Manual labor and ice cream? I was immediately in.
A day later, four of us made our way into the basement that will one day be an awesome chapel space. We surveyed the situation (lots of "potential" if you catch my drift), geared up (dust masks have never looked so stylish), and got to work.
There's truth in the old adage "many hands make for light work." By our powers combined, we were able to get the space all cleaned and ready for the crew who would come in later to lay the floor. It only took a little more than an hour, but the room completely transformed. I think we were all surprised at how quickly it all came together.
But the real surprise came later.
I don't remember how the conversation got started. Maybe it just came out of the comfortable silence that happens between people who have just bonded over a shared experience. But while we were perched outside of Kilwins enjoying our ice cream, I remember Rachel opening up and admitting, "I feel like I've been fighting something and I just can't figure out what I'm fighting. I don't know what it is, but I've just been feeling frustrated and angry and I don't know why."
You know what I felt? Relief. It was like she had just looked into all the stuff that was swirling around in my heart and put my emotions into words. But as I was getting ready to tell her that, Casey spoke up and said, "Me too."
I don't know if I can describe it correctly, but suddenly we weren't just fellow workers. In the time it took to eat a few bites of ice cream, we became brothers in arms. Separately, we had all been struggling with the same thing. Fighting a battle but afraid to speak up. Because who wants to admit they're struggling? Especially if they can't find a name or a reason for what they're fighting. Besides, we're all normally fun, quirky, creative people. People who are passionate about lifting the burdens of others, not adding to them with our own.
Oddly enough, the wisdom of Luna Lovegood came to mind.
Luna: We believe you, by the way. That He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is back, and you fought him, and the Ministry and the Prophet are conspiring against you and Dumbledore.
Harry: Thanks. Seems you’re about the only ones that do.
Luna: I don’t think that’s true. But I suppose that’s how he wants you to feel.
Harry: What do you mean?
Luna: Well if I were You-Know-Who, I’d want you to feel cut off from everyone else. Because if it’s just you alone you’re not as much of a threat.
(Order of the Phoenix)
Ironically, Rachel sharing her burden didn't make mine heavier. In some sort of reverse physics, sharing her burden ended up lifting mine and when I left for home that night, it wasn't just the room that had been been transformed. Sure, my circumstances were still the same. And to be honest, the battle still raged. But suddenly, I didn't feel so alone. My nameless fear had become a common foe.
And somehow that changed everything.