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i have several links over there --->
and i try to check in on those pages once in a while. some of them stay the same for months because the owner doesn't touch the site. those i should probably take off as they defeat their own purpose.
others, however, do clearly the opposite. they post about the stuff of life. the stuff that matters. the thoughts that make me stop and think. below is one such post. from i don't know who this person is, but they write good stuff. they unearth items frequently. and the find the kernel of the truth that lies beneath, often covered by the nonsense and crap this world has. whoever this is, i thank them in my heart a lot.

and if you have ever worked at a camp, been to a camp, watched a camp in action, you know that what s/he says below is the greatest truth there is about heaven on earth.

to my beloveds at camp wright, i know it's a joke with us, i know we get silly about it, and say it like we're thugs. but i mean it with all my heart, CW 4 life!! i have never known a place so filled with love as camp wright. much love to z, karrie, jonathan, jessie waaaaaattterrrsss, duston, pabs, tim, the bens, kate, karl, and the bossman himself, vanimal for giving me home. especially to z, who keeps me posted on the happenings of the place, and is more honest with me than i am with myself. i miss all of it, all the time.

Sunday, August 15, 2004
Unearthed From: Camp
Camp. A place where young people can come together and leave everything behind. A place where perpetually muddy shoes and smoke-scented clothing are the latest style, and where nerds are sporty; the less contemplative can have profound moments, and lives are changed forever. Some camps have so many returning campers that each year is a grand reunion, yet mixed with first-times and God's presence felt anew.
Enter Sam. His name isn't really Sam, but his story belongs to many. Sam is developmentally disabled. He walks funny. Can't spell. His grammar often requires repeating to understand, and his maturity is barely measurable. He comes complete with thirty personal toys, stuffed in his duffel-bag, which never leaves his side. Sam is a regular at camp.
Sam has a new gimmick every year, usually something that a counselor found cute, which he repeated for more positive reinforcement. Sometimes it's a catch-phrase that made no sense. Sometimes it's one of his toys, or a new-found talent at making people laugh. Whatever it is, Sam's presence is the very presence of the Holy Spirit in that place.
You see, the program I know Sam from is a youth conference; for ages 10 through 16. They are separated into two age groups, and further separated into cabin groups, but they cross paths for meals and games and other activities. From jocks to nerds to non-conformist punks to preps and whatever other labels you can come up with, they are all represented here. They step into new lives as campers; members of groups that interdepend. Community at its best.
But Sam... Sam is a special case. I knew Sam when I was in middle school. Well I didn't know THIS Sam, but I knew plenty exactly like him. We never talked to such people, except to make fun. To point, stare, laugh, or humiliate. I guess it gave the rest of us some sense of security to know that if we started on someone vulnerable, we wouldn't be picked on when OUR flaws came forth.
Sam, of course, would come to camp every summer to an unconditional environment. On the ropes course, the jocks would help him through the simulated spider-web; lift him onto the swinging rope, help him balance on the tension-traverse. The smart ones would laugh at Sam's jokes. The punks would give him hugs and share candy. The number of breakthrough moments in Sam's life during one week of camp is unfathomable, partly because of the intensity of a mountaintop experience at camp, but partly because everyone around him would have been a detriment, a predator, at home.
Mike Yaconelli used to talk often about "Conspiracies of Grace". When things should go so wrong, but they go so right; almost magically-- almost... intentionally. Sam, although he could never tell you what it means, knows more than any of us what it is to be the receiver of a Grace conspiracy.
A game of kickball-- Sam kicks an infield homerun, due to the fumbling jocks who just can't get control of the ball. Ice Cream-- Sam somehow finds enough ice cream during Bible study for his entire cabin group to share. Worship-- Somehow Sam's joke in the middle of the sermon is the funniest thing the speaker has heard all week, and becomes the laughter-causing wonder-drug when a rainy downpour has us at our gloomiest.
Sam is not perfect. In fact, that's probably the easiest thing to prove about Sam. But I believe Sam experiences a taste of the kingdom when he comes to camp.
We need to figure out what it is about the "aha" moment people get at camp when they experience Sam. We need to research whatever Sam experiences when he encounters that unconditional love. That is the job of the church. Because somewhere in life, every one of us is Sam.


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