Ask what Calvin students did last weekend and you would probably hear stories ranging from the bubbling of answer sheets in plain-boring classrooms to the leisurely strolls along the beautiful Lake Michigan. Scores of students came to the Calvin campus to write the GRE and teacher certification tests, international students travelled to Chicago for their annual retreat, the Office of Christian Formation led a silent retreat at Camp Geneva, and the S-LC held their retreat at the Beversluis cottage.
As serious shalom farmers, intellectually inclined and socially engaged, we watched and discussed Meeting David Wilson http://meetingdavidwilson.com. The video introduced two men by the same name, one’s black and the other’s white. What’s significant was the fact that the black Wilson’s great grandfather was a slave to the white Wilson’s family 3 generations ago. Thus it was interesting to investigate how much of that history affects the two Wilsons, who live their lives as free men in the 21st century.
What caught my attention most about this video was the journey of self-identity for the black Wilson. He not only has to consider who he is as an individual, which is a normal ongoing process for most conscious people, but also to make sense of what his ancestral heritage means in the context of contemporary America. Having to reconcile identity dissonance is tough, but his seems tougher. Perhaps that’s the extra challenge many African-Americans face.
Like a looking glass, this video mirrored the issue of race as an issue society knows exists but doesn’t quite know how to approach. The video encouraged the pursuing discussion in many directions, and I am sure it inspired our staff to identify better ways to further engage the Calvin community on the issue of race. Unfortunately, faithful to what retreat means, yours truly dozed off the last ten minutes of the video and couldn’t quite keep up with the multi-faceted discussion. So that partly explains his posting his thoughts here.
The retreat was also a wonderful time of getting-to-know fellow staff members. Like coordinating StreetFest, the retreat helped build camaraderie.Everyone communicated at deeper interpersonal levels and more extensively than what the little common time we had in the office allowed. Individuals shared their dreams for a better world, graduation plans, and even cooking tips.
If only we didn’t have homework, and learned how to lift the weight of the world off our tiny shoulders, we could have had let our hair down a little more.