Sunday, July 10, 2016

The News from Magruder 7/3-9

This week we saw our share of sunshine, clouds, and the occasional rain. We served a variety of retreat groups, so our week was segmented by one group leaving and another showing up. In work like this there is a revolving door of opportunities. Much like the weather, we wake up one day with one backdrop, and the next day something slightly different colors our work. We learn to find beauty and passion for all of it on our best weeks, understanding the blessing it is just to get to walk in a world like this.

When the week began, we were in the midst of our 4th of July family camp, our largest family camp of the year. There are many familiar faces at this camp. Parents and grandparents who have come for years, children who have grown up coming to this camp, young children who are just stepping into the tradition. It is such a pleasure to join a community like this, especially during moments like the variety show. We were treated to kids singing songs, corny jokes, dance routines, and this beautiful air of support, encouragement, and laughter. There are moments you step back from experiences like this and catch yourself admiring the gifts on display or the courage to get up in front of people and share something, and you feel such a momentary safety and comfort with a group of people you may have just met days ago.

On the evening of the 4th, everyone was invited out to the beach to see the chaotic insanity that is the Oregon Coast on Independence Day. People hunker down in the sand late into the night, building big bonfires and setting off fireworks to compliment the huge how that the city of Rockaway Beach puts on. It was chilly and cloudy that night, though the clouds could have been the haze of smoke from all the beach fires and fireworks. Some of us stood together in the cold night air, turning back and forth looking north for a spell, then south, seeing explosions in the sky in both directions. Later we settled down with some of our family campers at a fire making s'mores, blasts still going off all around. What a nostalgic feeling to exit the beach on the way to your bed with colorful blasts to your left and right.

At the end of a week like this with several groups, 4th of July fireworks seem in some ways like a few minutes ago and in other ways forever ago. Our family campers left out, our staff cleaned up the vacated cabins, and children's retreat from Faith Center, a church out of Vancouver and Kelso. We learned a bit about their ministry and their passion for serving communities hit hard by addiction and incarceration. During those three days we also had the Appointive Cabinet for the Oregon-Idaho conference of our own Methodist Church spend a night with us. Visitors abound here at our camp, and we hope that we have made all of them feel welcome.

One day this week, while I was talking to Jay in his office, Dora and Ryan rushed in, looking for an object to help them remove something from the kitchen. Evidently, a bat had snuck in through the door of the loading dock, and of course, no one wants a bat in the kitchen. Dora stayed back and expressed her discomfort with bats, teaching Jay and I the Spanish word for bat (murciƩlago). Ryan managed to get the bat out with encouragement from a plastic lid. No need to worry if you're joining us soon to eat. Ryan disposed of the lid.

There are so many guests who have come through our doors. When I look back even over the year 2016 and think about the diversity of people, disciplines, and missions, I am proud of all the ways this place seeks to help people along on the journeys they set out on. I think about how this is a sanctuary, an oasis, an escape for so many. I think about what is shared under the roofs, between these walls, under this sky. Think of all that has been passed, all that has been seen in more than 70 years of this camp.

At the end of the 4th of July family camp, I shared in communion of grape juice and hotdog buns with some of our guests. As we finished, little Louisa, who I remember from last year's group, ran up to me and wrapped around my waist the way only a 3 1/2 foot child can. I asked myself what I had done to receive such affection from someone I'd spent so little time with. How can connections with this depth arise in such a short amount of time spent together. I thought about how I hope Louisa, her parents, her siblings continue this tradition, continue to visit us each year. I hope to see her grow and how this thing we build in this special place with shape us both.

On Friday, we welcomed a Conference for Women in Graduate Sciences and a Korean Catholic youth group. On Saturday, counselors and deans for our second program camp joined us, and campers will come in the next day. Camp Magruder is continually becoming a place people seek to stop and rest. We pray that what they find here will be something they'll want to hold and take with them and that at least some of these guests will return, so we can see all the ways they've grown (though we could do without the bat coming back to the kitchen).

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