Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I'm Glad I Went

Last Friday, I shared my fears of going to the church camp-out because of all the unknowns. I wrote that my fears had gone, but then things got worse. I don’t have the energy I should have and by the time all was ready to be put in the car, I had a meltdown. I was so physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted, all I could do was sit on the couch and cry. I wanted to go. I wanted to get to know people at church but was going a reasonable thing to do? There was still much to do: pack the car, drive to the camp-out location, unpack the car, set up the tent and arrange things inside it ready for sleep and the weekend. How could I do it all? I didn’t think I could. I was sure I couldn’t and so I sat, stymied in despair.

Thank God for awesome sons! Mons and Erik came and sat on each side of me. Erik held my hand while Mons cradled my head, stroked my hair and spoke words of understanding, comfort and encouragement. They helped Tom load the car and we left with me hoping I’d have my emotions under control by the time we arrived at the camp. I did.

God blessed me again. There was still the problem of unloading the car and setting up camp and, when we arrived it became evident that it would be more difficult than I anticipated. We couldn’t drive the car to the tent site. Everything had to be carted a far distance. No way could I help do that! But one of the pastor’s wives I had never met before came to the rescue without even knowing the problem. She marshalled some kids to help carry our things and she herself helped me put up the tent—something I hadn’t done for a few years and so had forgotten how, especially in the state I was in.

Isn’t God good? The entire weekend was a blessing. The meals I had worried about worked well. People brought complete meals for themselves but brought extra so as we sat around the various tables, people would call out inviting others to have some of this or that. Truly, I took far too much food and brought most of it back home but the Red River Cereal was a hit (totally unexpectedly).

I learned the stories of two or three people, got to interact and get to know quite a few other people, and made notes of people’s names and descriptions so that hopefully, in the different context of church itself, I will remember who they are. We sang around a campfire, gathered in the picnic shelter for meals and when the heavens opened with a ferocious deluge; we played games, visited and enjoyed interaction with and observation of the many little children.

Each night we were visited by a pack of foxes. I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to see them but I was told they were not afraid of people and at least once, one stood quietly behind someone’s chair at the fire for a good ten minutes. One of our numbers, a man who lives on the streets of Winnipeg, stayed up the second night, patrolling our camp to keep us safe. What a gift! What a blessing!

Sunday’s sermon was good and took an angle on a Leviticus passage I'd not seen before. (The angle was new to me, not the passage.) The Israelites were given three special holidays by God. One of these was the Feast of Tabernacles. Wikipedia says, "The English word "tabernacle" is derived from the Latin word tabernaculum meaning ‘tent.’ Tabernaculum itself is a diminutive form of the word taberna, meaning ‘hut, booth, tavern.’" I looked that up because I hadn't heard it before but that's what the pastor told us. Tabernacle means tent.

Why was the Feast of Tabernacles to be celebrated (check out Lev. 23 near the end)? It was to remember the 40 years they lived in tents in the wilderness. But why was it important to remember that time? Well, what did we discover this weekend as we lived in tents? Tents aren't as secure as houses and it's easier to live in community with tents (they're smaller and closer together). So the pastor suggested that God had the Israelites live for a week like their ancestors had so they could get a picture of what it was like to live less securely, with less stuff, sharing what they had and depending on God. I had never thought about it all in that way and what a great object lesson to have us all camp out together to illustrate his sermon! This is the second year they've had a camp-out in tents and I think the plan is to make it an annual event. I'll certainly go again.

God, thank you for all the blessings of this past weekend. Thank you for enabling me to go despite my fears and meltdown. Thank you for this church community I’ve become a part of—a group of people who are welcoming, giving, loving and fun. Thank you for being who you are, a God of wonder, strength, majesty and personal attention. You are everything I need, God. Thank you.

2 comments:

Di said...

Oh, sweetie!! I'm so glad you went. God is sooo good!!!

Debbie Haughland Chan said...

He is, isn't he?