Allergy season is upon us at Lakeshore, and it’s hard to go outside without returning sniffling and rubbing your eyes. And, it’s a shame that that’s the case, because we are getting a taste of cooler temperatures–the type that lure you out in the late afternoon and you get distracted by something outside. Maybe it’s the squirrel gathering the acorns that have begun to fall all around. Maybe it’s the new level of the river, now that TVA has begun dropping it. If you go out there (especially if you have a lot of office work you really need to complete), you may find yourself outside longer than you originally planned. And then, when you come back in you reel off about 7 straight sneezes and you can’t see through your blurry eyes enough to know who’s standing in front of you.
Tim Kovar, a bit of treeclimbing celebrity, came to visit the camp early this week to look for ways to spread this activity more thoroughly into the Southeast. He has been all over the world: the Amazon, India, Japan and on and on, teaching people how to climb trees with ropes and harnesses, and spreading a love for the activity. When I mention to people that we do Treeclimbing at Lakeshore, people generally assume that we are climbing trees the way you did on the old cedar at granddaddy’s farm 50 years ago. But, this way has a few more safety features, and it allows you to get into the canopy of a tree whose lowest climbable branch is 30 feet above your head. Tim came out to check out our camp and to talk to me about ways we could train more people and subsequently get more people into the trees. Towards the end of his time with us, Tim and I got to climb about 50 feet into a White Oak that stretches out over Cabin 2. From the top of this tree, we looked down on the roofs of all the cabins. I looked down onto a bald eagle that was flying over the camp’s soccer field. We saw parts of this tree that had, up to this point, only been viewed by squirrels and birds. It can make you a little nervous when you get up there and actually think about what you are doing. But then, you sit on those strong branches, relax, and a peace comes over you as if you are a bird that has just escaped a cat on the ground. You’ve flown up 50 feet in a matter of seconds, and now you sit at your perch, looking out on this world below you, feeling a slight breeze in the air gently rocking you and the branch you cling to.
Yes, there’s been a breeze in the air for the past 3 or 4 days. You can feel that a change is beginning to blow in. The temperature is still hovering in the 80s and even gets to low 90s, but you can feel that something will be different soon. There are leaves on the ground more and more, and it’s not just the poplars who started dropping them weeks ago. The light seems different. I walked past an old Pine down by the tabernacle that sits next to a Bald Cypress. The Bald Cypress is a beautiful blend of green, gold, and brown right now. The Pine has dropped its old needles, and you can smell it for just a moment as you walk down the gravel road.
This weekend, we had a group from Summertown High School doing High Ropes with us. It is the High School that Vickie graduated from. As coincidence would have it, Vickie was the one who spoke on the phone with this group initially. She talked about how strange life can be sometimes. How your life can end up reconnecting in ways you could not have imagined. How you could one day be the host for the girl’s basketball team who you cheered for, decked out with pom-poms and a mini-skirt, back when major concerns were who “liked” who, what you should wear Friday night, and who this person is you were becoming. And now, while you worry about your children who are now having grandchildren and still who this person is you’re becoming, you welcome in those girls from high school–your high school–to be at this place you’ve found yourself. The teacher from the school told Vickie he had gone and found her senior picture in the hallway of the school. He informed her that that was when the pictures were still in black and white.
Yes, change is here again, some of it is change we know and expect. Some of it is change we could not imagine. We feel it on our face as we walk out the door. We smell it in our noses. We see it on the faces of generations that just keep on expanding, and will continue, no matter how much we hope to slow it. It these times we have a window. A short amount of time to notice it and appreciate it, and then it will be on to the next change. For this moment that we are lucky enough to look up and see it, let us climb up to the tallest tree we can find and take a few deep breaths and let it be a part of us as we are a part of it.
Be in prayer for all our guests this weekend: Alpha Sigma Phi of Murray State, Collinwood High School Girls Basketball, Jackson First UMC Confirmation, Covenant UMC Senior High, and the Conference Communications Action Team. And, a special prayer lifted up for the family of Bill Fisher. Bill was Executive Director at Lakeshore for many years. He is the first Director that I remember when I came up as a camper. His death was sudden, and I know he will be missed.