Well, this blog post is a bit overdue. Somehow I got a little caught up in life the last couple weeks of this summer, and while I had several things I’ve wanted to share, I never had the opportunity to really sit down and write it out. Now I’m way behind on sharing my adventures with you with a lot to say. Time really does fly when you are having fun. This
post doesn’t quite do justice to the experiences I have had the last three weeks, but here is a brief summary.
Since my last post, I spent a week and a half in Iowa at camp at the Upper Midwest Conference Center, three days at The National Convocation in Columbus, Ohio, and a week at camp in Lacey, Washington in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. In that time, I have continued to meet some of the most amazing new friends, shared some unbelievable experiences, and have continued to be challenged to think about the world in a different way. At this point, I feel almost repetitive, but each week offers me something different, yet is an odd addition to the week before.
To be honest, my time in Iowa deserves a blog to itself, but there’s one thing I will always associate with camp there – star gazing. Camp in Iowa was during the peak of my emotional exhaustion. The curriculum focused on loving our neighbor which fit so perfectly into my message of the summer that I had to immerse myself in everything. However, loving our neighbor is an easy concept to grasp in theory, but in reality the biggest challenge we may face as Christians. It is hard to comprehend what it means to love your neighbor and even harder to put that into practice, but it is essential if we want to make any sort of difference in the world. In order to debrief every day, I went each night by myself to the mini golf course, and using my backpack as a pillow, I just looked up at the clearest sky I have possibly ever seen. It is in those moments of staring at God’s unfathomable creation that I was reminded of just how human we all are. Looking up at a sky so big that is dotted with stars so bright and beautiful, I could not help but feel overwhelmed and comforted at the same time. When you look up, it is apparently obvious that this world we live in is big and we are all so small in comparison. If we can’t find any other similarities amongst ourselves, I encourage you to find a field on a clear night and just look up. We all see those same stars from wherever we are, and in those moments of reflection during star gazing, I think we can all find a common ground in the fact that whoever we believe created the scene above of us did one outstanding job.
I then went to Columbus, Ohio for The National Convocation, which if you don’t know is the Disciples of Christ’s African-American constituency assembly, and it was awesome. I had the pleasure of helping out with the youth while I was there and we went to a homeless shelter together. When I talked to an 8 year old boy there who wanted to be a scientist when he grew up so he could make lava, I was heartbroken. It was hard not to be considering this kid didn’t have a home to live in and the reality of his situation meant his opportunities were limited. The more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t help but wonder – why in the world are we giving $45 million a year to Israel to help them “defend themselves from the terrorists,” when in reality they have killed several hundred women and children in Gaza as the Israelis continue to go to the beach in Tel Aviv? This is especially frustrating when we have a child, who lives in a YWCA in Columbus, Ohio and carries all of his belongings in a trash bag without a true place to call his home.. So I reiterate what the young pastor from Chicago said in his message at one of the convention’s worship services: “What is your peace? Homeostasis at all costs? If the church is to be significant we must address the many hells around us.” Quite simply, we are the epitome of hypocrites if we can say we love God, but refuse to acknowledge and act against our world’s many problems. Money isn’t a solution to homelessness, but it is hard not to question where our priorities tend to lie.
Finally, I went to Gwinwood Christian Camp in Lacey, Washington for my first and only middle school camp of the summer. Of all the injustices I have talked about this summer, being in middle school quite possibly may be the worst of them all. Honestly, being in middle school really isn’t fun, and I was reminded of that this past week. For one, middle schoolers are changing a lot, they are generally very emotional, and they do not know how to appropriately express their emotions. Worse than that, the system that they are living in is just downright mean. I recognized very quickly that to survive in middle school you absolutely cannot be different. It seems to me that it is in middle school when we are conditioned to go with the flow the most, and sometimes going with the flow means saying things that we don’t want to say or doing things that we don’t want to do. Middle schoolers are surrounded by peer pressure and bullies, and when you add the fact that social media has them all connected more than ever before, there is no escaping anything. So middle school is hard, and for all those that work with them on a regular basis, bless you. May we all try our hardest to remind them of how to love and that being different is something to be encouraged, not laughed at.
I still can’t believe how lucky I have been to have had the opportunity to be a peace intern this summer, and I am thankful to you for taking time to read my often times incoherent rambling…