The beaches in Greece are not always perfect. The black bed of rock I stood on, years ago, was difficult to walk on, large round stones that were smooth individually, but a rough surface to maneuver all at once. The world often comes at you with all the appearance of something perfectly smooth, perfectly beautiful – but only when you are not able to see the forest for the trees. It takes that moment of standing on the heaps of uncomfortable rock to let it sink in. Stepping back and noticing that the forest prickles when you try to walk through – that when you look too close, none of the pieces fit together – takes courage and a staunch countenance, for it forces us to face a reality we are loath to see.
We are so far from ideal. Each of us works on our own edges, trying to smooth ourselves out, and forget, often, to try and fit in with the other smooth rocks. The water can wash over us all, as experience does, wearing you away to smaller bits, easier to handle and fit. And as much as that inevitable understanding creeps up on us, the desire is in my soul to know now, and it is in many of you, I imagine. I forget too often about the rocks around me, and I want to make every effort to slip right in with them. I want to dive into the cold ocean alongside every other smooth stone like me, and like you, each so unlike any other.
Since taking my time in India, working with children who spoke a different language, and at the Indian Institute for Cerebral Palsy with those who developed entirely new methods of communication, and throughout my time in other countries, I have begun to believe something about black beaches. They are the way of the world, and it is up to us to bridge those gaps by connecting, one by one, with each other. By reaching out to whole communities with words or actions. With quick hugs and the squeeze of a hand. For it is my firm belief that you can close chasms with the squeeze of a hand.
GCY is a big step, for me and for all of you, to closing chasms, to fitting together many smooth stones. To bridging the gap between you and a community in Ecuador that I am going to want to share with you. To bridging the gap in understanding between two cultures, a gap which need not exist. This is a year for our international community, taken from the center of everything, when I hope to be most able. A year to hold life to a different light and see if and how it is possible to touch many things at once and pull them together, as I so wish to do. It is my sincere wish that you will fit your edges in with mine and join me in this adventure of an endeavor.