One of the things I love about my church community is the fabulous camping program we have. For over a century people have gathered up their families and brought them to “reunion” for a week. Back in the early 1900’s part of the gathering time meant stuffing straw mattresses to sleep on for a week. That is very hard to compare to the 5th wheelers and air conditioned trailers that show up now. For me, our family still tents, but on very comfy blow up mattresses. There’s something to be said about sleeping close to the earth with the sound of the waves to lull you to sleep. (that is, until you see a critter, scurrying around underneath the floor of your tent and you try and smack the unseen 4 legger with your shoe because you’re for darn sure you don’t want it to end up in your sleeping bag with you!!)
The first photo I have of myself attending reunion is when I was around 6 months old. My parents, and my grandparents, and great grandparents, and great-great grandparents all attended every summer. The draw is the community of people who gather there to renew friendships and strengthen their relationship with God. (it was also a great place to meet boys when I was a teen too 🙂 ) The people have been life long friends, many knowing my family before I was born.
Once I was older and had children of my own, I would either teach one of the children’s groups or run the children’s program. Going to reunion isn’t necessary a vacation it’s a time to renew your spiritual side and sometimes that means serving in work related ways. I think the children taught me more about faith and spirituality than I have could have taught them.
It is a week of laughter. We laugh a lot !! Whether it’s from pranks we pull on each other, or while down at the waterfront, or visiting late into the night, we laugh and enjoy the company of everyone.
After my son began taking drugs and getting into a lot of trouble with the law, life became very dark for me. I didn’t realize it at the time but I didn’t smile, or laugh or enjoy life like I usually did. I was falling into a dark abyss that had no bottom. A dark veil came over me. All went black. But, life went on and I went through the motions of work, life, raising my kids, wearing this veil of darkness.
It wasn’t until one morning while standing at the kitchen counter making lunches for the kids to take to school, my youngest stood beside me silently watching. It took me awhile before I even noticed he was there as I was lost in my thoughts. When the time seemed right, or after trying to figure out the right words to say, he finally looked at me and said “Why don’t you smile anymore like you do at camp?”
His little voice and that simple question, gripped my heart so tight I couldn’t take a breath. The tears welled up in my eyes as I realized the only mom he knew, the happy, laughing, mom, had vanished before his eyes. In my grief over losing my oldest to a world of drugs, I was not only losing myself, my children were losing me.