We are home from Beach Freak…honestly, I don’t feel more home to be back. Don’t get me wrong, the Christian Retreat Center isn’t my favorite place on the planet, don’t bury me in that particular parcel of land. But I got to take meals daily and feel the wind in my face and the sand pull from beneath me with so many of those who are home to me. So, though the floor is now not sandy and there is no curfew for my conversations, I honestly feel farther away than I did from “home.”
It was a good week. The speaker was insightful ( People, he showed an N.T. Wright video!) and helpful and honest. He so spoke in line with my heart and even used my language. (I loved that!) The music was powerful. Our team did an unbelievable job of hosting and facilitating and serving everyone in all manner of capacities. The kids seemed to have lots of fun and be very impacted by encounter with God.
But, what I will remember are these moments.
We were out body surfing the waves, more of us are learning every year. There was no rain, little seaweed and good strong sets of waves. ( Thank you again, God.) The waves were such that you could not stand in them, they could flip you over and pound your head into the sand. ( I know this for a fact.) You had to dive under. Pretty much everyone learned quickly to dive under, deep under, to get prostrate on the bottom and let the waves rush over. Otherwise, the power tended to cart-wheel you toward more shallow water and injury. As we dove in groups like porpoise, Glenleigh said to me, ( I paraphrase) ” I love that sense when you are under the wave, it kind of shuts everything out, and it’s just you and the wave.” ( Yeah, what she said.) In the excitement and adrenaline of the pounding surf, there was an other worldly place of deep peace. If you faced the wave, got low, relaxed and trusted, the wave would surge over, not into you. Underneath those powerful, unsteerable mountains of movement, there was stillness and only womblike sound.
During worship I always like to get on the far flank, so I can see our students. I don’t stare them down. But I often glance over them. I wish you could have seen what I saw in so many glimpses over so many days. Glory blazing, nearly obliterating, and then that next and even better thing that is rising…them seeing one another, hidden and at the same time a mirrors of light. We are starting to see one another. I can sense them taken aback and appraising the invaluableness of one another, so obvious in that better light.
I sat on the beach with my girls, who are now leading small groups, very expertly, I might add, leading with a compassion and grace, I do not share. I sat there with young men, whose hearts make me tear up. I sat there with a 15 year old, who each of you would guess to be 25, because her heart is so deeply hewn and beautifully carved and I sat there with my own children, who have found grace to love me so profoundly.
We can now just be, together, well. It’s sort of our favorite thing. Being together, without need to speak or joke or carry out ridiculously funny feats ( which we are so capable of .) Every year, there seems this moment, my favorite, where we do nothing, so very well, together….connected all the same.
This year a girl whose life in no way yet knows the healing that has come to ours, sat for hours beside some of them, talking a little to gentle hearts, and honestly, breathing better air than she might have ever known.
I brag on these kids a great deal. But not enough so. They worked so hard to make this camp a go. They organized and packed and loaded props and equipment (tons) and their hearts with compassion for who might come with us. They gave out of their joy, but also their need and brokenness and desire for others to gain the life of God that they have.
I am so blessed to ride and dive under and see the refraction of God’s glory upon the waves with these who are mine.
A speaker in a class was talking to us leaders ( many of our edge graduates were there with us) about building a youth group/program, developing a vision. I watched their faces twist up, their eyes narrow. Later on the beach, refereeing a volleyball game in broiling sand, some of them gave those grimaces voice. “We don’t have a vision/program. We are your vision.” I bit my slightly burned lips against tears, and nodded.