Zach lifts his face and arms to the sky in a gesture of awe while standing beneath a quintuple rainbow

Opus Is Magic

By Ruth Hinkle
In August 22, 2016

Opus is a continental young adult retreat that happens each summer. Ruth Hinkle, our program director, attended for the first time in August 2016.

A Story about Magic

That last afternoon, the thunder rumbled, lightning flashed, and slow drops of rain convinced us to move inside. We played games and made music in the comfort of the lodge.

It was the rainbow that drew us outside. A group ran from the covered porch into the rain and I followed, curious.

A friend danced with joy in her rainbow, tie-dye dress…the perfect tribute to the colors in the sky. Another rainbow appeared and people ran to wake friends from naps and fetch them from private, secluded conversations.

More people rushed out of the lodge to pose under the rainbows, sharing laughter and hugs.

Then there were five arcs across the sky as if summoned by our joy.

How Opus was magical and why it matters.

The first time I heard “Opus is magic,” I wanted to believe it. Sounds nice. Who doesn’t love a little magic here and there?

Partway through our five days together, I was surprised to find that I said “Opus is magic” because it was true. We repeated that mantra often. Opus is magic. We said it to celebrate small, wonderful moments we might ignore in other places. We said it because we were awed the beauty of our community, by the beauty of each other. We said it because we believed it, and something this astonished us.

Opus is magic
…because Seren stacked stones to summon a storm.
…because others added to her creation by adding more stones and new piles.
…because the storm came and brought a quintuple rainbow with it.

Opus is magic
…because the dust and dirt sparkled with mica
…because the vistas (and the altitude!) took away our breath
…because a single day contains all the seasons

Opus is magic

…because people invited each other to conversations with sincerity and warmth
…because we were asked to be gentle with each other when we made mistakes
…because we made each other’s wishes come true

Opus was magical because we made it so.

We chose to take delight in the beauty around us. We opened ourselves to vulnerability and wrapped each other in as much warmth and kindness as we could find. We wrote down our wishes for Opus and allowed someone else to fulfill it. We helped others make a dream, even a small dream, come true for someone else. We celebrated with our friends as they received their wish fulfilled. We risked the frustration of sleepy friends so they might see a quintuple rainbow. On the very first night, we blessed the earth with our own light and stardust.

That sounds so simple. We blessed the earth with our own light and stardust. To do so, we embraced the premise that we have worth and that we are powerful enough, magical enough, to be able to offer the earth a blessing. This is no small thing.

So, here’s the takeaway.

Your community is what you, collectively, make of it. Create safe space by acknowledging and cherishing vulnerability. Bring joy by celebrating things that might go unnoticed. Take delight in each other and your relationships. Find ways to affirm and practice the kind of community you want to be.

It is hard work. But it can be done if you’re willing to make your own magic.

Ruth Hinkle is the program director of Faith Architects. She hails from Indianapolis, IN and has been a UU her entire life. When she's not reading books about religion and worship, she can be found enjoying good food with good friends.

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