The Sacrament of the Outdoors
Today, the interns had a lot of the camp to clean. A couple of our wonderful intern volunteers just left yesterday, and the numbers of the cleaning crew are dwindling dangerously. HOWEVER, today when I woke up and drove to work, the outline of the mountain was clear and sun reflected on the wet, yellow leaves on the road. As I scoured the toilets, shined the faucets with Windex (my favorite cleaning product), and shook the bed comforters free of dust, I couldn’t help but soak in some vitamin D and some joy at seeing such beauty outside. The lake was covered in a drifting fog that was being burned away by the sunlight. The trees across the lake from Timber Ridge lodge looked like they were in flames with the fall colors as I polished the tables in each room.
I recently finished reading Ann Lamott’s book, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. I love reading her writing because she writes so truthfully about life in words that most people resonate with. In one chapter, she describes her work at her church teaching Sunday school. Though she doesn’t always know what she is doing or even enjoy teaching a bunch of wild kids about Jesus during the hour she has them on Sunday morning, she has a lot of wisdom to share. She says in describing her method of working with the kids, “I loved them, I gave them good snacks, drawing paper. I let them go outside for the Sacrament of the Lawn, to blow bubbles and to play catch” (Lamott, 199). I love that line: “The Sacrament of the Lawn.” Lamott knows how people work. To me, the out-of-doors does feel like a sacrament. Even if I am inside a building learning about Jesus, there is only so much “inside” that I can take. I am like those kids in Sunday school who just want to go outside for “The Sacrament of the Lawn.”
As I cleaned toilets in Timber Rock log cabins today, I came to the conclusion that the concept of the outdoors being a sacrament is partially why camping ministry works. It works because we all want to go outside for some sacramental time in God’s creation. We all need time out in the beauty. God created in us a desire to see beauty and created us to enjoy the world around us. The Bible uses imagery of the magnificence of God’s creation to describe His love and faithfulness for us and towards us. The creation is a sacrament that speaks to us of who God is! No wonder we long to be out in the sunshine and tromping through the colorful leaves. Being outside shows us the love and beauty of the One who created it.
Thanks to all of you, staff, board members, volunteers and guests alike, who work to keep Cascades a place where people can retreat in God’s glorious creation. And to the rest of you who haven’t made it out to Cascades yet, please feel free to visit and soak in the “The Sacrament of the Outdoors” with us!
–Ellie “Dandy” VerGowe
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