The ties that bind can sometimes just be thin threads, but other times they are bonds forged in steel. Each week I spend at Wakon Da-Ho I find evidences of both. Counselors who were recruited by those who counseled them. Someone saw something special in them and issued an invitation to share it with today's youth. Camp friendships that anxiously await reuniting year after year because other than social media and texting…this is the only time of the year they are face-to-face.
Each morning we gather in vespers with the morning sun drawing the mists off the surface of the ponds while the birds and bullfrogs protest our entry into their solitude. We watch the morning together and await God's words to us for the day. We marvel at the beauty of our surroundings and seek solace from those who gather here with us. The trees form a canopy of protection over our heads, their branches and leaves absorbing the laughter, tears, songs and prayers of the years. Some days it will gently rain above our heads but no drops make their way to our heads. We can see the little ripples they create on the surface of the pond and hear their gentle descent, but remain dry thanks to the protection of the trees that surround us. Other days, long after a rain has left a gentle breeze will stir the leaves and send a sprinkle down upon our heads while the rest of our world remains dry. It is a magic that is unique to Wakon Da-Ho. When it happens you can see the wonder on the faces of the youth who gather here and know this is one more instance that will forever tie their hearts to this geographical location.
Sometimes threads wend and weave themselves tenuously through the years. Youth and counselors have come and gone throughout the 40 or 50 years we've hosted camp in Casey County. Sometimes adults will take brief respites from the camp program, but return because they love it as much as the children and youth who gather here do. This year a new thread from time past wrapped itself around me and tied me forever to the story. One of Paris' children, now grown with children of her own made her way into one of the stories of Jesus' healing. Our stories cross through the roots that spread deep and wide beneath the soil of Wakon Da-Ho. Her healing and my healing have both come through the efforts of the same individual…and through our encounters with Christ at Wakon Da-Ho.
I've heard parishioners say for years how they come to worship each Sunday because they need an injection to get them through the week. I think I return to these people and to Wakon Da-Ho each summer for much the same reason. I often find healing when I didn't realize there was injury. I find acceptance, grace and joy when I didn't know I craved them. I reunite with old friends I only see face-to-face once a year, but with whom I long to share a week of camp chaos because no other can understand the magic and mystery of the place and its people like those I share my memories and healing with once or twice a year.