Sunday, July 11, 2010

Week 33: Canoeing the Fawn River

Saturday morning.
Down by the river.
Descend the bank.
Drag the canoe.
Don't slip
and fall in the mud.
Step in
the center of the canoe.







The grasses above
eye level

The river
out of sight
and into new

vistas. The bright
green of willows
breathes under
the call of blackbird,
the swoop of swallow,
sand hill cranes
standing like statues,
fat black snake
coiled in a snag,
the flight of the broad
winged blue heron.
of the bald eagle.

Other canoes
come and go
rounding the bends
in pilgrimage:
twenty seven souls.

Splashing. Racing. Pirating. Sweating. Sweet. Swim. Water

and ripples around
the paddle and under
the bow. Friends
discover together-
ness on the river
hidden away
from roads

in God's grandeaur.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Week 32: Camp as Community

On they list 25 camps within 50 miles of my home.

In this beautiful wooded and lake filled area of Michiana, that means that 25 little vibrant rural communities are created at these camps, all around me, week after week. Camps like Friedenswald and Amigo provide employment for many young people, summer romances, Christian or athletic or artistic or health related formation for counselors and campers.

This summer three young adults from our congregation have worked as counselors and three additional campers have attended. The program director of Amigo Centre, Jason Lichti, and his family of four live at camp. That means that a quarter of my congregation are part of campers communities at Amigo this summer.

I visited Amigo last week and had “pirate lunch” with Rose and Jesse (pictured), Emily and Margaret. I got to join in the Super Man grace:
“Thank you God, for giving us food!”
(raise right hand in fist and sing to Super Man theme, etc.)
We ate fish sticks the shape of fish, friend shrimp and fries with lots of catsup, veggie soup, salad (well, some of us did) and blue jello and coconut inside for dessert.

Table talk moved with lightning speed from favorite camp activities (swimming, free time, arts and crafts, singing) to favorite sports teams, to...
...why Jesus wouldn’t be happy when we say,
“I don’t like the baseball player Ordonez because he is Spanish.”

Before the counselors, Emily and Ryan, scraped and stacked all the plates, and each camper picked what to carry to the kitchen, Jesse informed me that I HAD to drink two full glasses of water. “We ALL do,” he said. He was being sure to acculturate me!

At the end of the meal all those who were on “mail call” at lunch, having received a loyal letter from some parent and gramma, had to join in a circle and sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” (oh yes, with the actions) before they could get their precious posted items.

I had forgotten how fun this is!

The rituals of camp, passed on from generation to generation, resonate with rituals in many cultures. In the “wild” we are more vulnerable. We have to work together. We are home sick, at least a bit. And we can created community, with all its little picky annoyances and all its delightful discoveries – for one week. What a great experiment in living!

Donald and I took a group of elementary school kids tenting when we were young adults. In the middle of the night, the apple orchard in the valley where we were was rocked by a fierce lightning and thunder storm. The sides of the tents when WOOMPA, WOOMPA WOOMPA as the pounding wind and waffled them. We called from the girls tent to the boys tent:
“What should we do? Should we run for the farm house?”

In the end we prayed the storm out. It was an act of faith and solidarity. Yes, it was on a small, but a very real scale. The memory is vibrant within me to this day.