That Was The Week That Was

When I was growing up, us 5 kids and our parents sat in front of a black and white Zenith or Motorola or a brand like that once a week and watched the English on BBC make fun of everybody else in the world, especially us very distant cousins across the “pond” in a show called That Was the Week that Was (the sixth Sands kid was “to be” after the show got cancelled), Iremember some of the humor, that what I could understand. What I do remember was a firehose of understated and very British 1960s riffing on current events.

Almost none of that memory applies to the “week that just was” for Pamlico Rose and Rose Haven Center of Healing, except when I look back at the last three or four months, that show crowded into my thoughts. Maybe it was the sense of family that created a comfortable feeling and I always remember the very British accents.

Our Rose family ebbs and flows, it is indeed like a graduating class, once you step away from volunteering, you are then an alumnus which bestows on you the opportunity to come back as many times as you want, sort of mini reunions. You will always be from the class of Pamlico Rose, the month or year immaterial to your reconnection. Even if your tenure with us is fleeting or more long term, those of us who volunteer to come to toil in the dirt or renovate a wooden memory choose to do so for reasons that echo the importance of the foundational pillars that help us define wellness, nature, creative expression, movement and building community, for women Veterans, for Veterans overall and for those in the community. 

As our Rose Haven Center of Healing has grown and evolved over the last three years, so too has grown the number of our Center alumni, so too has the number of those whose relationship with the Center is both frequent and enduring. At some point, the healing properties of reclaiming and sustaining so interwoven in our mission and its expression in the Center find willing recipients in those who give. To flip John Donne on his side, when he wrote about the effect of death being felt by all, “therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee”; what motivates those of us long termers sooner or later reveal the core truth of being human, that to help others be well, the bell of healing in the end tolls just as much for those who give of mind, body and soul. too. In other words, in a past column I wrote, to help others take flight, allows those giving to soar.

These several weeks that were poignantly reminded me of this fundamental truth of being a Center alumnus, in the end there is no distinction between who is healing, and who is there to offer support. Selfishly, if for a moment, that’s how non-profits survive; we tug on the rope of that bell often. The ring that called three years to former art teacher Edna and returners Navy Veteran Herb and ROTC Tar Heel Gavin, rang recently to Melissa, USAF Reservist Shannon, Amanda, ReAnne, and now Lilian. It rang long enough for Jensen, VMI student Lucas, Army Vet Jeremiah, Mary Lynn, Army Vet Marci, three teams of Mormon women missionaries, and a workday a month for 2021 for ECU service sorority, Epsilon Sigma Alpha, to experience changing seasons before moving on. It rang loud enough to bring USAF Vet Scott to us from Missouri and Becky from Maine and still rings to Emily in abstention. As we transition from renovation to programming, volunteers like Betty, Rhea, Gabi and LouAnn and others help us keeping ringing the bell as we extend our mission to those women Veterans and others at-risk elsewhere. The gardens and Center live in the support we give beyond the Center’s physical borders.

I was reminded of the bell this morning as we once again bid farewell to Gavin over breakfast until his winter break, just like we did to Emily leaving over two years ago, and as we will do the same to Scott in a month as he brings his year of volunteering to a close and returns to Missouri. People finish their tenure at Rose Haven when it is time; for some it is a calendar or a move that calls them away, for others their “spiritual” batteries have been recharged, a few of these return to recharge again. We are sad when folks leave, but we celebrate their time with us more.

That will always be part of the week that was for Pamlico Rose giving thanks for and to those who heard the bell.

Dr. Robert Greene Sands

The PRI Breakfast Club spanning 2 1/2 years – some leave, taking the spirit of Rose Haven with them, many return, and a few remain finding purpose in the life cycle of the gardens.

Shep’s Grill, Washington, NC