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  • I remember that first retreat. They were called the "Pilgrim Fellowship", or PF for short. I was the new kid in town, and I heard about the PF from Mary Kulig, one of the two pretty girls who had met us at our door with the keys to our new house on our first day. Mary and Martha Collins. Mary reminded me of Joni Mitchell, only shorter. Martha had long black hair and stunning eyes. We'd just moved to Windsor, Connecticut from Pittsburgh. I liked the way things were starting out! These two would change me forever.

    I would give Mary rides to school. She played the role of the welcoming committee. She introduced me to other kids at the school - told me about the Pilgrim Fellowship. They met on Sunday nights at the Congregational Church down the road. While they were sponsered by the church, they were a non-denominational group. I only went because I was interested in Mary. I wanted to impress her.

    That first night at PF, I met the people who would become my dearest friends for the next 10 years. I went for a girl, and left with some of the best friends I would ever have, until much later in life.

    That first retreat, the Spring Retreat, a weekend in a Massachussetts forest, I first experienced the sensation of melting spirits together. I became one with a group of about 8 of those kids, as we came together in song, in life stories, in wild fun, in lasting friendship. I had never known such a thing.

    Stairway to Heaven was our theme song. Late one night, walking down a road through the forest, our shadows elongated giants leading the way before us down the road, singing the line "And as we wind on down the road, our shadows taller than our souls..."

    A moment in time, captured forever in my memory's bank, 40 years down the road, some of them now gone, some I may see later this year, for the first time in 30 or more years.
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