Oh, Shenandoah, I long to hear you…

Posted June 12th, 2012 by

Whenever I’m here, the song gently plays in my mind over and over. I never tire of it. As with many American folk songs of uncertain origin, the meaning of Oh, Shenandoah is unclear. For me, I simply long to return here whenever I can; to the home of Coming to the Table. This is where Sharon Morgan and I met four years ago this month; where the seed was planted that grew into a journey; the story of which Beacon Press will publish in October: our book, Gather at the Table.

Yesterday morning I set my alarm for 5:30 so I could watch the sunrise over the hills above the Shenandoah Valley from my favorite perch on the hill that rises high above and behind Eastern Mennonite University. It was spectacular…

I then walked the labyrinth that rests partway up the hill, and only a short walk from where I stay when I’m here. I try to begin my mornings with some form of meditative practice like this; particularly on the first day.

On the first day of each session of the Summer Peacebuilding Institute, students from all the classes (anywhere from 3-5 classes are offered during each of the 4 sessions each year) gather for an opening ceremony. Everyone briefly introduces themselves and shares where they are from. In this week’s session there are approximately 70 students. I wrote down as many of the countries as I could. This happens quickly so I missed one or two. I encourage you to take a moment and read the names of the countries to get a sense of the global impact that EMU has in training peacebuilders.

Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, England, Haiti, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, South Sudan, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine, United States,  and Zimbabwe.

Twenty-nine countries. Seventy students. Amazing, huh?

I encourage anyone who is interested in trauma healing, conflict resolution, restorative justice, or other peacebuilding skills to learn more about SPI and consider traveling to the Shenandoah Valley next summer. It will change your life, empower you, and connect you with a worldwide network of allies in creating a better, more peaceful world.

And who knows, maybe you’ll meet someone and write a book. At the very least, you’re thinking will be challenged, your peacebuilding skills will improve, and you’ll have the opportunity to catch some wonderful sunrises.

I’ll share more about the particular class I’m participating in over the coming days, but I gotta run now. The second day of class starts in a few minutes…

One response to “Oh, Shenandoah, I long to hear you…”

  1. Prinny Anderson says:

    Now the song is running in my mind!

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