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“Down to the River to Pray” at Ask & Imagine

by Constance Holman,  Charlottetown, PEI

Gah.  Writing a “short” piece about Ask and Imagine is a cruel and unusual punishment. I could literally write a book about all of the amazing experiences that I had…

p8122819One of the biggest things for me was learning to deal with non-linear thoughts. Personality-wise, I'm very much an intuitive “people person”, but on a day-to-day basis, I operate on a pretty logical level. Things are cause-effect-resolution. And that's pretty much the way things have always been for me.

 But then came ten days in Ontario. And everything I knew was literally blown apart. When people may refer to “brain explosions”, they aren't exaggerating. At all. I was challenged, opened, awestruck, confused, and made reverent. Linear thought disappeared, along with my preconceptions about my life, my friends, and my relationship with God. I made friends with SO many amazing people. I can truthfully say that I've never been in a more powerful community, filled with such love and authenticity. And when I came home, yeah, I wasn't the same person. But you know what? It's OKAY. In fact, I don't think that I've ever been so okay in my life. In the end, I guess that I kind of proved to myself that just when you think you're safe, that everything is black and white, and that you know EXACTLY is going on, there is always someone or something that can throw you for a loop. There is no black and white. There is no linear cause and effect. And now, I have no problem with that.

Case in point: One beautiful morning at Huron University College, myself and four others decided to take advantage of the campus's athletic facilities, and go for a pre-dawn swim. So we roused ourselves at 6AM, still in our pyjamas, and walked across the main road to the UWO Student Centre. It was cold out, the sun not quite being up yet, but still, it was one of the most beautiful mornings I've ever seen. So we got to the pool, and found out that unless we were in triathlon training, the aquatic facilities weren't an option. And we were crushed. We had built up the excitement so much, that all we wanted to do was swim. And then, suddenly, we had to walk back to Henderson and Brough (the houses where we were staying). And linear thought would suggest going back to our nice warm beds, devoid of any swimming.

So as we walked back the campus, in contemplation, out of the blue, we were struck with an idea. A crazy, ill-planned and slightly icky idea, but an idea nonetheless. Behind the residences, there is a RIVER. More of a creek, actually. A scummy and slightly suspect creek to be more accurate, but that morning, in that frame of mind, it was perfect. So we walked down the trail, into the woods, and out on to the riverbank. And it was ridiculously tranquil. The sun rising caused a fine mist to rise above the water, and all we 


could hear were birds singing, and an occasional car going down the highway. And we swam. And I can't lie. It was cold, and slightly icky. And the water only came up to about mid-torso. BUT, amidst the unidentified squishiness of the riverbed, and drying off our shivering bodies, I had the time of my life. Really and truthfully. It's funny how we gauge happiness, but this was definitely it. There's no other way to explain it.

Want to find inner peace? Want to know who some real friends are? Go down to the river to swim, at 6 in the morning…

Strangely, this is one of my favourite memories of my time at A&I. And I don't know why (does anyone, really? memories are funny like that…) And I wouldn't change a thing about it. This whole experience has been so unbelievably incredible that I can't even find words to describe it. Honest to God.

So that, for what it's worth, is just a tiny fragment of what I experienced this summer. I wouldn't trade it for the world. The people, the “aha” moments, and the fun times. All of it. All defying description…


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