Thursday, July 28, 2011

Camping...There's a point right?

I love camping...but why? One thing I love about camping is that it makes normal life feel way easier. I gain a new appreciation for simple things like a dishwasher, oven, bed. Camping really isn't easier, especially when you have three small children. It's a lot of work. Just trying to fit everything we would need for four nights into our little Saturn was an engineering feat. I decided for this last trip that I wasn't going to fall into my old pattern of hyping up the trip and having a lot of expectations and then being irritated and disappointed when things don't go my way. I decided to set the bar very low. I told myself that we would have almost no fun, relaxation, or peace. I said that this was simply a ridiculous experiment to see if we could even make it for the full four days.

I think this mental preparation was helpful for the success of the trip. I still had my breaking point moments, like when Levi just wouldn't stop crying or when the boys were being particularly crabby. But all in all it was a great trip. The weather was perfect (you might foggily remember that brief window). The scenery was beautiful. We were right on the lake and had this whole little peninsula to ourselves. Braden and Zac both swam in the lake for the first time (with life jackets). Heather thought it was too cold. It was. We pretended to be Proboscis Monkeys (those are the ones that swim and have funny noses). I loved watching my sons swimming an exploring and having an adventure. Another thing that occupied much of there time was picking huckleberries and salmon berries.

So what is it really that I love about camping? I think I love the pace, the rhythm, the rituals. You can do nothing while you're camping and you're doing something. You're camping. You can sit around the campfire in the morning sipping coffee, read a book down by the lake, put out a fishing pole, lay out in the sun, swim, tell stories, walk, make dinner, cook things on sticks, not shower, stare at something beautiful. All of these normal activities are somehow infused with meaning. They are somehow special, sometimes even sacred.

I was wondering out loud with Heather after the trip. Do people from other countries, countries with a lot of poverty go camping? Would they understand it at all. Or would it just make no sense whatsoever like so many other thing... like appetizers or 3.5 baths... Like would these folks wonder what the point is....of how we sort of like roughing it and being inconvenienced and how we like to give up all our luxuries.

I was reading about a wealthy family from California that gave up there life of luxury to move to Montana and life the rustic lifestyle. I guess they make a documentary of it. They built their own cabin, sewed their own clothes, make their own butter, stuff like that. At first the kids were totally against it. But the father felt like he needed to do something drastic or the family was going to be lost forever. After the year was up they asked the daughter which life she preferred. And with tears in her eyes she shared how she wished they could go back to their little ranch. That is the only time she remembered really being a family. Maybe that's what I love about camping.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Transition Reflections

Been feeling more private lately. Some big transitions. Not pastoring (professionally) anymore. Moved to Camas. Heather will be back to Teaching in the Fall. I've been giving myself a lot of permission to just take the Summer off (outside of my parental and domestic responsibilities). I guess this post is sort of the I don't really know what to say post after some big changes in our life. It's felt awkward. How much do I say? How many times can I have the same conversation? How public should I be? I tried to end my most recent pastoral call with integrity and grace. I can only pray that I was mostly successful in that.

I was talking to a pastor friend of mine who said it took her seven years until she had recovered from one particularly painful church pastorate. Seven years to be able to talk about it without getting defensive and then dumping on someone the whole painful experience. Seven years to find some objectivity. I don't know. Maybe I'm fine. Maybe seven years from now I will realize how difficult it was and I will find objectivity. I don't know. I was talking to some friends recently about my experience and she told me to stop being so nice, to stop defending the church. Honestly, I don't feel particularly hurt or burned. Maybe I do feel a little more jaded. A little more skeptical and cynical about church, politics, change, institutions, power. I always was a little cynical...but that's healthy right?

I saw some of our friends from BFC recently at our yearly Friends conference. I knew I was going to. I wondered how I would feel. Would it be awkward? Would I feel sad, glad, shame, disappointment, resentment? Some of the interactions felt more like joyful reunions. Most of the interactions were pretty superficial, which was fine for me. I didn't feel any really strong emotions. I was glad to see people. But it was a little bazaar... kind of like running into an ex-girlfriend. Everyone's smiling and being polite, but in that smiling and politeness nobody is saying how much things have changed, nobody is saying all the obvious, important, real things. What's the point really? I also saw many of my colleagues. Some were curious, some surprised, some didn't know what to say. I could see that they were wondering what had happened. Who broke up with who? What happened? We thought you guys were great together. Some wanted to know what I was up to now. What was my plan. I would shrug and say that I was playing with my kids, and going on lots of walks. Some thought that I was being funny or intentionally vague. Some tried to hide their embarrassment for me. Others smiled and nodded their silent validation.

I sat through that nights worship time and felt dry. The music team was great, but I had a hard time wanting to sing along. What was my problem? Did I doubt my own sincerity? The sincerity of the group sitting around me? Next, the the keynote speaker, our Superintendent, preached a great message. He talked about the body of Christ, community, unity that transcends diversity - all the powerful, inspiring, idealistic things that would usually stir me...and almost did.

Thanks for letting me process a little with you all, in such an odd public way. We'll see how I do getting back to my regular posting. I do want to reflect on a few things like: our families camping trip, how I got a scooter, my ten year reunion... etc.