All posts by Finn Campman

Middle School Alabama Odyssey 2017 Day 4

Day 4 – Saturday

Journeys for the Soul with Joanne Bland

Brown’s Chapel – Cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge

Charlie Lucas – “Tin Man” Artist

Surprise meeting with Afriye We-Kanduthis

Dinner at Healing Waters Retreat Center

Talk with State Senator Sanders

[Joanne Bland’s] passion for history and her passion for spreading seeds for the future was evident in every move. When I held the stone that John Lewis stood on, when I felt the power of the place we were standing, felt the power of history channeled through Ms. Bland, I knew I had to make my change, fulfill my piece in the jigsaw puzzle. -Julia

As we sat in the pews [of Brown Chapel] all I could think about was Shea or Rachel [from Selma, Lord, Selma] or Dr. King may have sat here. As we made our way from the church and looking at the I Have a Dream monument made me think of how invested Sophie was in changing it. -Nomi

When we pulled up to Brown Chapel the first thing I saw was that the memorial said, “I have a dream,” and that just gave me so much hope that I even might have had some part in changing that made me feel like I can really help and change what I think is wrong in the world. -Lily B

Charlie Lucas’ art was really beautiful. I love most of all when he said, “Make something every day,” because it spoke so beautifully of how important it is to never stop at what you can do. Always strive one step further. -Tula

I had a really fun time playing drums with all those people. I like the way they got everyone to join in in some way by playing or just clapping. I thought the one chant that Afriye was doing was super cool. The way it sounded was really satisfying. -Daniel

I didn’t really like going to the drumming place, but I think Afriye said one of the most powerful things I heard all trip. She said not to be blind to color, because we should be conscious of race, but not to base our decisions and opinions on it. -Hayden

I can’t really sum this day up in a sentence, but then again you can’t sum our history as a nation up in a sentence. That’s what today was: a day with love, hate, compassion, forgiveness, community, and unity. For me the most inspire minutes of the day were spent with Ms. Bland in the graveyard. It is a magical place right there in the center of community between the graves of those who built this nation and those who may have worked to take it down. The moss grew off the trees, long, twisted, soft, and overtaking. The moment that I experienced is honestly a very lucky one, and one that I will remind myself over and over not to forget. Not to forget that we are the most powerful force in our sacred world. -Alex


Middle School Alabama Odyssey 2017 Day 3

Day 3 – Friday

Joe Minter –“Africa in America”

Gip’s Place – Henry Gipson 3101 Ave C Bessemer (last juke joint in Alabama)

LaQuita and students at Wilkerson Middle School

On to Selma

Dinner with our hosts – Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth, and Reconciliation at

Healing Waters Retreat Center

[Going to see Joe Minter] felt like a tributary timeline to all of the people who fought for their rights mixed within landmarks of the world’s history. His connection to God could be seen in each piece of art in the yard and the relationship between his works and religion as so clear. -Lucy F.

Through the Blues he spoke, and through our hearts we listened. -Mason

“No black, no white, just the blues.” Henry Gipson’s catch phrase resonates in my ears, uttered by a bellowing, spirited voice, a voice to match the unstoppable soul of the ninety-seven year-old musician. Reading the phrase my mind has the touch of a little instrumental at the end, a twang of foot-tapping, head-bobbing, musical chaos. A twinkle in the eyes of a weathered man sparks a smile on the faces of twenty-five kids. -Magda

My favorite part of the day was talking to the kids from the other school… It made me think about these kids growing up black, knowing their history, and knowing what they wanted. One thing I remember that Jordan said was, “We hold the key to our future.” -Zoe

I’m excited and nervous to meet with Joanne Bland tomorrow. Talking with the kids today I thought a lot about it, and realized that we were learning about our history so that we can move forward, and except what people did in the past and think about that when trying to make progress in the future.

