Summer Camp Approacheth
Ok, so it’s been the usual month since I’ve posted. Wow, sad. I hope to find some sense of normalcy in about 3 weeks, and the chance to post more often. Janna and I have been somewhat in a state of constant “flux” for about 6 months now; from living with our good friends Eric and Carrie in Greenville, IL, to living with our priest and his family, we are starting to feel like vagabonds or perhaps nomads. However, we will soon be back in our own house, with our own stuff, and are very excited. Half of our stuff is stored at my folks house, so it will be like Christmas when we go get it, because we have no idea what’s there. 🙂 Anyway…
I thought I’d put in a little plug for our summer camp, and lay a few thoughts out on the table. First off, the camp is August 1-6, and I’m getting all geared up for it. Our board has performed remarkably as always, and have been more support and help than I could ever hope for. We’ve hired a staff of 20 people, mostly younger college-age young adults, which is a little frightening, but at the same time is a real blessing. They are my closest friends, and despite all the weaknesses that course through their flaming youth (just as it did and still does mine) I know that they love the Lord more than life itself, and are coming because they want to share that with this group of about 50 kids who need to see the Love of God more than anything. I am so thankful for each of them! So, for all who read this, I would ask that you pray specifically for the 50 kids and 20 staff who will make up St. John’s Summer Camp next week. Pray for protection, mercy, grace, and peace. There are a number of kids who will be coming who are really hurting, and I pray that their hearts will be touched, and perhaps they’ll make the decision to “put off the old man” just as so many of us did so long ago…perhaps at Summer Camp. Thank you in advance for your prayers!
Now, on to the thoughts… I mentioned above that Janna and I feel like vagabonds, and although that feeling can be very disconcerting, I think that it has also been a blessing. I’ve been reminded often this last year of the scriptures and hence the song by Rich Mullins called “You Did Not Have A Home” about Jesus. Scripture says:
Luke 9:57-62 As they went on their way, a man said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lie down and rest.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But that man said, “Sir, first let me go back and bury my father.” Jesus answered, “Let the dead bury their own dead. You go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.” Someone else said, “I will follow you, sir; but first let me go and say good-bye to my family.” Jesus said to him, “Anyone who starts to plow and then keeps looking back is of no use for the Kingdom of God.”
So, my point in all of this is that maybe it’s not so bad to feel homeless. I feel that way most of the time. I’m sure I border dangerously on sounding like a crackpot, but the way I really feel most of the time is this deep longing to pull back the curtain; like there’s this very thin veil that separates this life and this earth from what real life and real earth look like. I am constantly filled with a longing, or perhaps even an aching to be able to see everything as it really is. Janna and I were riding back from Oliver Winery last Sunday, after having a farewell winery trip for Ange, and suddenly I just lost it. I mean, there I was, wearing my gargantuan blueblockers, and dumbfounded and dumbstruck I found myself just weeping silently. And Janna turns and like the wonderful wife she is, she asks, “What’s wrong? What are you thinking about?” The funny thing is, I was having really happy thoughts at the time. But they were primarily about the early EOC days, and even more so about the whole Jesus movement. I was thinking about the innocence and purity of an entire generation coming to Jesus, and something about the music that was playing in my head seemed to trigger this outpouring of tears. I wept because as we were driving up 37, looking on all of that beauty that the Lord created, I got this overwhelming aching in my heart and soul to just be There. All of the memories I have, all of the old movies I’ve watched or books I’ve read about different periods in the Church’s life, and all I could see around me was all of that disappearing. You know, kind of like when the Elves are leaving Middle Earth and sailing into the West. It’s beautiful, but there’s this overwhelming sadness that so much Light and Beauty is going out of the world. And while I’m just sitting there with all of this gratitude and grief, sorrow and joy welling up inside of me, I once again have this old feeling that there’s just this thin “layer” that separates us from Reality. And it wasn’t that I was longing for it to be “like it used to” or anything, I just had this sense of innocence lost, and the dark getting even darker. Kind of like King Theodon says in LOTR, “What can men do against such wreckless hatred?” I can’t describe it better than that, and if I try any harder, the men in the white coats will most likely be paying me a visit soon.
So what’s my point? Well, like I said before, I think it’s ok to feel homeless. I’ve got more good friends and am more blessed with love and beauty in this life than I could ever have hoped for, and yet, I still feel lonely at times; kind of like I just don’t quite fit here. But, that longing always brings me back to God, because I know that’s what I ache for: to be Home. I’m only 26, and already I’m tired. I’m tired of the struggle. I’m tired of the fight. I’m tired of sin. I’m tired of death. I’m tired of the devil. But even so, there’s so much beauty here as well. It’s so good here at times! I love this life so much, and there’s so much left to see and do before I die. And above all, there’s my beautiful and loving bride whome I can’t imagine life without. In the end, I suppose Jesus was homeless because what other home could he have? This life is good, but it is fleeting. The world is dying. Evil is becoming more evil, and I fear that the good things of this Earth are slowly passing away into the abyss of sin and death, and I grieve. I know I’m not done yet, and there’s so much work to do, but all the same I ache for the day when I’m Home. I catch glimpses here and there; in the glimmer of radiance in the eyes of my wife, in the beauty of the Sanctuary, and in the love of friends and family. And I know that while I often feel alone, the Lord is always here, and I find the most comfort in that He makes His home in my heart. And so there is where my deepest longings lie, and there is where my tears begin to well up, because I think sometimes that when we weep, it is because the Holy Spirit is filling our lives and God Himself weeps as well for that which He loves so much. I figure He knows what it’s like to be lonely here, and he knows what wretched creatures we are, and yet He chooses to walk among us, to die for us, and ultimately to dwell within us. So I will continue to ache and to grieve, to long and to love, to live and to die; to live with a reckless abandon to God and die to myself; because I know that He is the Resurrection and the Life, and ultimately I will not die, but will be resurrected with Him and will one day see Him face to face. Oh God, how I ache for that day! Lord have mercy! And even so Lord Jesus, come quickly!
“…For now we see in a mirror dimly; but then, face to face.” ~St. Paul the Apostle
“I perceive that you are enthroned in my heart Lord Jesus. It is enough. And I know that you are enthroned in Heaven. Heaven and my heart are one.” ~ Celtic Prayer
“Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. All things are passing. God alone is unchanging. He who has patience wants for nothing. He who has God has all things.God alone suffices.” ~St. Teresa of Avila
“Nobody tells you when you get born here, how much you’ll come to love it but how you’ll never belong here. So I’ll call you my country, and I’ll be lonely for my home, but I wish that I could take you there with me…” ~ Rich Mullins, “Land of my Sojourn”
“Innocence gets ripped away before you ever get a chance to make it a friend, and you’re left with all your ‘might of been’s’; But you catch just a glimpse of it now and then. It’s never what you expect it’ll be, but the taste you don’t easily forget; and though I ache to get back again I know I’m not there yet…though I can taste it…” ~L.S., “Cast No Shadow”
“…And I know it aches, and your heart it breaks, and you can only take so much; walk on. Home…hard to know where it is if you’ve never had one. Home…I can’t say where it is, but I know I’m going home; that’s where the hurt is. And I know it aches and your heart it breaks and you can only take so much…walk on.” ~U2, “Walk On”