end of the visit.

-Owen B.

After our conversation with Reb Moshe, we had Shabbat. I was looking forward to it because I had hoped it would be like home. It was nice, but it was very different from what I do at home. It was hard for me to keep up with the prayers and songs. It must have been crazy for all the others. Even though it wasn’t what I was used to, there was something powerful about the words. After the service, I felt lighter.

-Solomon

At the Pluralism Project we were able to laugh at topics usually frowned upon. This is what the world needs to get through disagreement. We need to be able to sit down and have a conversation and share stories, concerns, hopes, and then be open to all.

-Nomi

The drum and the pure force of [Reb Moshe’s] voice brought meaning to words I had no meaning for. I especially liked when we stood in a circle around the alter. I felt so connected, so alive, so clueless and vulnerable, ready to accept anything that came wholeheartedly. As we walked on the streets on the way home, I began to notice the sheer diversity of Boston. Hijab’s blended in with Yarmulkes and t-shirts. I sat and ate red bean paste filled buns at a table less than a foot off the ground, the sound of laughing and rapid fire Chinese filling my ears.

-Julia

It feels so nice to go to all these places and feel myself and the class becoming a part of the culture and community there. I feel that we are helping to create ties of friendship and community spirit that can last for a long time. Everyone has been so welcoming and opening. I have not figured out if there is a religion that I prefer, but I have been very pleasantly surprised by the kindness shown by all the people we have visited with.

-Emmy

 

Middle School River of Spirit Odyssey – Day 1

Thursday May 3rd

New England Peace Pagoda

Wat Boston Buddha Vararam (Thai Buddhist Temple)
Lesson, chant, and meditation with monk from Theravada tradition. (questions)

Friendly Crossways Hostel
Drop off luggage and get tour.

Head into Boston

The Crossing – Cathedral Church of St. Paul.
Dinner, service, and conversation with Reverend Marsha Hoecker

Return to Friendly Crossways – journal, sleep

The place that really spoke to me today was the Buddhist temple. I think the very reason I felt closer to this place was because the monk was speaking a different language. I can’t quite explain it but it was as if his words flowed over me. I felt his teachings rather than hearing them.

-Siri

..But nothing really compared to The Crossing. I really enjoyed the connection I felt. This may be because Christianity is familiar, I don’t really know. I felt super engaged throughout the entire service. It was very welcoming and not as strict as what Im used to. The way they gave a time for people to do their own thing reflected how their community works, letting people come and go, welcoming anyone who is willing to listen.

-Anna

I think that there is a sense of wholeness and completeness from singing, especially about God. The sense of trust and faith that everyone at The Crossing had was a feeling that I noticed.

-Eliot

I have found that, so far, the two biggest messages or parts of the places of worship has been rhythm/music and social action. At The Peace Pagoda they have their peace walks, and many of the people at The Crossing were involved in social action and one even said that you can not be Christian without social action. On the rhythm/music front, The Peace Pagoda had the drum and gong. At the Thai Buddhist Temple, the chant had a certain melody to it. And The Crossing had a huge focus on music and some said music helped them feel closer to God.

-Julian

Extra thoughts from Hazel:
1.) The cross as a symbol for the intersection of God and human
2.) Religion is an art, not a science.
3.) The term “stranger danger” and many other western culture thinking reflects on one of the major differences with Buddhist thinking.

 

Middle School River of Spirit Odyssey – Get Ready

Just a few days now until the Middle School heads to the greater Boston area on their River of Spirit Odyssey. During their seven day journey students will participate and observe 15  different spiritual services as they try to understand the nature of spirit and how it is integral in so many people’s lives. Just one more piece in the driving question of what it means to be human.

Middle School Alabama Odyssey 2017 Day 7

Day 7 – Tuesday

Pack and leave Healing Waters and Selma

Day in Montgomery

Dexter Avenue Baptist Church

Southern Poverty Law Center

Lunch – Filet and Vine

Equal Justice Initiative

Alabama Statehouse/Confederate Memorial/Speeches

Fried Tomato Buffet

Sleep – Hargis

Today we went to a place like no other. Dexter Avenue [Baptist Church] was a place that had lots of spirit and I could feel the energy that Dr. King left there.   -Henry

The Southern Poverty Law Center opened my eyes to all the hate in the USA. Touching Emmitt Till’s name was like touching him and telling him I was going to make his death mean something. It was then, touching his name and tracing the letters, that this whole trip, every moment and every person, became true, real, honest, moments in time.   -Eliot

Thinking about what the Equal Justice Initiative guys said about using your passion to help others — I’ve actually thought about that a lot before, how whatever I decide I’d like to do, I should use it to help those who are hurt by this society.    -Leah

Our time with Evan and Luke (at the EJI) was a discussion between people who clearly had so much respect for each other. We talked together no at each other. The stories of death row and child imprisonment that continue today was the first time on this trip where I truly and deeply felt inspired to find my passion and work with it to create positive change just like these men had.    -Lucy F.

