Friday, June 10, 2011

Shrine Mont memories from Bishop Marc Andrus

Today I have another guest writer for you, the Right Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, the Bishop of the Diocese of California.

He is from Virginia and recently wrote about his serving as a chaplain for four summers at Shrine MontHis article appeared in a recent newsletter of the Bishop's Ranch, the camp center for his diocese north of San Francisco.

If you haven't signed-up to join us for our parish retreat weekend at Shrine Mont July 15-17, you can do so on-line by clicking HERE. It is fast and easy, one click away. Can't you just see yourself in those rockers?

Bishop Marc's recollection of Shrine Mont is below:

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Camp Memories
From the Bishop of the Diocese of California
The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus

I’m writing not about the great, positive impact that camps made in my life, though they did, but rather about the effect I watched come to be with campers at a diocesan camp in Virginia when I was the summer chaplain over four summers.

Each cabin of campers was responsible for the daily camp worship on a rotation. During the full camp term I (and Sheila, when she wasn’t out saving the world, and our daughters) lived in an early 20th-Century cabin built by an Episcopal medical missionary. I invited each group of campers to come to the front porch of the little cabin, where they sat cross-legged all around, with their counselor, and we planned worship.

Planning worship went like this: I would ask the cabin group if they wanted to talk about an idea, a question, or if they’d rather start with a story from the Bible, and move from that place to the questions and ideas. Whichever path they chose, we would then dive into the conversation, for about an hour.

At the end of the hour, we looked back at the conversation, and picked out what seemed most important to us all. I would then suggest how they might begin to move from these central points to a worship service. When they all said cheery good-byes and scooted on to the next activity, it would be the last involvement I had in their worship planning or in the service itself.

At the worship service, I would typically sit in the back bench of the outdoor chapel at the camp. I was always impressed, wowed to see them address questions at the center of life, questions that would be with them as they grew up and lived their adult lives.

At the most obvious level, these campers learned how capable they were to plan and lead worship, worship that was beautiful, funny, thought provoking, moving. Below that, they learned that it was possible to talk about hard-to-talk-about ideas, in a Christian community. They learned that the Christian community represents Christ, the divine, present with them, in all our questions, our laughing and our tears, and, there at camp, in dirt and rain, and hot sun filtered through leafy trees.

Those campers are now in their late 20s and their 30s. Some of them have faced immense challenges, immeasurable loss and tragedy. It is my hope that the way God met them on that concrete-slab porch hanging on the front of an old cabin, or in the chapel, assured them that God would always meet them in their lives, wherever they found themselves. And, I hope that the cabin and the camp got imprinted in their hearts, the acorn-like model of the Christian community, and that they find that living presence wherever they go, whenever they need.

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