Co-leading Christian Formation at Camp DeWolfe this summer was an unexpected gift full of growth, new friendships, beautiful scenery, and spending time in God’s presence. I loved planning the worship services: getting to preach and orchestrate activities that integrated what we were learning in concrete and creative ways. In the evenings I rotated between girl’s cabins for devotions, where I entered an intimate space of sharing and informal “prayers of examine”–recounting our daily highs, lows, and how we saw God.
The kids continually amazed me with their insights, absorption of material, and resilience. They came from all over New York, each with their own unique life story. One day in chapel we read Psalm 23 and talked about how God walks with us in both the peaks and valleys. That evening we made timelines of our lives, with “Alpha” and “Omega” written at the beginning and end to help us visually see how our stories are enfolded in the greater story of God. Some kids drew curves or jagged lines to signify how they experienced particular seasons, others drew illustrations or alternated colors. As I walked through the room, the kids busy at work in groups on the floor of the chapel, I was struck by how much they had already been through. Kids had lost parents, family members, and friends. Some had already gone through significant illnesses. They had witnessed divorces, marriages, and remarriages. A handful had been bullied. Several were impacted by suicide. They marked important events like finishing a grade in school, being confirmed or baptized, being part of a special performance, or the birth of a sibling. When we gathered together to process our work, they shared their stories with pride, tears, loss, residual confusion, gratitude, and celebration. The first leg of their journeys already included the trappings of a lifetime.
As I conclude my summer on the East Coast, I am struck by what a formative role this experience has played in my own journey. It pushed me to take all the things I’ve accumulated–the things I am proud of, still cause confusion, evoke gratitude, prick deep-seated loss, and release joyful celebration–and let it be used to tell a greater story. One where we can name our peaks and valleys everyday, and with the same breath name how God was present.
-By Christina Miller
Christian Formation Leader 2014