[The EJI] had this exhibit that almost brought tears to my eyes. It showed the soil from where different lynchings took place. I imagined holding the grains of people’s identity in my hands as they slowly passed through my fingers… I gave my speech today and felt like I put my whole heart into it. I closed my eyes and imagined James Baldwin’s eyes twinkling as he smiles.”    -Lily C.

I was happy to be able to preform my speech by the dirt of the lynchings. It was so powerful to stand in front of part of what Ida B. Wells devoted her life to… I hope to keep Ida B. Wells’ spirit close. I would love to strive to be like her. She was so strong and courageous.  -Nomi

EJI really made me think about two things. First about children having their lives stripped from them and then how can I use my passions to relate to fighting for civil rights. I couldn’t ever imagine being taken away from my life and sent to prison for something I did as a teenager.   -Lily B.

I loved how they (Evan and Luke from EJI) spoke about using your passions to help the cause. I spent some of this time planning out my entire future and how I can contribute to inmates in need of medical attention… Such an amazing last day in the glorious state of Alabama!     -Marley

I will never physically be in Alabama again but my mind will. Today was our last full day in Alabama. Alabama taught me so many things and changed my perspective on the world outside of VT.   -Owen

The reason I loved this trip was just because we got to live what we had been studying for so long.   -Sam

 

Middle School Alabama Odyssey 2017 Day 6

Day 6 – Monday

Meet Sheryl Threadgill and other participants of the voting rights movement in Wilcox County at the historic Antioch Baptist Church.

Miss Kitty’s Restaurant in Camden for lunch,

Shoe Store Museum,

Black Belt Treasures – a gallery of over 400 artists from all over the Blackbelt

Conversation and dinner with the BAMA Kids

 

Our visit at the [Antioch Baptist] church in the morning was a really warm experience. Their stories were amazing to hear. -Hayden

As we raised our voices and sang Carry It On, you could feel the powerful presence of history. -Lily C.

[In the Shoe Store Museum] I was really struck by these handmade blankets that it said were made by a slave named Emmy in the 1800s. My name just seems like such a big part of who I am. Imagining a girl with my same name but with a completely different life was really powerful for me. -Emmy

I felt that we had hopped through the floorboards of someone’s attic and was just looking through their history. It also had the same smell. -Henry

Betty Anderson told us this incredible story about how Sheriff Lummie Jenkins stood in front of the courthouse and said, “I will die and go to Hell before I let a n**** vote.” And the minute the words left his lips, he dropped dead. Betty’s grandmother stepped over his body and in to register. -Tula

At BAMA Kids for the first time I felt white, really white. -Mason

We have been so lucky to go places we are welcome. Today I think we got a taste of what it was like to not be completely wanted by the BAMA kids. It felt like we were kinda being mocked for our whiteness. -Nomi

I could not tell if the divide between us was caused because we were [mostly] privileged white kids, or ‘cause we were just outsiders. I wonder how we would feel if a bunch of black kids came to Vermont knowing a whole lot about syrup, such a usual and interesting thing to us. How would we feel? -Huxley

Middle School Alabama Odyssey 2017 Day 5

Day 5 – Sunday

Church service at Ye Shall Know the Truth Baptist Church

Picnic with Mary Lee Bendolph and the folks of Gee’s Bend.

Afternoon – Dr. Bernard Lafayette

Evening – Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Boynton

I rarely go to church and it’s usually on Christmas Eve. The atmosphere in this church was so different from the ones that I have been to with my family. The singing especially was really different. They seem to have so much more energy and it was really powerful to see and be a part of.   -Emmy

Being with the people of Gees Bend was like being with people you already knew.    -Riley

Mary Lee Bendolph (from Gees Bend) was like the nicest woman I ever met.   -Van

(Editor’s note: Today we discovered Van’s natural talent for quilting. Get that boy some sewing needles!)

Dr. Lafayette’s stories were amazing and he and his wife were so friendly. It’s hard to comprehend that of everything he endured in his career, the scariest thing was riding a horse. He was very funny, too. Afterward, I got his autograph and he wrote “To Leah, the future is in your hands.” Then I asked him if he had known Septima Clark from the SCLC and he did!!! I am so happy. Estatic, even.

-Leah

Dr. Lafayette: freedom fighting, snake holding, AK-47 swallowing, horse fearing, badass.    -Mason

Hearing Lafayette’s story showed me that even the small contributions you make toward equality are worth it.   -Huxley

Just thinking about how incredibly courageous [Dr. Lafeyette] was. Until now I don’t think I’ve grasped how crazy powerful nonviolence is. He protected a man that beat him, pointed a gun, and planned for his murder. I would never have the intense dedication, power, patience, and courage to do that now but I hope someday that I will.

[Dr. Lafayette] started talking about fear and how sometimes you find yourself in situations and have to stand up even if you don’t know the consequences.    -Zoe