On the Island

Gratitude – a Testimonial By Joyce Pickel

(edited for brevity)

Getting the official notification that Star would not be opening this year was not a surprise, but we were so sad when it arrived. I thought of all the preparations all the incoming conference chairs, registrars, and youth leaders had done, all the Star staff and incoming Pelican staff had planned for this summer, and I thought of all the disappointed conferees that had already registered. I am especially sad for my high school junior granddaughter Mandy, whose last summer as part of the youth program was not going to happen.
In this difficult, scary time, it would have been wonderful to be in the huge embrace that is Star for many of us, but this just isn’t feasible now. I keep reading that one technique for dealing with the anxiety is to make a gratitude list and so here some are the Star things I am grateful for:

  • As a 16 year old, I came to Star without my family and experienced a life changing week.
  • When I came to Star with my boyfriend a few years later, he fell in love with it too.
  • It is where we met our dearest, closest friends, who have become family to us, that same year.
  • Where in 1969 that same boyfriend proposed to me beside the chapel looking at the moon and its reflection on the water.
  • That my parents also started coming to Star and that it became their favorite place for the next 30+ years.
  • Returning as a conferee with my teenage children for their first time and experiencing all the traditions with them.
  • Introducing our first grandchild, the first of the 4th generation of our family of Shoalers to Star.
  • Becoming chairs for our conference in 1998, a rewarding and exciting honor.
  • Being Registrar for our conference for two years which not only expanded my circle of conferee friends but also introduced me to wonderful, dedicated, capable Star staff members I wouldn’t have gotten to know otherwise.
  • Making wonderful friendships, making music, sharing meals, listening, learning.
  • Watching our grandchildren enjoy and thrive at Star.
  • And, perhaps, most importantly, participating in our chapel services, both lay and clergy led, some of the most meaningful services I have been privileged to be part of, as an attendee, a singer, and twice as one of the leaders.

As I look over my list what I realize is that what I have been so lucky to have experienced over the years is friendship, fun, spiritual uplifting, love, and joy.
I am sure that all Old Shoalers can create their own Star gratitude lists and I hope they will. How lucky we have been to have had this opportunity in our lives. This is what I will remember on these difficult days and especially when August rolls around. Star.
S – T – A – R

(Thank you to Bob Levine for the photograph.)