My first two weeks as a peace intern have brought me to the Lone Star State—to the cacti and cattle ranches of
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Gonzales and to the lakes and wooded trails of Athens.
While driving through Gonzales to get to camp I was struck by the town’s flag. Its emblem is a black cannon and its motto is “Come and take it.” Besides reminding me that one shouldn’t mess with Texas, the flag also got me thinking what I will take away from my summer as an intern. What will be the lessons I learn from the campers and counselors who share the summer with me? Will I grow stronger in faith?
Will I faithfully witness to the peace and love that Jesus embodied in his life? Will I be able to make a difference as an itinerant intern, discussing peace and social justice in the hope that in doing so the world will be a more just, more peaceful place? I admit that I have doubts for this journey—great ambitions don’t often lead to great results. But I have hope that God is moving in my heart and in those of campers across the country, transforming us into agents of peace and love who can, even in the smallest of ways, make this world a better place.
Already I draw encouragement from my experiences in Texas. As an outsider (and a Yankee at that) I have been welcomed with love and grace into the camps’ communities—surely an example of Jesus’ unconditional hospitality. I have heard powerful keynotes on loving and accepting ourselves and each other, remembering that God created us, with all our imperfections, lovingly and with a good purpose. I was reminded of the universality of God’s love, knowing that we are not loved because we have value, but have value because we are loved. I was inspired to continue seeking God, to open my heart and my senses to experience God, and to act with God to manifest Jesus’ love and welcome to all.
I am encouraged by the honest and open conversations I have had with campers and counselors as we explore what it means to live meaningful lives of faith. The Spirit moves in mysterious ways at church camp, opening us to be honest with others, allowing us to recognize our vulnerabilities, and helping us to celebrate God’s creation in all its beauty.
I expect I will continue to be encouraged and surprised in the weeks ahead. Dancing, singing, praying, and worshipping with those in Gonzales and Athens has energized and inspired me for the road ahead. I am blessed to be a peace intern this summer, and I am excited as I ponder all that I will take and leave behind on my journey.
Jonathan Cahill is a 2014 Disciples Peace Fellowship Intern, sponsored by Federated Church of West Lafayette.