– Emmy

Middle School Alabama Odyssey 2017 Day 2

Day 2 – Thursday

7:30 breakfast at Hargis (40 minutes to)

10:00 visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

11:30 Lunch – Zoes Kitchen

1:00 16th Street Baptist Church – Mrs. Lee

2:30 Children’s March participants Janice Kelsey  and her brother Alvin Wesley in the lecture room at BCRI

3:30 Performance/Poetry with LaQuita Middleton-Holmes

Dinner at Dreamland

Home to Hargis

Today was all new. I feel that there was nothing that we as a class did today that wasn’t new and it was amazing. It was a giant adventure and I loved it. It was so cool to meet people that were actually a part of the struggle for civil rights and are still working at it today. To read about marches is one thing, but to listen to someone talk to you in person about their experiences with such things was amazing.   -Sam

We hung out on the lush lawn of Kelly Ingram Park awestruck in the shadow of the children who had been there before us.  -Julia

Janice and Alvin have lived through so much and they are living history. It is important to know the history from people that lived it right up front. It’s actually amazing. Each and every individual children’s march participant has a story and they deserve to be heard.  -Leila

Just imagining the children stampeding out of the church only to be hosed down. It felt like everywhere we stood had a 100 different moments of significance.   -Eliot

Sitting in the pews (at 16th Street Baptist Church) that so many had sat in before me, I could picture the church overflowing with people and songs of freedom filling the hearts and minds of everyone… This is where 4 innocent girls died. This is where the nation looked at and finally realized it was time for a change. This is where humanity was thrown out the window.   -Lucy F.


Middle School Alabama Odyssey 2017 Day 1

Day 1 – Wednesday

What a day. After a swift and jubilant flight to Chicago we found ourselves with a 4 hour delay. We did a little terminal surfing, Starbucks slurping, card playing, aeronautic cuisine tasting, and generally did basically everything terminals 1 and 2 had to offer at O’Hare International.

But we made it, got our beautiful vans, and drove to our Birmingham home, The Hargis Retreat Center. We sang, we dialogued about why we have come, and read from Eric Holder’s analysis of our countries racial challenges. Then we packed everyone off to bed…we hope…Spirits are high, generosity is aplenty. We are ready.

River of Spirit Odyssey – Day 6

Tuesday, May 10

10:00 – Sri Lakshmi Hindu Temple.

1:00 – Afternoon at Faneuil Hall

4:00 – Meet with Brother Luke and Brother Keith from the monastery of the Society of St. John 

5:30 – Eucharist Service, Society of St. John the Evangelist,

6:30 – Dinner in Harvard Square

Return to Friendly Crossways – journal, sing, sleep


At Emmanuel I felt so at home, everything felt familiar so it was easy for me to focus on the service. Singing in the beautiful church with that vibrant community really spoke to me. In that service, I felt as if I was praying with/beside God instead of to him.

Lucy F.

The room was filled with deeply scented smoke and my nose was busy stuck up in the air. The thick blue book was open to some sacred page and the words flowed from them up through human hearts and out into the high asking dome where God was sitting, watching.


This trip has pushed me to think of what is my faith and where is it leading me to and ,if I have faith, in what form is it in?


At the Compline service at the Trinity Church, I felt most connected to something. I don’t want to say God because I really don’t know what it was but it was something about hearing the voices and being able to close my eyes and just sit and listen.


I love the Compline service. I love darkness and solidarity and peace. And how this service is intimate and about your connection to God. It was the time I felt like God cared about our relationship.


The time I felt most close to God was at the beginning of Compline. It was a very brief moment. I was sitting down on the choir bench when I heard one of the most beautiful sounds that I have not yet heard.


When I saw people praying so powerfully and so focused, I felt like I was connecting through them to God and this is what happened at Common Cathedral.


I felt the most power of God at the Harvard Art Museum, seeing the paintings and the spirit, love, sadness, fear, or whatever the artist put into the painting. There were so many different kinds of art but they were all saying the same thing. All trying to express the same feeling of spirit and care in the work.

Lucy P.

At Temple Ohabei Shalom, I felt the chants rise up around, beautiful and so packed with meaning.


River of Spirit Odyssey – Day 5



Monday, May 9

Breakfast at Friendly Crossways

10:30 – Tour of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center

Lunch at café

12:55 Salaat Prayers

3:00 – Harvard Art Museum

6:00 Dinner – Harvard Square

Return to Friendly Crossways – journal, sing, sleep

I really liked the mosque we went to this morning. It was simple looking, but I thought it was a beautiful building and religion. The conversation with the students was really eye opening and wonderful. I had a conversation about our favorite books with them later. That was my favorite part of the day.


When we went to the mosque today, I found that some of my views on Islam were changed. I have always thought that hijab, on some level, represents the oppression of women, but now I understand that they d the opposite in a way. They are worn so that a woman’s personality is what matters and not her appearance.


