Summer Camp & Longing
“It was when I was happiest that I longed most. The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing to find the place where all the beauty came from.” ~C.S. Lewis
It’s time for Summer Camp again, and once again I find myself full of longing. It’s not always around Camp time, but it does seem to get stronger at this time of year. The quote from Lewis, above, sums it up better than I could ever say it. Jack has a way of doing that.
Perhaps some of you can relate, and perhaps not. Perhaps I’m truly crazy, but so many times throughout my life I have had such a strong sense of longing – a longing to see “home” – not to leave this life that is so wonderful, but to get back to where it is that I came from. I know I’ve said these things before, probably too often, but it is what it is and I can’t seem to shake it. God seems so close and yet sometimes so far away. Heaven is there and yet I can’t quite seem to grasp it. The way a tree sways, or a scent on the breeze in mid-summer, or even the color of the azure sky; all of these can sometimes have an ethereal feeling about them. There are times when many of these things remind me of something, and it’s not a nostalgic feeling but much more of a longing. The imprint of Eden remains despite the corruption that exists, and I can see it through what would seem to be a very thin veil.
I think others feel this way as well. I find myself surrounded by artists and musicians, poets and writers, all of whom feel lost, disillusioned, and like they’re not fulfilling their own purpose. We all believe and are often able to see, even if in nothing more than a glimpse, the influence of God all around us. And yet, we continue to drudge along at jobs that stifle, and stay silent at churches that are asleep.
So many people are burnt out and frustrated with the “church” and the consistent disappointment in the selling out of the Gospel for a multitude of things – greed, comfort, complacency, etc. In my own experience, many churches often can’t get past their own inner issues and self-centered defense of their own credo in order to take care of the orphans, widows, naked, hungry and disparaged, and encourage those in and around them to wake up and LIVE.
And of course, I am chief of all this. I am the first among the slothful, lazy Christians. I am walking around many times as if in a dream, or in a stupor that I am here, wondering what it is that I am supposed to be doing. And while this is frustrating, still there is this longing; the longing for things to be different, and not because my ideal says that they should be, but because I know that they can be, and in fact ARE.
I think that’s the key actually, and the real reason for this post. I want to remember. My heart knows more than my head, and I want to shake this amnesia and remember who I am and where I’m going. I think one of the primary reasons for the overall poor mental health, depression, and general insanity in our culture is that people integrally know that things can and should be very different. Although the modern world insists that we are free and only achieving more freedom, with every step it would seem that we are forming one more link in the chains that bind us to this mortal coil. Instead of freedoms we wrap ourselves tighter in the cloak of oppression in the name of comfort, financial gain, and peace for the world. We know that things could and should be different, and we know that Paradise is attainable because a part of us remembers it, and not just a self projected version of it, but actually remembers it.
I don’t know what any of this means, but I know that God fills my heart and soul with His Spirit and I’m not the same. I’ve never been the same. I am filled consistently with a longing for something more – something other – something that does not have it’s roots in this broken and fallen world. There is a longing that is beyond words, and it fills me with, as Jack Lewis said, a longing to find where the beauty came from. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this place exists – I have but to reach for it and keep my eyes fixed, and it will be revealed.
The time for compromises is over for this generation. We have the potential for so much and yet we are also the most full of laziness and complacency. Action is what matters – talk is indeed cheap. The current political milieu proves this with soul-shuddering clarity. True love shows itself in action. Today is the day of salvation and while I have no clue which way to go, I know I must move ahead. There is a glimpse of God in the glimmer of my wife’s eye, the joy and vigor in my God-children, the wonderful wet earthy smell of early Summer mornings, and the sun’s rays reflecting off of the river on my way to work. There is the reminder of God’s grace and mercy and guidance through the reading of old books. And there is the beauty of God in the midst of the sanctuary and the love present in His people.
This is all that is needed to shine the light and show the way Down the Path.
I’ve no idea where it will lead, but I’m increasingly sure of the fact that as the Psalms say, “I’ve never seen the righteous forsaken…” I can’t sort all of this out in my head, but I know that God is faithful and will reveal enough light for the next step.
Summer Camp approacheth, and while I feel significantly behind in my planning, I’m infinitely ebullient about this year and what it will hold. We will fellowship, play, learn, worship, sing, and pray together. We will share our lives, good and bad together, with one another. And above all, God will be there and the Holy Spirit will come upon us, and we will be filled – and it will be enough.
It is enough Lord, it is enough. Help me to see where it is that the Light comes from, give me the strength to reach out and touch It, and fill me with courage to share It with others.
You are the Light, and we need but a spark.