A few days ago, I took the picture of the rose that you see here. It prompted me to think about how much of the world, including us, goes through a process of unfolding.
The rose begins as a tiny bud, growing ever larger until such time as it opens and reveals the beauty that had been covered up. As I watched the tightly bound bud unfold, I was amazed at the beauty, the softness of the petals, and of course, the pleasing aroma of the flower.
Like the flower, each of us begins in tiny form, designed to grow into a larger version of this tiny self. That growth continues physically, and there is nothing we can do to stop it--although we have learned that there are some things we do that can compromise our health and well-being (poor nutrition or lack of exercise, for instance).
For now, though, it is the Spirit that is of more interest to me. Parker Palmer says that the soul is shy and must feel safe to show up. Camp and Retreat Ministries plays an important growth role for individuals, families, and communities by providing spaces where the soul can safely show up and allow campers of all ages to be who they truly are.
In providing sacred spaces of Christian hospitality and learning, we create an environment that encourages the growth, or unfolding, to happen. We know this can happen for campers as well as for staff and volunteers. We understand that this unfolding is a process that can take all week, or sometimes multiple weeks. With gentle encouragement and care the beauty, wonder, and sweetness of souls show up in holy connection with God and with one another.
When this happens, the world looks different. And when the world looks different, we live in hope and anticipation of what the world can become. Our world can become a place that unfolds and reveals more fully the mystery of God’s presence in our lives and in this world. Can you smell the sweet aroma of a world like that? I know that the rose holds one small part of that story and yet inspires me to work for more.
Do you recall a time when you experienced the unfolding of your soul? Do remember seeing others experience this unfolding? Please drop me a note and share with me what your experience of this unfolding has meant to you.
See you on the adventure ahead,
Rev. Todd Bartlett
Executive Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries
*PHOTO: Close-up of a rose, variety unknown (Todd Bartlett).
At the end of last week, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) unveiled its new guidelines for summer camp. You can find the guidelines here, along with a summary of recent changes and key points. I invite you to look at it. If you have questions about our summer programs feel free to drop me a note and I will be happy to talk with you about what these guidelines mean for us and our operations. This is definitely an interesting time! Even the rules are unfolding, as we learn more and continue to adapt.
Joyful, joyful, we adore thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
hearts unfold like flowers before thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away.
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!
(Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee, by Henry van Dyke, Public Domain)
Creation has been hot-wired to unfold! A huge part of the appeal of camp and retreat ministry is the opportunity to immerse oneself in nature, and witness first-hand the unfolding of ferns and flowers, hearts and lives. As the wonderful hymn reminds us, all this unfolding has God's love at its very core. Those of us involved in this ministry are eternally grateful for the deep privilege of witnessing the simple miracle of unfolding in God's love-light. If you are also grateful, we hope you will be moved to support this work by clicking on that green button.
*PHOTO: Sword fern fronds unfold at the Collins Retreat Center (Todd Bartlett).