Sunday, June 25, 2017

"this is where we belong..."

"I hear the wind across the plain.
A sound so strong that calls my name.
It's wild like the river,
its warm like the sun.
Yes, it's here -- this is where I belong..."

Bryan Adam's soundtrack for Spirit - Stallion of Cimarron is my go-to when I am missing my daughters. When they were little girls we would watch it on rainy Saturdays, or on long winter days when our dreams of summer, horses, and camp seemed too far in the future. The other night, it was "This is Where I Belong," that sang through my heart.

I've just finished three weeks at camp. There is no place on earth that means as much to me as the Adventure Unlimited Ranches. I know I am not alone. This place is the heart's home to many generations of campers, counselors, staff, families, and volunteers.

At the beginning of training school Ranch Director, Alison Peticolas, encouraged the summer staff to join with the full-time staff in embracing a number of key results that the organization had identified - and agreed upon - earlier in the year. Each of them would give greater clarity and focus to our individual and collective purpose this summer. The first two really spoke to my heart -- articulating an over-arching organizational desire to help constituents and stakeholders:

- deepen their relationships to God

-  feel loved and valued

There was something so simple and profound in these desired outcomes. I kept coming back to them throughout training school as I interacted with, encouraged, and supported staff, evaluated my own thoughts, and assessed the soundness of my actions at the end of each day.

These questions helped me clarify whether or not my expectations were consistent with the goals of an organization I felt so honored to serve: "Were my words and actions encouraging a deeper relationship with God? Did I leave others feeling loved and valued?"

They were questions that stayed with me throughout the day. They gave structure - and breadth - to each opportunity for service.  They brought greater focus to our collective preparation for receiving campers - and families - at the end of the month.

For example, each time that I was asked to speak, I had to ask myself, "Will what you are saying, make others think about you and your relationship to God, or will they be encouraged to deepen their own relationship with divine Love -- through their own prayer and listening?"

The same kind of clarity came with the second key result. I found myself examining my thoughts and words throughout the day -- asking questions like: "If someone could actually see your thoughts would they feel loved and valued? Are your words and actions leaving others feeling loved and valued?"

Then on the last night of training school, after the annual Heritage Night banquet, my friend Heather gave a talk in which she honed in on three promises for staff to cherish -- for themselves, and for their campers:

1. You belong here.
2. You are ready.
3. You are not alone.

I couldn't help but think of how it had all come together so beautifully. Between the key results, and those promises, everyone had all that they needed to go forward with confidence, humility, and grace.

We each belong here -- exactly where we are -- in the cabins, programs, roles, responsibilities, and the relationships we are in.  No one is out of place.

We are ready for whatever presents itself as a platform for spiritual growth, healing and adventure. We are prepared -- but so are our fellow staff members, and the campers -- we will be working with throughout the summer. Everyone has been graciously prepared. We can trust this truth. Everyone is the very manifestation of the promised "kingdom of heaven within" -- inspiring, governing, guiding. 

We are not alone. Scripture promises that, God is with us always, everywhere.  So, not only are we always "with the Lord," -- individually.  We are also part of that "us." -- collectively.  Yes, we each have the "kingdom of God" within us.  But we also have each other -- to encourage, inspire, listen with, and appreciate.

What a wonderful three weeks of training school. The staff is focused on deepening relationships with God, and helping others feel loved and valued. They know that they belong, they are ready, and they are not alone -- and neither are their campers.  Thank you for this succinct reminder, Heather.    

I can't help but think of the passage in Mary Baker Eddy's The First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany from which the name Adventure Unlimited comes:

"This day drops down
upon the glories of summer;
it is a glad day,
in attune with faith’s fond trust.
We live in an age
of Love’s divine adventure
to be All-in-all."

Here's to a summer of unlimited adventures.

offered with Love,


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