This year I had the amazing opportunity to return to my home camp, Loch Leven, as a peace intern. For as long as I can remember, Loch Leven has used the slogan, “A place to renew your spirit,” but I never expected how true it would be for me that week.
One of the nights we were given the opportunity to spend the night outside and go stargazing and I jumped at the opportunity. Where I have grown up there is a lot of city glow, and it is a rare opportunity for me to truly see the stars. That night was some of the most beautiful stargazing I had ever experienced. However, what really overwhelmed me was the vastness of everything. The feeling of incredibly smallness at seeing those stars and realizing that the Earth is just one tiny dot in all of space.
This feeling of smallness is something I have always been fascinated by, but really struggled with in terms of religion. After all, how could an all-powerful God really know or care about me, one small person in all of creation? I am just one person amidst all of humanity, on one earth, throughout space. Thinking about it this way has always scared me a little bit. One of my keynoters growing up had spoken on the phrase, “To be known is to be loved, and to be loved is to be known.” How could God really know me, and thus love me, when I am just one small person? This is something that I had spent years thinking about.
This year, our keynoter at Loch Leven brought everything back home to me for this question. She spoke on that “each of us is a beloved child of God, and beautiful to behold.” Of course, I had heard things like this before, but this time it really clicked. God created each and every one of us. He truly knows and deeply cares about us. He knows our hopes, our fears, and our dreams. Opening myself up to this mindset more fully has allowed me to be more present in my faith. I have felt more deeply connected with those around me when I look at them as beloved children of God, as opposed to merely fellow campers or
counselors. By looking at every person we encounter as a beloved child of God, it truly opens us up to a new world of relationships and connections. Where before we may have seen differences, now these differences are a beautiful and intentional part of God’s creation.
The Dalai Lama once said, “We can never attain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” My time at Loch Leven truly allowed me to make peace with myself and to look beyond at everyone as a beloved child of God.