Published: February 11th 2006December 4th 2004
As our semester came to a close, the whole group headed up to the Delta region to spend a weekend at a Coptic Church retreat centre called Anafora
. We were the only large group there, and really had the whole place to ourselves. Aside from the staff that work at the centre and the laborers working the fields (it is a working farm) we really had the run of the place. Feeling the need for some alone time, I arranged for a private room and couldn’t help but love the place for providing such simplicity while meeting every need. Due to it being our ‘farewell’ outing for the semester, we had to have a ‘processing’ session on how this would be impacting our lives etc. I don’t mean to bash these, but I had already had 3 of them this year and really didn’t learn anything new from this one. We also had a ‘encouragement circle’ in the meditation room. I guess these things are meant to send everybody off with a warm fuzzy feeling. Being so excited about the prospect of going, I had to enquire with the staff to see if it was actually required. Once it
The ambiance was simplicity and meditation. No direct light, but a hot shower just steps away. It got cold in the morning (no heat), but it was December.
was over, I had to concede that it could have been worse. Even so, it felt like everybody tried to dig deep and say things that often were not sincere or just came across as plastic. That aside, it was a good evening, and the circle even provided an opportunity to learn more about some of the people that I would be saying goodbye to just a few days later.
During this time, I did a lot of thinking about how friendships played into my life. As the semester came to a close, I had been to over 20 countries that year. I had been able to get to know several people fairly well, only to ‘move on’ in my life and stumble upon another bunch of friends. Perhaps I am just getting sentimental, but my mindset simply does not allow for going through such amazing life experiences as this program has afforded me and then walk away from it as if the people I got to know where just individuals I had sat next to on the airplane. Sure, I will ‘keep up’ with some. But even this has its limits. In a few months, regardless of how
amazing the time has been, it is only possible to get to know a certain number of people so well. Out of those, only a set number are going to even feel the same way I do about keeping in touch. Of these, only a handful will actually want to keep in touch with me. For a split second I wondered, would I have made better friendships if I had stayed in Canada and spent four years plodding away in boring Langley? No, I think not. I may have sat with friends for a longer time, but there would have been no ‘cement’ to keep us connected once the term was over. We may have shared lots of normal university experiences, but nothing compared to what we have done here over in Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and all over Egypt. Maybe some of you have some thoughts on this? It just strikes me that in this modern era, with so many people relocating so many times, the idea of the lifelong friendship is more of a myth than something that can be actually realized. We have the technology to keep up with each other in ways that would have been unimaginable
just forty years ago. Heck, I have a phone number in North America that forwards (at no expense to the caller) to my computer, wherever in the world it may be. This being the case, not more than a handful of people take advantage of it. Has the extent of our personal technology made it impossible for us to actually harness the potential of interpersonal connectivity that it allows? A parting thought from Anafora.
There are more photos below