During the course of 2015, Belinda Oxenburgh, Dorothy White and Karen Honeybun, embarked on a journey of discovery.
As a student at St Stephen’s School, a Uniting Church school, Belinda took part in The Rite Journey Program and chose Karen, her youth group leader at Trinity North Uniting Church, as her mentor. Part of the program involves a yearlong project, which Belinda chose to share with Dorothy – a member of the congregation, now in her 90s.
Belinda and Karen met regularly with Dorothy and had the privilege of listening to, and getting to know, a dearly loved member of their congregation. Dorothy’s sweet temperament, attentiveness and kindness struck Belinda in their first conversation.
During the course of the year Belinda learnt about Dorothy’s childhood, her family and her marriage to Arthur. These conversations were special times for all three participants.
Belinda used her artistic talents to create a collage of some of the pictures and memories Dorothy had shared. At the end of the Rite Journey, Belinda presented the collage to Dorothy during Sunday morning worship.
Belinda discovered that everyone has a story – a story that deserves to be shared. She learnt that we can all learn something from other people – we just need to take the time to listen to their stories.
“I wanted to get to know someone older than me so I could get someone who’s had a lot of life experience,” Belinda said. “It was really interesting because she was talking about here she lived and all that kind of stuff. Back then things were way different and it’s kind of difficult for me to imagine that kind of stuff.”
Through the process, Belinda learnt not to take the simple things in life for granted.
“When she talked about her wedding and showed me the wedding photos, I realised how simple it was. People these days, when they get married they have these massive things and they go overseas and hers was just a little simple thing in a church with her family and her friends. She was married for 65 years. I think that’s really special.
“Now days we think more about the money and things we can hold in our hands and less about the simple things that we hold in our hearts.”
The project has inspired Belinda, Dorothy and Karen to get to know more people from their community, taking the time to stop, listen and learn from other people and their stories.