|by Murray Archibald|
|Making a House a Home
Because of our move into the new Community Center building, all of us here at CAMP Rehoboth started the summer at full speed and haven't slowed down since. Though we have made a great deal of progress, there is still a lot of work to do before we finally make this house into a true home for our community. Several times lately (including in these pages, I think) I've had to remind myself that it has taken us 15 years to get to this point, and that the whole process is an ongoing, creative endeavor that will not happen overnight.
At the start of the summer when we were caught up in the midst of the move, I almost forgot that everything takes time. I was, I'm sure, impatientwith myself and with those around mewanting everything to be perfect, when, in fact, the move was only another beginning, another step in the process that is the life of CAMP Rehoboth.
I grew up in a religious home in Alabama. My father is a retired Methodist minister who, by the way, always treated Steve and me in the same way he treats all the other couples in our familywith a great deal of love and respect. As children, my brothers and sister and I grew up attending Sunday School every week, and along the way learned a little song about the church that I'm sure is familiar to many. It involved putting your fingers together to form a building and then opening them to show the people inside. "Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors, there are the people." The point being, of course, that it was not the building but the people who made a church. That same point holds true for the Community Center, as well. Yes, the building is an important symbol and we will all keep working hard to build it, but the people of our community are its heart and what gives it life.
The office that Steve and I share in the new Community Center building is on the second floor, and the window beside my desk overlooks the CAMP Rehoboth courtyard. From that window I can see the people of our communityyoung and old, men and women, gay couples, straight couples (both with children), teenagers with a cocky attitude and questions in their eyes, laughing queens whose eyes tell a deeper story, "dykes on bikes" who are anything but tough, summer visitors in sandals searching for a morning coffee and a quick read for the beach, sometimes a business meeting, or a secret rendezvous, new lovers, old lovers, rejected lovers, party boys, and earth mothers, lipstick lesbians and musclemen, some who want to be seen and those who try to disappear. There is often laughter, sometimes tears, the occasional strident voice rising in argument or outrage, or the one sided fragment of a cell phone conversationnonsensical, disconnectedsometimes there is music, and the barking of dogs, and sometimes there is just peace, and quiet, and you can once in a while in the first light of morning hear the sound of the ocean waves breaking on the beach that brought us all here in the first place.
The magical thing about the people in our community is that we come from so many different placesnot just geographical places but places of the heart, places of the soul. Many times over the years I have commented about Rehoboth Beach being a crossroadsa place where people connect. I believe that is why CAMP Rehoboth has been successful, because we are able to connect with so many different people from so many different places. The courtyard of CAMP Rehoboth has always been a magical space for me. It has for 15 years been a free space for our community, and its preservation is an important part of the plans for the community center.
Someday all of us who have labored to build this house will be gone. Whether that time comes in five or fifty years, none of us can know (though I must say that the thought of still doing Sundance when we're 100 years old really does not conjure up a very pretty picture). All we can do is try to build a strong foundation for those who will come after usand for the people who are CAMP Rehoboth. We can build the most magnificent house in the world, but without the living hearts of the people of our community it will never be a home.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 9 July 15, 2005