a week to fill one’s spirit.

25 Jul

Where can Unitarian Universalists of all ages go on a nature hike in the morning, do a chocolate tasting in the afternoon, attend worship which contains both an inspiring message and amazing music in the evening, and then go kick up your heels in what feels like a loving night-club environment? And then either mix it up or do it all again the next day? The answer is SUUSI, the Southern UU Summer Institute, held this year on the campus of Virginia Tech.

I have to say, I am sold. This was my first UU summer institute (or summer camp), and I loved it.  In fact, the whole family is sold – and getting an extrovert (me), an introvert (spouse), and 2 kids (14 and 11) to agree on anything is pretty much a miracle.

SUUSI Drop-in Choir at Wednesday Evening Worship

SUUSI Drop-in Choir at Wednesday Evening Worship

Never having been to anything like this before, I was invited to provide worship one time during the week. My family and I took that as an opportunity to check it out and see if all the great things we had heard about SUUSI are true (they are!). So we loaded up the car and hit the road. Actually, one of us hit the road heading east from home, two of us hit the road heading west from a visit with Grandma and Grandpa, and I hit the airport to fly there after a pretty intense and wonderful week as the chaplain at MidWest Leadership School. We really had to work to get there – and it was totally worth it.

In truth, I wasn’t much for the workshops and adventures – my spouse and I signed up for a morning workshop, and it was wonderful. But other than that, I was mostly about rest. Long summer walks, meals that I didn’t have to prepare (or even think about!), and checking in with the kids a few times a day to see how they were doing – the teenager was in the teen dorm and tasted independence in a new way, and the tween was with the “middlers” who had fun, scheduled activities for much of the day. Activities, mind you, that I did not have to plan!

Multigenerational Community Time at SUUSI

Multigenerational Community Time at SUUSI

Early in the week, the evenings saw us playing board and card games with old and new friends, but after a few nights in, we decided to check out the very robust night-life.  My spouse and I went to a concert from a fabulous musician and then kicked off our shoes (literally!) at not one, but TWO different dance halls. I haven’t danced like that since my twenties!

The next night I wept during the Transitions worship service as I watched teens make the leap (literally) into the waiting arms of a young adult ready to welcome them into their new status as a YA, and then more music, and more dancing.

When we arrived on Sunday, people told us that this one week filled their spirits for the year. Frankly, I was skeptical. But not anymore. Now I am a believer. SUUSI’s mission, which they incarnate beautifully, is:

to provide a one week experience evoking the best within us, in concert with Unitarian Universalist principles. SUUSI offers the opportunity to share an intergenerational environment of love, personal freedom, ethics, and joy in an intentional, nonjudgmental community.

The dates for next year’s SUUSI have been announced, and a new location found. It will be even closer to home than VA Tech. But people come from all over, so don’t let the location be a deterrent. I’ve already put it on our family calendar. If this sounds appealing to you, I suggest you do as well.  I hope to see you there!

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