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Monday, July 24th
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Northampton, MA

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Freeport and Yarmouth, ME – July 23

Freeport, Maine

Before we left our campsite, we prayed for the right weather for the Caravan, whatever that would be. Over breakfast we talked about the recent days and what this one might hold for us. We were all thankful to be part of the Merrymakers Caravan, even though some of us were three weeks into this portion. Nehemiah and his wife Derusha were about four months into the whole of it — West Coast, the South, and New England. “Together”—that was the key word today—together our friendship would show those seeing us the quality and nature of our life together.

Yarmouth

We drove through the Clam Festival at Yarmouth, waving to people, handing out papers, having brief talks on our way. On the far side we pulled over and an ingenious plan was formed: put the musicians and their amplifiers on the back of the Garden bus, which has a kind of porch, and drive back through the meandering, stop-and-go, slow-moving Festival traffic. Like outriders of our Caravan, others of us walked along, speaking to people, offering them the carefully labored-over literature telling of our life and the fatal flaw that afflicts all of mankind.

It was such a spontaneous demonstration of who we are—the buses moseying through the heavy traffic, the young musicians playing with all their hearts, and the Merrymakers walking along the streets on either side of the buses.

The Portland Head Light on Cape Elizabeth

Then we drove to the most-photographed lighthouse in the world, the Portland Head Light on Cape Elizabeth. Originally commissioned by President George Washington, it is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse in the world, from 1790 to the present. At this beautiful hill overlooking the ocean we stopped and ate lunch and, of course, hosted many people who wanted to tour our buses.

Then someone came down from the pavilion above us and invited us to see their group’s dance. They said they had a message about abstinence. They said we could do some dances afterwards. Shortly afterwards, after finishing our very late lunch, we headed up the hill. Soon we were learning all kinds of facts about AIDS and the HIV virus presented in an unusual format of recorded music and break dancing. They sang several of their own songs, and then one of their leaders introduced us, as he had seen us years ago at an event we hosted in Portland, at the same Post Office Square we had been at the day before.

The musicians struck up the tune, and about ten dancers did Al ha-Nissim. Immediately afterwards, Malachi invited everyone to do a simple dance, and we did the “Ancient Song,” Zemer Atik, and so many joined in we didn’t really fit, and the circle became an intricate line coiling in and then out on itself. Everyone not dancing joined in as enthusiastically by clapping their hands. Next, we did the Camel Dance, which everyone really enjoyed and, to top it off, we danced and sang, Od lo Ahavti Dai. The singers sang and the dancers did, too, as we taught the steps to this simple, yet beautiful and meaningful dance…

We came in this world with nothing, we’ll leave it just the same.
What we give each other is all we have to gain.
We build with gold and silver and not with wood or hay;
We’re building for the future with what we give today.

Lastly, Malachi said we had a song to sing them, and we gathered in front, arm in arm, and sang “Come as You Are” with all of our hearts. A recording of this song is here, although one man singing it cannot capture the power of a people united, singing it as their anthem.

As we were “breaking up” to go home, an unprompted, unscripted question and answer session erupted as question followed question. This lasted for ten minutes or more as we answered the sincere questions about our life and vision. Shemuel spoke to the issue of abstinence in light of his experience in courting and marrying Malachi’s daughter, Sarah, saying the first time they kissed, let alone touched each other, was the day of their wedding.

When it was “over,” every one of us simply walked to one of our hosts and started talking, one on one and in small groups. This lasted for another half hour, and we ended up giving nearly all of them tours on our buses, culminating (for a group of us) with tossing the Frisbee and exchanging addresses and e-mail addresses. It was a truly remarkable encounter.

Our buses turned homeward then, the Garden bus to Boston and Peacemaker I and II to Plymouth. Our joyful fellowship, the friendship of lifelong relationships, filled our remaining hours on New England’s freeways. We were very thankful.

More coming soon!!!

For more information contact eastcoast@merrymakerscaravan.org

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Merrymakers' Caravan