Sunday, April 2, 2017

The News from Magruder, March 26 - April 1

It was a Spring Break week on the coast, which may or may not have been on your radar depending on what your line of work is or if you have kids. At Camp Magruder, it meant a break for Outdoor School, who I'm sure enjoyed it after two straight split weeks. Being on the coast, it also meant there were more people in on the weekdays than is normal for this time of the year. When you're out at the grocery or eating dinner at your favorite restaurant and notice it's pretty packed for a Tuesday, you scratch your head for a moment then remember, "Oh, that's right. It's Spring Break."

We opened the week with the honor of hosting a memorial service for Jon Brown, a prominent figure in our community. We had been a regular at Magruder's Easter sunrise services over the years, and his family felt like it would be a fitting place to memorialize him. I did not have the pleasure of meeting Jon before his passing, but it was evident by the numbers who showed up on a Monday afternoon how much his life meant to the Rockaway Beach area. 

The Magruder staff was present to help the family set up and to facilitate parking. I spent most of the time waving vehicles into an organized parking plan. The weather was interesting--one moment it was sunny, the next it drizzled. We rotated through this weather all day, really we rotated through this all week. Once the cars were parked, I snuck into Carrier to see a room packed with a range of ages and backgrounds. People traveled from neighboring states to be here. There were infants and toddlers all the way up to elderly here to pay respects. Jon Brown was a teacher, but it was obvious his influence went well beyond the classroom. The next day, my wife and I were meeting with a local lawyer, and he talked about how he had been at the memorial himself, how next to his parents Jon was one of the biggest influences of his early years. 

I thought about how this place will forever be tied into this story for the people who were touched by Jon Brown's life. How the act of choosing a setting can be sacred and make a place sacred for a huge group of people. Over 300 people joined us on a Monday afternoon in our dining hall that has been on this spot almost as long as it has been called Camp Magruder. I think of how many other stories are tied up in that building, how it has been made sacred over the years for so many people, from young worshipers finding their faith to outdoor school kids discovering a passion for wild things to much more random chance encounters that change someone's life forever. 

Spring Break slowed life down for just a moment at Camp Magruder. Slowing down is crucial to healthy life. We will find ourselves busier and busier as summer approaches and passes. There is much work to be done. We hope that our impact is a lasting one. We hope people are changed a bit when they spend time with us. We hope what they experience furthers the sacredness of this place. It is important to remember, but it is also important to continue to practice to bring a place into something new even as we remember what it has been and what it has done. If that doesn't happen we are doomed to forget it--and we don't want to forget things this holy, this impactful, this important.
Things are becoming new again at Magruder. The flowers are blooming, Green buds are opening up on the bushes. The alders will open their leaves soon and we will be mired in sunshine and greenness. It is Spring Break everyone. We often look at it as a time of rest, of taking a break. But make no mistake there is important work going on even now. the work of appreciating, the work of noticing the beauty surrounding us, the work of remembering those who shaped us, the work of making even ourselves new. The sun is visible more and more each day. Summer is on the way. Let's go out into the open air. Let's hear the ocean. Let's do something wonderful with our moment here. Let's leave this space full of memories that will inspire someone else to call it holy and sacred.

This week, we've had the joy of hosting Brush Prairie Baptist Women's Retreat. They were originally scheduled for the fall weekend when tornadoes hit the coast, so we are happy to finally welcome them back. Keep their time in our prayers. 

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