The Fabulous Familiar

Taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Light the Fire

I decided, in my effort to be more spontaneous, I should take hold of the last minute opportunity to travel to Pennsylvania with my friend Tina to visit her church camp and her family. I basically transferred all of my California luggage over to another bag and headed to the other side of the United States. Not many people can say they went to California one weekend and Pennsylvania the next. It was a wild ride, but I loved every minute of it.

One of our first stops was at her childhood church camp, tucked amidst one of the tallest mountains in Pennsylvania. She has often talked about how this camp was the highlight of her summer and how it was a huge part of who she was as a person. Upon arrival, it became very apparent to me that this was indeed a facet of her soul; and the people who made it up were practically family. Though it may have appeared that I was the strange girl following her around, I was taking it all in; noticing the relationships and the love as she caught up with those around her.

It made me quite homesick for my home away from home: Crowley's Ridge Youth Camp.

I don't know what it is about church camp that soothes the broken heart and lights the candle of rejuvenation in the lives of those who attend. It's like you go the other 360 days of the year blindly bumping into walls and hurdles that seem to pop up, but for that one week, you are able to clearly peer into your own heart and see the lighthouse in the distance.

I assumed that, since this wasn't my own camp, I would be detached from emotion. Wrong. One of the first singing sessions, a song that always gets me choked up was led. In the devotional song "Every Time," the chorus breaks into "I don't know why so many things seem to get in the way; of knowing my God's glory..."

It's not just the beautiful melody that gets me; it's those words. Because the truth is, outside of camp, it is easy for me to let things get in the way. Work. School. Boys. Stress. Homework. Complacency. Each small distraction combines to create a puff of air that distinguishes my light; my fire.

It is under the stars and by the campfire that my passion for life and love was always restored. I never felt more beautiful in God's eyes than when I had five children hanging off of me, their sticky fingers pulling at my arms and legs. I often wonder why slopping macaroni and cheese on a paper plate has always brought me more joy than getting praise at work; how hearing "Ashton, you're the best counselor EV-ER!" far exceeds a compliment of outer beauty.

I feel like church camp is this for a lot of people; it's a recharge; an escape; an accurate mirror through which to view yourself. Camp, both figuratively and literally, strips away the make-up, the material things, the electronic distractions from your life and makes you momentarily see the world and nature as God sees it, instead of through the lens of the world.

I challenge those of you who have a special place for camp in your heart to, like me, carry it around in a special place in your life. When I'm in church and someone happens to lead "Light the Fire," I often picture myself sitting on the logs around the campfire. Listening closely, I could almost swear I hear Danny Smith blowing the whistle in the background; and my father singing "Little Cabin in the Woods." Kids shriek after the water balloon fight and Gary Cupp is making everyone laugh with his "Lobster" song. Paige and I are choreographing (not dancing, mind you) in the kitchen and Ms. Christi is planning some amazing prank to pull on the boys.

I always know that there is one place that will always bring me back to the Ashton I want to be; it continually takes me for who I am, no matter how far I have strayed away.

Camp is one place that I can always see God's glory. Every time.


Blogger Kelsey said...

That picture is perfect.

July 28, 2010 at 3:51 PM  
Blogger Morgan said...

That song Everytime, gets me too. I remember singing it at camp every summer. The neatest was when singing about the storm - it began storming. It was one of the most powerful moments that I fondly remember. Sometimes I wish I could head back to camp to recapture a part of that peace as well!

July 28, 2010 at 5:54 PM  
Blogger Daddio said...

You're always welcome to come back to Teen Week! I know the director and he would love to have you be a back-up singer on Little Cabin in the Woods.

August 2, 2010 at 10:40 AM  

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