Friday, June 6, 2008

Back from Camp!

I know it has been awhile since my last post, but between Annual Conference and JH District Camp, I am pretty much wiped out! I had a great time at camp, and I think all our campers did too...okay, most of them did! I got a chance to see some amazing things in their lives, that I otherwise would not have the opportunity to see. What a blessing!

I really didn't start out having a great time though. I have an old injury (broken ankle) that can cause me a lot of pain and this is the reason I haven't worked District Camp since it happened. (Elementary Camp has a lot slower pace!) Anyway, I thought that maybe it had been enough time since the injury (6 years) that maybe I could hang in there and keep up. I was wrong. The first day of camp I twisted that ankle and the resulting pain made me...well....a bit grouchy. In any event, I swore off ever going back to camp after this week was over.

Now, I told the camp deans that I had this injury prior to agreeing to work and they went out of their way to accommodate my needs. But unless you have had an injury like this that is chronic, you really don't think of how it completely and totally alters your life. Particularly when you see someone like me who refuses to allow such an injury to rule their life. (I tend to "fake it" a lot, and few people outside of my family know how much it really does stop me from doing things I would really like to do, or causes me pain when I do them anyway, which is quite a bit.)

The morning communion worship was in what is known as Serenity Canyon, which isn't too far away, but having to walk on anything not paved is EXTREMELY tedious for me, and by Tuesday morning (when I was in grouchiness from pain) I was less than serene. I was also less than moved by God's inspiring words pouring forth from the speaker. I was pretty much withdrawn into myself and my pain. I felt worthless and broken and crippled, both physically and spiritually. Worst of all...I felt old. And I'm really not, but these kinds of injuries age you quickly, because suddenly you do not have the physical ability of most people your age, and most people of all ages do not understand why you don't, even if they know. An injured body part wreaks havoc on the rest of the body which is trying to compensate for the injury and is causing stress on the rest of the body not made for or not accustomed to this extra duty.

Things did get better for me at camp. I took a nap Tuesday afternoon and I greatly needed that time for my body to heal (as much as it can during a nap) and my spirit to be renewed. I also began to get rides to Serenity Canyon which alleviated that stress. Of course, the general pace of the week was exhausting and to a degree painful. By the time I got home both ankles were extremely swollen, but after laying around last night and keeping them up the healthy ankle is back to normal and the other one is working on it.

But through this I learned a couple of important lessons: First, I would not consider someone with a physical disability to be of no worth and value, but immediately that is the place I go myself. I just have to do what I can. I can teach and share the love of God, which is of great value, especially to those kids who might not otherwise feel love at all. And if someday the camp deans get tired of accommodating me, I will find another way to connect with the youth and share God's love.

But the second lesson I learned was very important to us all. We are the body of Christ, when one of us hurts, we all suffer. When one body part is incapacitated, stress is put on the rest of the body. Sometimes this stress can be absorbed easily and we can learn to accommodate. Sometimes the injured part cripples the whole body and we are limited in our ability to carry out Christ's commission to go and make disciples. But in working together, being refreshed when we need to, allowing God to give us divine strength, we can continue on.

I cannot speak from the point of view of the body that would just stop doing these things altogether, because this is not my personality. I might have had to change my life because of this injury, but I did not stop living, nor did I really stop doing things I want to do, like work camp. I might have to make a few accommodations, as do some of those around me, but I do not stop doing things like working camp.

I do not know how the body of Christ could simply choose to lay down and quit being the body, or to choose to quit serving those whom Christ came to serve, to quit making disciples, but I suppose that concept is possible. Have we as the body of Christ been so crippled by the pain, division and factions carrying on in the body that we are no longer useful as the body of Christ? What are your thoughts?

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