Its as interesting to hear the students’ perspectives… At first, conversations were awkward because we didn’t really know what to talk about, but then it took off and we talked about celebrities and all the normal girl stuff, and I was like, “Wow, they are totally normal and a lot like me and my friends.”


I understand that women choose to wear head scarfs. I respect that. However, they talked about how women should wear them so they are not admired or harassed by men. This sincerely bothered me because women should not dress for men, and should not cover themselves so men won’t harass them.


If only we could put our stereotypes and labels away we could find peace and acceptance among people no matter their gender, religion or appearance. At the center of all religions is peace, and I wish that could stay in all of our minds.


I thought when the kids came in I connected best. It was like someone who was the same age, who knew about social media and the same kind of music, but had a whole different community and lifestyle. Something that felt so foreign to e now feels like some thing I could be a part of.


I also thought it was weird how when someone who isn’t Muslim commits some sort of killing, it’s just a criminal act, but when a Muslim does it, it’s considered “terrorism”. It just goes to show how manipulative the media can be.


I found that wearing the head scarf connected me more into the culture, yet I feel not participating and it being a silent service that set me farther away from understanding.


After the mosque we headed to the Harvard Art Museum which was amazing. I loved just being able to relax and enjoy the beauty and spirit of creativity.



Emma does a little busking.

River of Spirit Odyssey – Day 4

Sunday, May 8

Breakfast at Friendly Crossways

10:00 – Morning service at Emmanuel Church,

Bach Cantata BWV 43

Lunch on the street

1:00 – Common Cathedral – Brewer Fountain in Boston Common, an outreach mass specifically for the large homeless population, many people attend.

2:30 – A conversation with the Reverend Pamela Werntz of Emmanuel Church

7:00 – Dinner at Trinity Church

8:00 – Compline Service Trinity Church – Copley Plaza

Return to Friendly Crossways – journal, sing, sleep

Common Cathedral grabbed my attention and made an impact on me. I really liked that a bunch of street people joined. The things they said touched me, like talking about their background and honoring their mothers because of Mothers’ Day. This service was one of my favorites because I could see that so many people of different kinds and backgrounds could come together and become a community.


Today was amazing because I could see how everything was the same. It felt like all of the services were one giant full day service that was repeating. It was amazing, also, to see how everyone had a unique way of practicing the same thing.


Trinity Church had a very different feel from anywhere else we have been, The candles and incense really made it feel like a time of silence and thought. We did not participate in the compline service much, but it was actually better for me. I felt like it was more of a meditation and a time to look inside rather than be putting so much energy into prayers.


The smell of incense

smoke rises into the air like a cloud

the room,

almost all candle lit,

Beautiful stained glass


I am almost able to feel peoples prayers.


sitting across from and next to me.

Carefully molded cross

hanging from the ceiling.

The choir,

singing songs in unison,

getting closer and closer to God.


Religion, to me, is a way to understand the profound. It is a way to manifest this bigger force in life that we can not understand. We can make sense of the things we can’t grasp. It is present within all of us, we just use different methods to make it tangible.


What a pleasure to hear the powerful words of the homeless. So much wisdom and experience. There was a great amount of energy when we formed a circle and sang, Young and old, healthy and sick, wealthy and poor, but at that moment we were one.


The compline service was very different from everything else that we have done so far. I really enjoyed it. The fact that is was so silent was really relaxing, and I appreciated that they didn’t have us constantly standing up and sitting down.


Today is the kind of day where I feel the most grateful for the gift we have of taking this journey of discovery of something much greater than self.


Compline at Trinity Church

River of Spirit Odyssey 2016 – Day 3

Saturday, May 7 

Breakfast at Friendly Crossways – take the vans to:

10:00 – Morning Shabbat at Temple Beth Zion in Brookline

12:00 – Lunch (school purchase) and Conversation with Reb Moshe

2:00 –Thousand Buddha Temple – Quincy, Massachusetts

4:15 – Holy Trinity Orthodox CathedralMeet with Father Robert M. Arida and attend Vigil for the Resurrection.

6:30 – Dinner City Place Food Court

8:00 – Blue Man Group

Return to Friendly Crossways

Although we wrote and contemplated this extraordinarily full day, by the time we returned to Friendly Crossways there was truly only one thing anyone was capable of, sleep…

Chanting with Master Bhikku Kaizhao



Music from the service at Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral