This week opened on Sunday with our Conference Confirmation Retreat finishing up. We had over 70 campers and nearly 40 adults here for the event. The group spent long stretches of time in session learning more about what it means to be a United Methodist, which, no matter how dynamic a presentation is put forth, will tire out the most dedicated of students. I was impressed by how, for the most part, our campers were involved in everything throughout the weekend. They paid attention in sessions and got involved in worship, and, on top of that, they were always excited and energetic. After they left, I took some time to rest, canoed out to fossil point, took a hike, and saw a red fox trotting up the hill to get away from me. In the evening we hosted the Camden 1st Methodist Youth group’s Superbowl party at the Alford Rec Center. I feel like this building is made to host Superbowl parties. While, the Colts fans in the group were disappointed, the food was good, and the Apples to Apples was quite amusing.
That night, during the Superbowl halftime show (most of the youth didn’t seem to care too much about The Who), a group of us went outside to play some full court basketball. There were 3 youth who were filling a little full of themselves, and challenged the rest of us to a game (about 5 or 6 of us). It’s interesting to watch how sports strategies change as you get older. When I was young, I had so much confidence in my body, my speed, my strength, that I primarily relied on that. All I needed to do, in my mind, was to run faster, push harder, give it just a little more than the other guy, and I would be successful. This was the strategy, I think, of the 3 who challenged us. I found many times throughout my youth, that my strategy of pure athleticism often lost out to the older, less athletic competitors who just outsmarted me. Now that I can’t always rely on my back or knees like I used to, I’ve had to begin leaning on my wits more. And, I wonder why I didn’t do this all along. I immediately informed my team that each time we got a rebound, someone should sprint down court ahead of everyone for the easy lay-up. Since our competitors only had 3, we would outnumber them every time, and they would be tired very soon. Even though we probably did not compare as far as athleticism and skill went, we beat them very handily.
On one particular play, someone threw a pass that Sam tried to intercept. He was running at full speed, with only the ball in his sights. I know this because he completely overlooked the parked SUV that he was quickly approaching. He slammed into the vehicle at full speed. There was a thunk noise, and Sam went to the ground with the speed of a bird that flew into a clean window. There were no dents on the vehicle, and, thankfully, he was alright, but I’m sure he was sore the next day. There’s something to be said for that kind of all-out intensity, but, there’s also something to be said for a calculated, thought-out plan (for instance looking up every now and again when you’re running at full speed). But these are things for us to learn as we change and life changes. If we figured it all out while our bodies were still in their prime, we’d be a little too powerful for our own good.
I believe we are truly experiencing a winter this year in Benton County. So often, by now, we would have had several days reaching the 50s or even 60s in between these cold snaps, but winter seems to have a firm grasp on us. Snow has been on the ground all week, and they are calling for more on Sunday. It seems that snow is wonderful to us while it’s still a novelty, but after the novelty wears off, snow losses a good bit of it’s popularity. We love for it to interrupt a few days, so that we can take a break, do some sledding, build some type of snow edifice. Interruptions are fine so long as they don’t last too long. We seem to want only momentary lapses from the norm, but when they last too long, we grow weary quickly. Here in West Tennessee, we so often complain about how little snow we get. But, ask someone from North Dakota how they feel about snow. I bet they look at it less nostalgically. Because, snow changes things for us. We can’t drive the same. We can’t dress the same. We can’t even walk the same. We can deal with that for a day, but a week? I got things to do, you know.
I took Bill Walker (our new development officer) out to the back part of our property to show him the boundaries and a place I want to develop a scenic overlook area. When we got to the overlook, the gray skies opened up and began dropping snow all around. We did not expect it to stick this time, but before we made it back to camp, there was a lining of snow on the ground. It definitely made the visibility at the overlook below it’s best, but the snow is a scenery itself. We tromped around through the partly frozen, partly muddy ground, and Bill got to see the Wilderness Camp for the first time. He got to see the place where his daughter had had some formative experiences years before. We walked the ridge that had recently been lumbered and talked about changes. The changes in this place since the trees had been cleared. The changes that we hope will come to this place. All this as the snow fell around us and the sun went lower and lower onto the horizon behind a curtain of clouds.
This weekend, we do not have any groups in. We have already begun setting up the many tables it will take to host the Scrapbooking Retreat next weekend. As we prepare for this next round of snow heading our way, here’s to love and change and love that lasts through those changes in our lives. Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you, and whether you are single, involved, in something “complicated,” or completely committed to someone forever, know that there is someone out there that loves you very much. Have a good weekend everyone.