I still consider myself new to the Diocese of Virginia, having come here as the Canon to the Ordinary last September. I've been to Shrine Mont twice this year, for the Fall Clergy Retreat and the Bishop's Spring Conference, and while those events began to give me a sense of how important and beloved this "place apart" is, I could not understand Shrine Mont without coming to camp.
Last weekend I had the privilege of spending a few days at camp, and here's what I discovered: the key to Shrine Mont is in small things. Anyone who has been here knows the overwhelming beauty of the place--grand white buildings and unique cottages rising from the earth with stories to tell, surrounded by God's huge garden of hardwoods. The inviting pool, the wide ball field, the pavilions--they all shout "come have fun!" Heck, the Shenandoah Music Festival sponsored Kris Kristofferson in concert Saturday night in the lower pavilion, growling out his famous songs to a packed house.
Jesus spoke often about mustard seeds, and widow's mites, and the lilies of the field. He paid attention to those who were small in the eyes of the world, insignificant--like some kids feel in school or on the playground, or sometimes, maybe, at home. Jesus spoke of the kingdom breaking into the world when one sees God not just in the great and grand, but in the ordinary. Bread and wine. Water. A child's project at Art Camp. A college student telling jokes to 13-year olds one minute and talking with them about weighty questions of life and God the next.
By Canon Pat Wingo