Monday, September 08, 2008

On camping in a hurricaine

As you might have guessed from a much-mocked, and justly so, previous post, I was on an all-church retreat this weekend on the Eastern shore. The youth were, as always, reasonable and well-behaved. As always, people were amazed that I stay in the youth cabins. (This sort of offends me on the youth's behalf but I try to let it go.)

And it rained. Boy hidey, did it rain. It looked like someone had just put a hose on the downspout. The kids seemed evenly divided between the ones who wanted to go play in the mud and the ones who preferred the indoor messes that come with arts an crafts.

There were, as I mentioned, conversations about God and workshops about spirituality as well as lots of arts and crafts, and a few attempted marshmellow roasts that were rained out. I lead a journaling workshop that is secular in title, though the journaling often ends up with a reverent and religious tone as the prompts tend to focus on values and that tends to bring people's thoughts to that which is greater than themselves.

Now this will sound immensely cheesy to those of you who are unchurched, and maybe some of you that aren't, but we have a dance we do every year on a large field after Saturday night vespers. We all hold hands and sing a simple song over and over again while someone who knows how to lead the dance leads the line of people in this spiral pattern that turns in on itself in such a way that everybody gets to be in the center at some point and then loops along back out of the spiral. When there are 300+ people dancing, this is a pretty big event.

It feels really spiritual and cool, even as people sometimes drop hands and one part of the spiral has to go chasing after the part that is leaving it behind.

Anyway, on Saturday afternoon as I led my journaling workshop while Hannah raged, I found myself thinking about this hokey, awesome dance and how weird it was going to feel to simply go back to summer-camp-esque activities after an indoor Vespers. I was bummed.

But shortly before Vespers, the storm broke. We opened the doors of the dining hall where we'd been having our service, and we started to sing our song. Soon I was looping in toward the middle of the spiral, watching the happy faces and muddly clothes of my fellow congregants go by, old ladies and little boys alike. I wish I'd been able to stop dancing long enough to get a picture of the clouds breaking apart above the trees as we spiraled around, some people kicking their shoes off and feeling the mud between their toes.

Now, I can't say that all 299 other people will be with me on this one, but it made me want to dance every year, in the rain if necessary.



Lilylou said...

What a great experience, CC! When my son was in YRUU, half his lifetime ago, he would come home in ecstasy from just the kind of thing you're describing. And on Friday he and I had a long talk about how he wants to contribute to the Reno UU youth group as an advisor. Boy, what goes around comes around, it seems.

Comrade Kevin said...

These such experiences are too infrequent---and I wish for more of them.