The week started off on Easter Sunday. Magruder has hosted a sunrise service for the local communities for many years. This year we moved it from Carrier dining hall to Sherlock Lodge. Anytime you make a change with something that is a long-standing tradition there are many potential pitfalls. People may end up at the wrong place, because it's so routine to go to the old place. People may miss the old place because there is a special attachment with it. There are routines built into the old place that may not transfer to the new one. It is a scary thing to try something new. Still, Sherlock made much more sense for us this particular year, and so it was moved.
While I was traveling between lodges to get supplies before the service, I encountered two ducks who have been spending a lot of time on Smith Lake the past few weeks. They were in the gravel lot near Carrier, and they quacked around until I got too close for their comfort, and they retreated through the air back to safer waters. I thought about how very soon they would have several little balls of fluff following them around over land and water. I thought about how life is returning to this place in nearly all its forms and how that is such a perfect setting to reflect on Easter.
As the service began, I looked around at this community of people who had woke before dawn to participate in this ritual, how I'm growing to know many of them and share faith with them. I looked over at my wife who also worked early and helped me transport pastries and coffee to Sherlock. I thought about how this feeling could come about anywhere--in Carrier, Sherlock, on the porch outside, on the beach in the rain. The power of that time spent really has more to do with the way we fill the space than the actual space involved. Those spaces that means so much to us, mean that because of how we fill them.
This week we welcomed St. Pius X Catholic school, and they have the special distinction of being the first group to do boating at Magruder this year. To prep for them, I woke our fleet of row boat from their winter hibernation, flipped over on the side of the swim area. These boats are heavy and sturdy, and it takes the correct lifting techniques to avoid dropping one on an important appendage or finishing out the day with major back pain. I turned #2 and #5 over, scooted them into the lake, and attached the oars. It began to drizzle, then rain harder, but this had an incredible calming affect on the lake water itself. I sat in the center and began the familiar motions rocking forward and backwards, taking the boats over to their slips at the boat dock. This seemed almost like something sacred, something holy.
Boating didn't happen that day. The moment the rain stopped, wind began to rush in making the water way too choppy for a bunch of middle schoolers with minimal boating experience to navigate the lake. The next day we tried it again, and this time we were successful. It continued to rain, which again had a calming effect on the lake. I was soaked by the end of the morning. My toes and fingers felt icy. But, I had done some true camp work. The work of getting outside and having an adventure, even if the conditions weren't perfect. The work of exposing people to something new, something maybe out of their comfort zone. The work of playing in a way that soothes and heals. Even if the weather was going to continue to toy with us, even if the conditions are not the way we idealize them in our minds when we imagine a boating period, the most important thing was the way we filled the space on that particular day.
This weekend we welcome Cornerstone Church High School Retreat and First Unitarian Church of Portland Men's Retreat. We pray that they are able to fill the space with something life-changing regardless of what the Spring weather decides to give us.