Think of rain on the roof. The smell of spruce and wet leaves. The intensity of the colors of wet lichen, moss and tree trunks. Think of silence giving way to footsteps on boardwalks and then the increasing occurrence of voices and laughter. All seemed an unfolding, a slow approach to the beginning of the session. Finally, ninety people gathered in Gateway this evening, the largest meeting space at Haystack, used for presentations and orientations for the welcome.
I don’t know if it’s because I have done this fairly often or because Haystack presents a sense of community that is immediate and strong, but as I looked around the room, I felt as if these people had been together in this place for days already. About half of this group has been here before, the other half first-timers. And yet all seemed comfortable and at home.
We were given the rules of citizenship…no alcohol in the studios, watch what you flush down the toilets, the location of the library, etc….and then were sent on to the studios to meet each other for the first time as groups. I am once again pleased and a little humbled by the people in my class, all interesting, lively, curious women from 20-something to 70-something in age.
I told them about a man I met yesterday morning as he was preparing to leave Haystack. He was sitting in his car, diligently looking at a map, moving his finger along a proposed path. I laughed and said that it seemed an old-fashioned thing to be doing. He laughed as well, picked up his iPhone and said that he was using GPS to get to his destination, but that he wanted to know where it was. I thought that it was an apt metaphor for what we are doing. I will be the GPS for a while in class, the woman’s voice that tells you where to turn and how far to go. But they will be looking at their own maps, determining where they are and coming up with their own destinations. Each will have a map of a different somewhere and a different landing place.