By Bishop Susan Goff
Packing for a few days at Shrine Mont Camps is always a particular joy for me. It is different from packing for any other trip. It's what I don't pack that makes it different - no collars, no suit jackets, no change of jewelry, no hair dryer, no laptop. Packing for camp is packing for life stripped down to basics, stripped down to what is really important. At camp, an abundance of material possessions is not only unnecessary but it would get in the way, literally as well as figuratively. At the very least, an abundance of stuff would inhibit creativity, like the creativity shown by campers who find all the skit props and talent show costumes they need from whatever is available.
Too bad the rich man in Jesus' parable (Luke 12:13-21) never went to camp; he might have lived quite differently. As Jesus told it, the land of the man produced abundantly, so abundantly that there was not enough room in his barns to store all the crops. The man decided, "I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink be merry.'" But that very night, the man died. He died alone, quite rich in things, but poor in what really counts. Notice that every pronoun the man used is "I." He had stuff, but appears to have had no relationships at all, no one at all who shared his life. It never occurred to him that his abundance would have been a blessing to others, especially to hungry people. Other people were simply not in his heart and mind. When an abundance of stuff trumps relationships, we all become utterly poor.
Camp is all about those relationships, all about deepening connections with God and with other people. Camp is all about life stripped down from the abundance of clothing and electronics and beauty products and countless other things that we choose to need in our daily lives. Stripped down to the basics, we are rich. Stripped down to the basics, God's abundance increases and we become free at last for the things that really matter.
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.