Saturday, July 12, 2008

back from the quiet

so i spent the week last week at a beautiful camp called Pilgrim Pines outside Swanzey, New Hampshire. Pilgrim Pines is wonderful. it's a conference center, youth camp, retreat center, and family camp of the Evangelical Covenant denomination. it's a Swedish denomination, originally connected to the lutheran reformation. swedes. weird! i've never heard of it! turns out, it's not a big deal down here in texas. imagine that ... we have so many swedish towns ... not. ... but it's a happening denomination up north and in the midwest ... where there are more swedish-american folks ... and as america has grown, the denomination has grown, and it's not all swedish-americans ... although a lot of them have names that end with "son" - gustavson, anderson, gunderson ...
anyway, i was asked to go up there by a dear friend and a great man of faith, Jim Condap, who's a stud. he and his adorable wife, erin, just went to see Rush, the great rock band, last night for their anniversary. erin's first Rush concert; jim's 22nd. jim, a former youth pastor, loves loves loves people. he loves god. he loves what he does. he's a beautiful soul. he adores his wife and two little daughters.
he asked me to come up to his E.C. church in connecticut six or seven years ago to lead a small retreat for his group of friends, who'd been reading my book wrestling with god. it was really good. he emailed a year ago to ask me to come up and speak at family camp at pilgrim pines. it was a gamble on his part. he didn't know how the Covenant people - from teens to young adults to old folks and everything in between - would react to me; i'm not one of them, not like their usual speakers. jim took a risk, because he considers himself as a pastor to them during the summer, and he wants to continue to give them the good stuff, even though it's sometimes not what they're used to back in their home churches.
i spoke on the theme of jesus trying to get us all to know that it's not about the rules, but about knowing that we are god's beloved.
it was a wonderful experience - at least for me and my wife - in a beautiful camp alongside a gorgeous small lake, nestled in mountains and tall trees, in the middle of nowhere. jim put me and leslie up in one of their nicest cabins, and sent us to a lovely restaurant on wednesday night for our 25th wedding anniversary. i fished, canoed, read, napped, walked, and practiced sabbath. and worked hard to give those people something meaningful to take with them. i hope it was. i think it was.
so, thanks jim, and erin, and pilgrim pines. for the rest. for the sabbath. for the welcome. for being real people. for taking the chance that this not-Evangelical-Covenant-pastor-with-an-earring-from-a-weird-church-in-weird-austin could give a gift to you. it was an honor.
OH - AND - NO TV. no stereo. no internet (except in one little building, not our cabin, so that was great). we got home LATE last night and slept LATE today and turned on the TV and realized i didn't want to watch any of that shit - no cooking shows portraying perfect little dishes and parties, no reality shows about goober people competing about stupid things, no home-improvement shows selling me on the idea that i need to improve my already-just-fine home, no 2400-hour-a-day news about a lot of shit i don't need to worry about. today is about rest, and get ready for journey ifc's 4th anniversary worship and celebration tomorrow, and prepare tomorrow's worship talk, and check in with friends i've missed, and be with family.
turn off the tv. look at the sky. listen for god. don't allow them to sell you shit you don't need or need to do. play. get rid of clothes you don't wear. know you are already everything you ever need to be. you are god's beloved.


paraheadache said...

Wow... how cool. I know when I gave up TV it was hard for about... a day... now I can't believe how *little* I care about the babbling of random heads on the box... oh, and the news I don't watch either, after finding out first-hand how they twist words and sensationalize BS to make it more enticing. Ugh. I read a lot more, it's good.

Chiron' said...

Tv? Isn't that what you look at when you are playing videogames or DVDs?

well, that's all mine is for anyway.

Glad that you had a chance to unplug for a while. It sounds like it was good for both you....and them. : )

(And thank you for being a weird pastor with an earring for a weird church in weird austin which is the first actual time in my life I have ever WANTED to involved in anything which remotely resembled "church".)

Love you bro


Rick Diamond said...

yeah baby!

jim said...

what a great week we had!
remember the late night owl sighting? what a hoot.
sorry, had to do it.

come back and see us again!