This past weekend many of us experienced a refreshing rain that arrived after much anticipation. The rain brought with it a sense of coolness, offering welcome relief to the earth, dry and parched after our hotter than usual Pacific Northwest summer.
During the rainy weekend about ten of us who are part of the Program Division met to review summer 2021 and to look ahead to 2022. On the agenda for 2022 were dates for camps, conversation about new events, two centennial celebrations (Wallowa Lake and Suttle Lake for our sites, and for Camp and Retreat Ministries as an organization) and our curriculum for 2022. The curriculum is called “Creation Speaks!”
As we met we talked about our heritage and our earliest memories of camp and camping. Many of us had a story to share about how we had experienced the wonder and awe of God’s creation, which led to curiosity, deeper faith, greater connection to nature, and a sense of knowing that we belong to a community that cares for one another and God’s creation.
As we reflected on “Creation Speaks!” I looked out my window at the rain. I felt that I could hear the sound of the earth exhaling as it received the refreshing, life-giving water. I could see plants that had been drooping, now upright and full of life, and I personally felt relieved that the long dry spell was over, at least for the time being. I was keenly aware that Creation was speaking to my soul, and I felt hopeful that our campers next year will also know the gift of being part of Creation’s conversation.
What was your early experience with camp and Creation? How has it informed your life? How have you shared that experience with others? What do you hope we will help next year’s campers experience when it comes to Creation speaking? Drop me a note to share your responses to these questions.
See you on the adventure ahead,
Rev. Todd Bartlett
Executive Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries
*PHOTO: Wallowa Lake, 2018 (Todd Bartlett)
This week we're pleased to share a reflection on Indigenous Creation Justice from Sarah Augustine, who is a Pueblo (Tewa) descendant, founder and co-chair of the Coalition to Dismantle the Doctrine of Discovery, and Executive Director of a Dispute Resolution Center in central Washington State. She is also the co-founder of Suriname Indigenous Health Fund (SIHF), where she has advocated for vulnerable Indigenous Peoples since 2004. She has written for Sojourners, The Mennonite, Anabaptist Witness, Response Magazine and is currently a columnist for Anabatist World, and co-hosts the Doctrine of Discovery podcast with Sheri Hostetler. She is author of the book, The Land Is Not Empty: Following Jesus in Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery.
Each morning my son and I watch the sunrise. I was taught to do this by elders – to give thanks at the beginning of the day, to acknowledge the gift and miracle of life every morning. My ancestors practiced reverence in this way, and in turn I share this with my son. The spiritual tradition I have been taught explains that God’s nature is revealed in creation. To walk with God is to acknowledge God’s plan revealed in creation.
Thirst quenching rainfall
Answers creation’s prayer
*PHOTO: Leaves after a rainfall at Alton L. Collins Retreat Center (Todd Bartlett).
Some of us are old enough to remember a delightful song by Sister Miriam Theresa Winter, made popular in the 1960's by the Medical Mission Sisters. The fourth stanza is: "I saw raindrops on the river, joy is like the rain, bit by bit the river grows till all at once it overflows, joy is like the rain." That's a wonderful depiction of camping and retreat ministry: many, many, small drops of joy and learning and wonder and love--till all at once it gushes into new growth, new life, new creation! And your donation, no matter how small, joins with all the others to overflow into an abundance of resources to support this joyful ministry. Thank you!