We zip lined super-man style across a giant gorge. As we crossed over a waterfall, I got a slight glimpse of what life is like for a bird. We hopped into a cable car for the same ride, just a different view. A favorite was a hike to Devil's Cauldron where we witnessed and indulged in the incredible power of water.
At points in the hike, we had to crouch into an almost fetal position to fit under the low hanging cave; once at the top, many of the students completely indulged in the waterfall by sticking their heads in the rush...collectively, we were soaked.
The next day included a tour of an animal rescue, but these weren't the usual animals in a zoo. I haven't put my finger on it, but it was something extraordinary. Maybe it was the rain, sloshing through puddles in our galoshes, or looking face to face into the eyes of a cougar...or flipping the turtle upright after we witnessed it falling off a bush and onto its back.
Unlike ordinary zoo animals who seem aloof to the public's presence, these exotic creatures rushed to interact with us, to get as close as they could. Maybe it was that these animals had been trafficked illegally and this was their refuge. The least among us were now incapable of surviving in the wild; perhaps these animals were like the children who have been gathered into the refuges we have been serving. Having lost the environment into which they were born, the children are completely dependent upon the compassionate, loving service of others.
Refuge: a shelter or protection from danger or trouble.
Refuge. In each other. In our beliefs. In giving.