Spring is coming to visit more often these days. Spring is looking for a place in the area to settle down. This seems like a nice spot. Spring can visualize staying here for a few months if all goes right. We had some nice mild days this week at the camp. We also had the windy days and the rain that are so typical of spring. The rain during these months comes in such volume that your dry creek beds seem as if they might run wide into the summer. With the hills we have here in Benton County, there is water run-off from miles away that builds and builds until it gets to the ditch next to your house and overwhelms your culvert.
I walked through the woods several times, one of the days we had pretty steady rain. Each time, I would look out the window and see that the rain had slowed down or stopped. It seemed a perfect time to get out and go where I needed to go. Then, when I got far enough out that it wasn’t practical to turn around, the rain would pick back up and I would get pretty soaked. I think the enjoyment of walking in the rain is an acquired taste that takes a little conditioning. If it has been awhile, it can be a pretty miserable experience. You definitely have to have the right attitude to take these rain walks and not enter the next building a little grouchier.
I remember when I was in college, I made a decision not to buy an umbrella. When it rained, I would just have to walk to class in the rain. Going to school at UT Knoxville meant that I had some pretty decent walks to make between certain classes, so there were days that I would definitely get completely wet. I had resigned myself to deal with the elements whatever happened. If it rained it rained on me. If it snowed it snowed on me. If it tornadoed it tornadoed on me. I remember days spent walking at a normal, casual pace through downpours and feeling so alive. I had to talk myself into denying those feelings about cold, wet clothes and backpack and papers getting soaked. But, once I was at peace with those instincts, it was a beautiful world to walk through. The sounds of the water hitting everything around. The air full of moisture.
On my walk on the road next the Tabernacle and Hope Lodge, I witnessed water flowing in streams on either side of the road. I could hear the water as if it were a permanent creek. I saw the water drop down the hills in mini-waterfalls. I could hear the rain gently falling through the trees and landing on the leaf litter of the wood floor. It’s a very different sound and feeling than during the walks through woods on dry days. These experiences where frustration with wet clothes pass like water through the ditches.
This week, the office staff had an office organizing day. We’ve really looked hard at the budget cuts we’ve had to take on and try to be creative about saving money. One thing we came up with was to go through everything we have in the office and take inventory to avoid buying something we already have. So, for two days, members of the staff (mostly Vickie and Martha) rearranged, sorted, threw away, and made note of everything we have. There were some pretty crazy things uncovered during this project. There are old slide machines with slides from the 70s and 80s, which we knew about. I got to sort rubber bands, testing every rubber band to see if it’s a crusty, crisp, or easily snapable throw-away or something capable of banding something with something else.
This weekend, we have the 30 Hour Famine at Lakeshore, where 250 youth and leaders will go over a full day without food. The event will raise awareness for all different types of hunger all over the world. We filled up our beds and had to turn down some youth groups that wanted to register, which, we think, says very good things about the youth in our conference. I got together with the other leadership members on Friday to eat our final meals at a buffet in Camden. We gave thanks for the food, and then went out to pile up our plates. There were vegetables, cornbread, fried chicken, some sort of meat/mushroom concoction, fruit, and ice cream with some kind of chocolate cobbler on the plates that ended up in front of me. I was hungry in a more intense way throughout this retreat than I’m used to (I’ve done the famine many times). At the end, when Reverend Dean Emerson helped us break the fast with communion, I was very humbled, almost teary eyed, to get food in my body again. It was a difficult thing on my body this time, but it reminded me, as usual, how fragile I am, and what a miracle it is to have food every day.
Sometimes we need to be reminded how special some of these everyday things are, that we can sometimes view as hassles. How often do we stress over where to eat, what to eat, who to eat with? How often do we think too much about these little side arguments that don’t get at the heart of what food really is for us. Ah, but go without for a while. Take some time to fast. And, then when the time comes again to feast, don’t just give into the hunger pains and gorge and go on. Take some time to reflect. Walk out into the middle of love and rain where every thing soaks you. Don’t worry that it gets all over you. It is giving you life. Love it. Cherish it. Thank your God for it with all of yourself.