Friday, May 20, 2016

The News from Magruder 5/15-21

We caught a little bit of a chill on the coast this week. There wasn't quite as much sunshine as we've
been treated to lately, so we spent more time in the 50s, rarely experiencing anything that felt like the 60s. It's been breezy this week, especially out on the beach. Still, it is so beautiful outside, you don't mind forgiving the coolness. A medium jacket is certainly not too much to ask to experience what we have outside in the middle of May.

I you are a dutiful United Methodist, you know that General Conference is happening right now, and this time around it's happening in our back yard. For those who don't eat, sleep, and breathe Methodism, General Conference is the gathering of UM leaders from all over the world to access the direction of the church, church stances, etc. This gathering happens every 4 years, and Portland was chosen as the host city for 2016. The church is grappling with some big, impactful decisions, the biggest being the debate about LGBT inclusion. In the camp office, we kept up with the proceedings from a distance that seemed a bit farther removed than it actually was physically.

Reality on a large, legislative scale is so much different than it is locally, on the ground. The big decisions on a General Conference floor seem to carry this world heavy weight, a weight that feels like it will permanently alter the world, and maybe it will. I big part of the changes have been happening more locally all over the place for a while. I appreciate the part we get to play in the changes that will be carried up the ladder to the rest of the world. I made my first gay friend while working at camp. We were friends long before I knew he was my first gay friend. By the time I found out, I was interested, intrigued, but it hardly seemed consequential to our friendship. Too much history built at camp together. Too much trust already established.

There was no way this experience wouldn't influence my perspective. I don't know what the Methodist Church will do with this going forward, but I believe the seeds for whatever that is have already been planted in places like we have here at camp. They are sprouting, growing, adding layers, determining a way to subsist and sustain, a way to reach balance in the ecosystem.

On Tuesday, a choir from Africa University (a UM school in Africa) with volunteers from Newberg UMC visited Magruder. College students are their mentors were here from such a wide range of nations on the continent across the Atlantic: Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Angola, Zambia, Ghana. I sat on a
piece of driftwood with a music professor watching the students play chicken with the ocean tide, kick the soccer ball, and take selfies next to the Pacific Ocean (I guess that's a universal thing for all college students). We talked about what it is like to live in the place we live. We talked about how we each got where we're at now. We each offered the other a very brief tour guide's intro to the place we live.

I think back to so many times in my life when my perspective or my opinion has been shaped and reshaped just by being in the same space with someone I had not been with previously. I think about how talking about normal, mundane things with someone, how breaking bread with someone, how sitting and sharing an appreciation for something beautiful with someone can create an understanding that decades of logic and rhetoric couldn't reproduce. We are thinkers and feelers both, all of us. Thoughts can change feelings, feelings can change thoughts. Both together can mold our actions. I see these transformations so much at camp--it is this beautiful crossroads of many people, coming from many places, carrying many different things we might exchange.

Angie and I were walking from the office to Carrier Dining Hall for lunch, and it began to rain about the time we stepped out the door. So much can happen in a short amount of time on a simple stroll from point A to point B. We intercepted a parent coming to pick up a student. We talked to several outdoor school staffers as they passed on foot or bike. The rain consistently got heavier and heavier as our journey went on. Still, it wasn't heavy enough that we felt the need to change pace. It was a rain we could stomach.

I went out to the beach as the sun sat on Tuesday. The wind had blown dunes into the sand. All the footprints and movement had been reshaped into something new. We couldn't see the paths we had created with our feet just a few hours earlier. The Earth is constantly bringing about change, covering
over some things, revealing something else long hidden. In our lives we are turning over in the same way. One day we walk out and we see the story of so much before us. On other days, we encounter something new that the wind is bringing in.

Back in the office, Steve, Angie, and I met to talk about reporting ACA standards, and sitting there I scratched an itch and found a small pile of sand in my ear that had piled up from the wind while I sat on driftwood watching the Africa University students play on the beach. Things get planted sometimes and we don't even realize. We carry pieces of all we encounter. It shapes us, it becomes part of us.

This weekend we host the Portland Gay Men's Choir. Join our prayers that their experience offers them something they will want to carry back.

No comments:

Post a Comment