We’ve had nice days for walks this week. The Local Pastors’ Licensing School has been at camp all week long, and groups tend to draw you out of doors more than usual. These classes are to help train pastors who have entered the ministry and haven’t been through seminary. After graduation from this program, pastors will be sanctioned by the United Methodist Church to baptize bless the communion elements and lots of other things I’m failing to mention. They have had sessions from 9-5 each day, sometimes longer, with topics ranging from “conflict resolution,” to “the end of time.” After absorbing subject matter like that for extended periods of time, you need a walk.
On the walks I make from the Administration Office to our Conference Center, I get a nice view of songbirds, hopping around, preparing nests and gathering food. You hear songs from robins, mockingbirds, cardinals, wood peckers, and many more that I haven’t learned to pick out yet. There is still a smell of honey suckle and a mystery bush that smells very much like it. I have never noticed it in years past, but this year there is a bush/tree that puts out tiny white flowers, and they went nuts for this Spring. When they first bloomed, there was almost as much white on as green on these bush/trees. They are scattered all over camp: above the basketball court opposite the Alford Rec Center, lining the gravel road leading to home in the woods, and down by hole 1 on the disc golf course just beyond the labyrinth. As a result of this wide-spread mystery plant, there is a sweet smell all through the air. The window of my office is open as I’m typing, and that smell is making the afternoon a very pleasant one.
When you call this place home, whether it’s for 3 days or 11 years, you have these little Saint Francis moments, walking through the outdoors. Just making your way up the hill can put you in a better mood, feeling the warm breeze, seeing the waves on the lake from the hilltop, watching the birds criss-cross your path. Days like these make you think that those 15th century monks didn’t have it so bad. Maybe I should get a brown robe, teach the bluebirds to land on my finger, and spend full time hours gardening and telling people how great God is. On my mid-day break, I went to the woods and found a small muscadine (wild grape) vine that had just sprouted. I dug it up with a little gardener’s shovel and carried it and its soil to the prayer labyrinth. When I got there, I walked the labyrinth, repeating to myself what I remembered of the Prayer of Saint Francis (“Lord make me an instrument of your peace…”). When I reached the center, I dug a hole and planted it next to the arbor that stands in the center of the labyrinth. If the plant takes, it should be to the top of the 8 foot arbor by the end of the summer. Maybe someday people will shade themselves under its branches or pluck the oaky tasting grapes upon finishing a prayerful walk.
But, the week hasn’t been completely pleasant. The body count of armadillos has continued to rise around the office and the Lawson’s front yard. Armadillo deaths are a norm hear at camp, and several carcasses have shown up over the past few weeks, but this week has been one of the ages. In one day (I believe, the armadillos are referring to it as “Bloody Tuesday”), Jim disposed of 5 different dead armadillos. It is truly a bad time to be an armadillo if you live in Eva. During a conversation about this string of armadillo fatalities, Vickie made what may be the most clever comment in the office this year by suggesting that it was, “Arma-gedon.”
The end has come, as well, for the Local Pastors and this portion of their learning. After a marathon of class and discussion, they took just a little more time to share around the Lord’s Table, breaking bread and drinking juice. This is a meal that they will serve many people for many years to come. The pastors here have answered their call in the middle of life, after careers in many different fields. I guess there came a point when they felt the urge to take a walk that led them away from things as they had been before. When you look out those windows and get drawn out the door for a short, sometimes it takes you farther than you meant to go. But, it’s good for us to get out. On days like these, we don’t often return regretting our decision to go out there.
This weekend we have Hopewell Baptist Church Women, EWE (Equipping with Encouragement), and Kiwanis Club. Pray with us that they find some of God’s peace in their time here.
Troy is taking his get-out-of-town-before-summer-camp trip, so for next week’s This Week at Lakeshore, we will revisit an entry from year’s past. We’ll be back with new material on May 18.