By the Rev. Deacon Mary Beth Emerson
Job sharing this camp season with the Rev. Amanda Knouse and the Rev. Rock Higgins as a Staff Chaplain, and bouncing back and forth from life on the mountain, and life off the mountain, I became acutely aware of time. We all spent Staff Training Week together, which was one of the most impressively professional leadership training's I’ve ever experienced, and then did shifts a couple of weeks a piece. So, after Staff Week and back at ministry in “the valley of the world” I began to count the days, the hours until I could turn my car back toward the Shenandoah Valley.
It’s about two hours from my front door in Arlington to Shrine Mont with no traffic, and perhaps in some universe other than Northern Virginia there’s no traffic, so again, time awareness. Arriving midday at Shrine Mont, and in that space between where I came from and the rhythms of camp, it took maybe 24 hours for time to slow and the pace of camp to be set by wake-up bells, meals and The Goodnight Song. Time is very different at camp, and in a wonder-filled way.
I don’t like wearing a watch, but it’s mandatory as other tech devices have no place at camp (for good reason). I noticed soon enough after arriving again that the face of my cheap, old plastic sports watch had become cloudy. I peered intently at the thing, wishing for more clarity, but the watch-face stayed cloudy, attempting to school me in being open to outcomes.
As St. G’s Session One came to a close, I noticed how much the Camp Directors and Counselors had poured themselves out for the Campers. They were spent, and I wondered how I could assist in their restoration during their short “Tweener,” the brief break between Camp Sessions. So -- we turned the top floor of Tucker into a Spa, replete with facials, foot scrubs and hand massages. It was such a big hit that our Explorer’s Camp Staff had a Spa Nite a few days later.
In prayer and meditation before our Spa time, we talked about Chronos and Kairos, both Greek words for time. Chronos being, you know -- cloudy watch time -- and Kairos being God’s time. I may have freaked the St. G’s Staff out a bit, as I thanked them in Kairos time for helping raise my own kids, young adults their age, but raised as many of them had been in the light and love of Shrine Mont Camps. I think they got it.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” say the writers of Ecclesiastes. Kairos Time is composed of God-Moments, and Camp Time is Kairos Time. Generations before and generations to come gather in song and joy and play, in breaking bread, in creation, to become God’s dream for us: this whole, new family. The Kairos Time of camp is composed of moments of pure, ripe, whole connection and possibility.
And sometimes even foot scrubs and facials.
Spreading the good news of Shrine Mont Camps into the Valley of the World.
The View from the Mountain is written by a rotating cast of staff writers and contributors.