We are drawing near the end of a strange set of weeks here at camp, as many of you are. Though you may go back to work in this week between Christmas and New Years, there is a feeling that all has slowed down. Some have not gone back to their jobs. It is harder to get in touch with people. It is as if we are still on a holiday, only we are in the office. I’m sure the people in retail and food service feel quite the opposite right now, though. Still, were at Lakeshore, the sounds you here come from the birds, the wind, and the sounds in your head. I don’t mean the maybe-you-should-see-a-specialist kind of sounds in your head. I’m talking about memories. You walk into the rooms of the camp, to the special places of the camp, and you hear the sounds you remember from the past. The clanks of chairs and hundreds of conversations in the cafeteria. You can hear the music in our worship areas. You can hear the fire crackle even where there isn’t. Then you snap back to attention and realize there is little more than silence today.
As I write this, it is the last day of 2010. I’m sure many of you are doing what I do at the end of the year–look back on the year past, evaluate, celebrate, mourn, and look ahead. As I walked through the woods on this unseasonably warm day, I thought about how this day is one we invented. It is the last day of a year we created. But, I still feel like it is the time for me to look back and evaluate.
What will stay with me from this day. Will it be the date or the 65 degree temperatures? Will it be a group of friends gathered around a television watching a mechanical ball drop or those times spent contemplating what has happened the last 364 days? Or will they all melt into each other to the point that I won’t really tell one from the other?
I remember a time this year, during a backpacking camp that a group of us were out getting water. We had walked a long way to get the water, and we were very thirsty. It had made us moody and quiet, except for a few. It was hot and dry. We finally made it to a creek, and we filtered water to drink. It was such a relief, and we immediately had more life. Fairly soon, the weather changed. We felt the wind pick up and the skies darkened. Deep in the woods, miles from any other people a storm thundered in, shook the trees, and dropped rain all over us. Our reactions varied from person to person, from anxiety to frustration to all out joy. There we stood with no choice but to be rained on. So, we did. We gathered the water for us and the rest of our crew. Our clothes were wet and much of our gear was.
Soon the dark clouds cleared, and we watched them cross the river over to Middle Tennessee. We gathered our things together, packed up our full water bottles, and got back on the trail to hike back to our campsite. We did not talk very much about what had just happened. But, it stays with me. I remembered how it felt to be out in the wind and rain, to see the trees bending. To be surrounded by water after seeking it for so long with so much of myself. These things have not left me, and I hope they have not left the ones I shared it with.
May 2011 give you plenty of times that will stay with you. Let’s hope this is a year we grow to know God a little better.