A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.
– Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
This quote completes my thoughts of the fellowship so far. Here I am, about to start week 10, near the halfway point of the fellowship. I can honestly say that I am not who I was 9 weeks ago, and I am near positive I will not be the same at the end of the fellowship, as I am today.
This blog is for you to gain a better understanding as to what the fellowship is truly like. Besides the fun and random stories that go on in the lives of the fellows each week (i.e.- a car nearly falling on the heads of 3 fellows last week… see Natalie’s week 8 post), there is much personal development and professionally development. So far in the NFS fellowship, my worldviews, personal beliefs, personality, professional skills, talents, strengths, and weaknesses have all been tested and stretched farther than I thought humanly possible. There have been many laughs, a few tears, and a lot of introspection during these past 9 weeks.
Now I know, I’m painting this to be a gruelling and tortuous experience, but in reality, it’s been quite the opposite. It has been a trying experience, but there is a great support system in place at NFS. The staff is liberal with encouragement and only criticise in love, so that you may grow professionally and personally. Everyone has the same end goal in mind: to re-abolish slavery during our lifetime. This goal keeps everyone focused, and makes everyone work together in ways I haven’t seen before. NFS is truly a unique organisation with a unique staff all bringing different experiences and perspectives to the table in the fight against slavery. It’s pretty exciting to be a part of this moment in NFS history.
Being an artist, a person of faith, and a science nerd, I often reflect on current situations in this frame of mind. For instance, the experience of the NFS fellowship is comparable to that of a silversmith in ancient Israel. Often times, Silver has many impurities in it, so it must be refined. The Silver would be put into a fire, heated up to approximately 1700 degrees Fahrenheit, and then poured into clay jars to cool. As the metal cooled, impurities would float to the top and stick to the sides of the clay jars. This process would be repeated over and over until the Silver was pure. The silversmith knew the Silver was purest when he looked into the jar and saw a perfect reflection. It is only when the Silver is pure that the silversmith could turn it into a functional piece of work; be it a sword, shield, bracelet or necklace.
All this to say, I am in the Refiner’s fire, becoming the person I need to become to do this job well. The ‘impurities’ that could get in the way of being an abolitionist are being burned away. Though it hurts sometimes, it’s necessary, and I can never return to the same “dimensions” I once was. I have become a smarter activist today than I was 9 weeks ago. I have become a more effective abolitionist today than I was 9 weeks ago. And, I will continue to be refined into a smart and effective abolitionist by the fellowship’s end.