Yesterday a trio of people came to visit and remember the days of their youth here in Windsor. Two of them had been campers here when the Spiritual Center was Big Island Camp, a summer camp for Jewish children and teens, and the third, a husband who had heard all the stories from that era and was a willing companion to the two who desired a return to “the old days.” It is less common now, after almost 40 years of the life of the Spiritual Center, for campers to come back to refresh their memories, but come they do and their conversations with each other as we tour the land and the buildings always reveal a fondness for their experiences here.
Yesterday was no exception and I was happy for the opportunity to be the “tour guide” with a window into their past and observer of their appreciation for what has become of their youthful home-away-from-home. Several times, someone remarked that those days were experienced as “simpler times” when campers lived in primitive cabins, played simple games and used their creativity to entertain themselves and each other with the carefree energy of summer. The follow-on line was always, “That couldn’t happen now…” and everyone agreed. Now there are security concerns everywhere and standards for everything like whether or not electronic devices are allowed in camp. (Well, we at least need our cell phones!!)
Nostalgia aside, it’s easy to admit at times like yesterday that we have lost something in the past half-century. We must admit, however, that there are some astounding advances that are beneficial to our world – and there are campers who are still learning to love the outdoors and experience the joy of diving into a lake or catching a fish or climbing a mountain – or being part of a group challenge in creating a game or making something silly out of clay. Moreover, even the sophistication of many camping experiences now can remain as peak moments in a person’s life as it is the relationships that form from those times that stay with us when all the specifics of the experiences dim.
This morning as I read the wisdom of the gospel text that says, “The kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old” (MT 13) I gave thanks for the happy memories embedded in this land and prayed that we would continue to enliven the people who come here for peace and rest and refreshment with an experience of reverence for all that has been and all that can be for those who share it.