The words of the Shouting Prayer ricochet off the walls of the Tucker Hall dining area during nightly suppers. The whoops and hollers of swim parties can regularly be heard from campers frolicking in the pool.
But the silences of Shrine Mont can be just as powerful. You’ll find them in the rest periods after hearty lunches, and during the Good Night song and prayers that end the action-packed days at the camps.
The most poignant silence I’ve encountered at Shrine Mont came from several dozen normally noisy teens who had just finished their walk through the labyrinth. For what seemed like a blissful eternity (though actually only a few minutes), the 14- and 15-year-olds from St. George’s Camp, arranged in five small groups, sat together without a word passing through their lips.
These precious moments of silence, alone and yet shared, reflect the spiritual dimension that makes time at Shrine Mont so special. The spirituality never seems forced or spoon-fed. It’s a natural part of the conversation -- or, in this case, of the silence.
The campers had been introduced to the labyrinth by their camp chaplain. Then, in silence, they made their way through the maze. What does trudging on pea gravel by four dozen teens sound like? If you close your eyes, it sounds like the water of a river or, on a peaceful day, a sea -- water lapping onto the shore, cleansing it.
After experiencing the labyrinth and the silence, the campers talked about what the experience had felt like to them. For some, it aroused memories of family members who had died. For others, the thoughts were of dreams to come. For others, the feelings were of a connection to God.
Then they headed back to camp -- back to another adventure amid the noises and silences of Shrine Mont.
By Ed Jones
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.