Sunday, 31 August 2008

For 2 Days!!

For 2 days I traveled to the heart of the Midwest and returned to a world that is both unreal and surreal.

For 2 days I subsisted on iced water and the occasional chocolate chip cookie! The food in this place is not much better then it used to be! I lost 2 pounds. Works better than Weight Watchers!

For 2 days I sang until I was hoarse and I played until my fingers bled! Lyrics returned to my lips and chords to my hands that I thought were long forgotten. For 2 days there were no egos and it didn't matter if I led or followed. I didn't stress over capo settings or tunings. For 2 days the passion in the music returned!

For 2 days I was re-energized, re-invigorated, and revitalized. I recalled, recollected, remembered and reminisced.

For 2 days I refused to see the receding hairlines, crow's feet and expanding waistlines. Instead, I chose to see lean young men with tans and curly lush manes preening for fresh-faced young girls who didn't care about makeup and polish, because they didn't need to. For 2 days we were all 18 again!

For 2 days I laughed until I cried, I laughed until I wheezed, I laughed until I peed and I laughed until I puked! I laughed at old stories and at inside jokes. I laughed at old photographs. old hairstyles and old outfits! I laughed at myself and my seriousness. I laughed so hard it hurt and pain never felt so good.

For 2 days I was insulated and isolated. I had forgotten how nice it was to leave reality at the gates and not worry about the outside world. For 2 days I didn't care about McCain's VP or whether Gustav had New Orleans in his sights. I didn't care about the news or the TV! I had entered utopia. For 2 days I was totally and blissfully relaxed.

For 2 days I watched young girls whom I had once cared for and helped nurture, become confident, strong and independent women. They are physicians and lawyers, teachers, rabbis and stay-at-home moms. I watched these little girls (in grown women's bodies) chase after their own and I blushed in embarrassment as they thanked me for the role that I had played in their lives. For 2 days I was den mother to a generation!

For 2 days I rediscovered my purpose and I remembered why it is I do what I do!

For 2 days I watched with parental pride as Younger Son assumed the mantle of musical leadership (not to mention my guitar!) as two generations of our family songled on Shabbat! I watched on in amazement as Older Son morphed into an adult before my eyes, as he gently and patiently helped young children on the Migdal. (climbing tower) Not because he had to, but because he chose to! For 2 days I watched my sons carry themselves with a confidence and a surety, developed in a place where they fit. It has given them a set of life skills that I could never alone have taught them.

For 2 days I endured aching feet, (from trudging up and down the stone paths) insect bites, dehydration and a constant state of perspiration! And, I loved every minute of it!

For 2 days I marvelled at the husband. He drove 20 hours (10 each way!), endured a painful lineup at the border, (almost and hour and a half!) and all of the above pestilence, just so that we could have this weekend. It is true that this is his place as well, but his time there was shorter and less consuming. He did this for me and the boys and for that he gets a big sloppy wet one!

For 2 days I saw what true gratitude looks like. I saw it in 500 faces as they paid tribute to the man in charge! I saw it in his tear-stained cheeks and heard it in his cracked voice as he struggled for the right words of thanks. I saw it as people reached into their wallets, beyond their means, to add a new piece to his already full legacy. I experienced it as we rose en masse to salute his life's work.

For 2 days my spirituality was renewed and my faith restored. As we prayed together on Shabbat morning; babies, children, youth and not so youth, I felt something within me stir. I was brought to tears by an alumnus' words as he linked the past to the present and maybe the future! I marveled in the enormity of the talent. I was inspired by the sheer power of simply being back in this place. Somewhere in those voices and in those images, I saw heaven and earth touch .

For 2 days I played, I connected, I hugged, I cried and I was more myself than I had been in a very long time. For 2 days-- I was home!!!


  1. Thanks Dawn - you captured it all. I'm sitting in the business center at our hotel because for our two days home I've had the opportunity to take it all in and breathe before re-entering the craziness that is our day to day life. Ahhhh.

    Judy -

  2. We arrived home a few hours ago and I clicked on the bookmark "Dawn Ponders" with hope and anticipation that you would have had a chance to post a reflection of the weekend past.
    You caused me to smile that
    glassy-eyed smile, of tears and joy, a smile that was the secret handshake of the reunion. Thanks Dawn for extending the magic of the experience just a little longer.

  3. Dawn, as always your smart writing captured what has always been so magical about GUCI. I mean it when I say that I was heartbroken to miss this wonderful weekend... but I knew I was in the right place as I gazed at my father-in-law and the appreciation on his wizened, dying face. I plan to show your post to anybody who wants to understand why the heck we all care so much about this camp and our incredible leader. Thanks for putting it into words.

  4. Dawn - I found the link to your blog on Ian' s page (which I got, in turn, from Jenn Steinberg). I guess what Shur's say is true - everything is connected.

    Anyway, I was not able to make it to the reunion but wanted to thank you for your beautiful thoughts and reflections about the weekend. All of the photos and recollections people have been putting out there have made me feel like I was able to experience at least a tiny bit of the weekend myself. Of course there is no substitute for GUCI itself or the feeling one gets upon stepping foot on camp property.

    Suzanne Speyer Rosenthall

  5. This is so beautiful -- perfect! If its not too late, it would be so great to include as a post script in the GUCI memory book. I'm going to email Ron. Dawn, thanks so much for putting this down in words. It was wonderful seeing you (all)! love--Amy (Gorodetzky) Nefouse