The slow time has begun at camp. Much of the permanent staff is on vacation now. Retreat groups aren’t too interested in coming up for the weekend during the hectic holiday season. Too many parties and too much shopping. College kids are home after exams, and, really, it’s getting cold outside. The idea of a retreat would just add stress to a time that doesn’t need much more. So, December becomes retreat season for the Lakeshore Staff.
Justin has cleared the furniture from the floors in the Conference Center to wax the floors. There is a smell of vinegar and industrial strength cleaner as you walk through the building. It looks so clean, you feel that you are out of place. This building is never this clean. The floor never shines. It does in December.
Rain came in droves at the beginning of the week. It seemed more like it was March or April than December. The dock is underwater now, the river has risen so high. I went for a run after the rain calmed down, and I heard the creek rushing long before I could see it. It was like a mountain stream, very powerful, bubbling and pouring over the land. I was very tempted to forget about my run, roll up my pants and see what it felt like. The creek water is very cold, even in the heat of July, but it’s not as terrible as you might think during the milder cold days. I certainly would not get in if it was in the 30s outside, but I don’t mind getting crazy every now and then and taking a swim when it’s in the 50s.
I remember two years ago, when the floods came that spring. I finished a retreat and wanted to see the water and experience it. I took a video camera, set it up on the bridge over the creek, and got in, taping the fun I was having. The water was so powerful, so loud. I had never felt our creek like that. It was a struggle to walk upstream. I let myself sit in the water, and the current carried me down, as if I was in a river. If you catch it at the right time, anything can have great power. That trickling water that hardly reaches your calf muscle most days, on its strongest days, picks up logs and moves rocks. It can carry you too.
As I type this, it is 4:23, and the sun has already retreated behind the ridges that surround the camp. The sky has a light orange tinge to it, and it will be dark very soon. The moon has been full this week, and you need very little light to walk outside because of it. All the leaves that are to fall this year have fallen. It is cold outside, and, on some nights, you can go outside and feel like you are completely alone. You walk through those woods that you know so well by daylight, when you can hear songbirds and squirrels. On this night, though, there is almost no sound. The moonlight turns it into a completely different place. You walk out into it, and it feels almost as if this night is completely yours, made just for you to see and feel. Love it as if it is. The truth is that it belongs to all of us. But, you are the only one out there right now, so you better give it all the love you can.
We hope you find some peace during this season. Don’t worry. Christ is coming.