Disclaimer: I had every intent to write this blog post all about the hills of West Virginia and a small town steeped in Disciples history. So much so that I took a plethora of pictures (some of which I am still sharing with you here) of Bethany, West Virginia in hopes to show you a small sampling of all this town has to offer. However, something else was brought to my attention that I feel is much more insightful, a much better display of the wonderful week I had with the people of the West Virginia CYF Conference.
A minister and fellow counselor showed me a Facebook post from one of our conferees about an hour before our conference was over. The conferee expressed how much he enjoyed camp and the post closed with a simple and profound reasoning as to why camp is so great – “there is no hate here.” It seems obvious that at a church camp there would be an absence of hate, but I had never seen someone list it as the reason they love church camp. Some people will tell you they love the songs and others love the food, the swimming, the counselors, the friendship bracelets, or the community built. But never before I heard an affinity for the absence of hate. The constant struggle of editing yourself and your beliefs while constantly maintaining a poker face in order to avoid the daily hatred that is everywhere is dismissed for one week of every year. There is no hate here.
My fellow counselors and I discussed the simplicity and profundity of the post. We discussed how it is so much easier to be nice to those around you, particularly when they are nice in return. We discussed how this community without hate was cultivated. We discussed how to take this absence of hatred with us as we left camp and went back to the other 51 weeks of the year. We discussed the kindom (not a typo) of God. There is no hate there.
While I enjoy word play, puns, and John Denver as much as the next guy and it is rather convenient that this happened in West Virginia, ‘Almost Heaven’ is not Country Roads. ‘Almost Heaven’ is the absence of pressure. ‘Almost Heaven’ is a place of welcome. ‘Almost Heaven’ is a radical peace. ‘Almost Heaven’ is an extremely successful CYF conference, for there is no hate there.