“I’m an old hippy…” said Rev. Jamie Brame as I gathered with the camp staff before campers arrived. While the week moved along, it became clear that a unique, earthly spirit was pouring out of him and into the fabric of camp life. Nestled in the mountains of North Carolina, Christmount has a natural beauty that revealed God’s artistry to me in abundance. Quite suitable for an old hippy, to be honest. I am so happy my travels this summer brought me to those mountains and to those people who so quickly became more than camp staff to me. Only a weeks time allowed new friendships to form and created new spaces in my heart for some truly wonderful people.
The mountains themselves seemed to create a barrier between me and the outside world – that big place with justice and injustice, peace and war, unity and division. That world seemed like a distant rumble – a storm across an ancient sea. Camp life became a quieter, smaller world. Perhaps it was the smaller size of the camp or the safety of the Appalachian Mountains. While the mountains certainly stood as great stone protectors full of forested mystery, there was also this glowing spirit of an ‘old hippy’ about the place. Yes, that ingredient seemed quite essential.
Conversations went deep. LGBTQIA and white privilege are intimidating topics at church camps, yet the campers did not run away from them. Instead, they engaged in our small and large groups in ways that lifted my heart. As I write this, I think about some up-and-coming little activists who already have the passions to fuel a lifetime and I feel honored to have been one small part of their journey to helping realize a more unified and loving world.
Still, I cannot only blog about these issues of social justice. It seems almost rude if I did not mention that Christmount truly rejuvenated me. That camp nestled between those friendly mountains helped me hear a new voice. In the rippling stream during morning watch with my handmade prayer beads, I heard a new voice of God. God Talk brought to the surface deep spiritual questions and with them, deep answers. These young people in high school already had powerful spiritual and theological understandings, and in this I heard a new voice of God. Yes, Christmount, you truly brought some great things to my soul.
So, readers… what is the moral of this blog? Perhaps it is simply this – LISTEN. Yes, L-I-S-T-E-N. The theme of this camp was building connections and it occurred to me this truly relates to issues of social justice. The answers are so rarely absolute and are only found in true relationship. As we each become prophetic voices for whatever our passion ignites in us, if we only speak then we speak with ignorance. Speaking as a prophet has no purpose if we have not also listened as one.
At Christmount, I found new ways to listen to God through people and a bubbling mountain stream. I heard young voices bringing ancient wisdom. I heard ‘old hippies’ with youthful perspective. For one very fast week, I heard a story that might just change a lifetime. So I’ll end with this…have you listened lately? Truly listened? God is still speaking… are you listening?