It was the last night of camp. I’d had a long week, as we all had; I was tired, stressed, and utterly exhausted. We gathered for the last closing circle. I wanted to be more excited about it, be more emotionally invested at that moment but to be completely honest, I felt weary. But I smiled and went about my job, because that’s what we do at camp: we push through. We push through our last drop of energy and find, somewhere, yet another reserve.
We all held hands, making our “Big Circle,” and I ended up next to one of my co-coaches. He put his hand in mine, and all I could think at first was, “ew…gross.” His hand was slippery, covered in sweat, (I’m sure my own was the same), and I wanted the closing circle to end, to find my way to bed. But then, as the singing began and my friend gripped my slippery hand tighter in his, I could feel his heart beating through the palms of our hands.
I won’t lie; as I said I was weary and I was ready for a break. As my alertness faltered, the feel of his heartbeat pulled me back to the moment. I looked up at the deep, indigo night and thought about all the bombs and rockets that had flown over that very same sky. I looked up at the moon and thought about the time that had passed since I’d arrived. I gazed up at the stars, remembering how small we were and how we might as well all stick together as long as we’re here.
I felt myself pulled back in: back into the heart of Ultimate Peace as I watched us all simply be, and I felt not just one but all of our heartbeats. Simply by holding hands, I could feel the beat that kept this young man next to me alive. And if I could feel it, he could too. So could others. And I looked around the Big Circle, the Ma’agal Gadol, the Dayirat Kabira, trying to memorize each face, so that I could remember this scene when I needed it most. I wanted to remember what it felt like to feel so many heartbeats around me, each one stronger than the next, unstoppable together. There was so much life, and as I looked up into the stars I resolved to always look for the heartbeats of others: to reach out and connect, to promise a hope for a better, more peaceful future. Our combined heartbeats, I know, are stronger than we can imagine.
I draw back on that memory, paint the scene in my mind. In my mind, I walk up to each and every member of our Ultimate Peace community, and to my friends and family and countless strangers back home, and I promise them that I will keep working. That we will keep going, together. That our hearts can beat collectively, as one. That I will use my desire for peace between cultures, harmony between governments, unity amongst ourselves, as fuel for action. Today, I am thankful for the memory of heartbeats colliding, together beating for understanding, for hope, and for peace. Today, I imagine gripping the hands that possess such an unconquerable beat. Today, I think of millions of hearts beating as one.