As I walked around this afternoon, I felt like I was back home again. That’s what coming back to Montreat is like for me. And this year I get to enjoy it in a very different way – as a participant. I have loved chaparoning the last two years, and I will miss having the constant contact with the kids during the day. But I really look forward to being immersed in music education for a week. And I get the best of both worlds, really, because I still get the time with all our wonderful children during the time we’re in the lodge together. They are each delightful and bring so many gifts.
This afternoon a group of the new folks and some old-timers went on a tour of the Montreat campus – over twenty of them! Others went to the grocery store to buy provisions for the week. More than $900 later, we have a house-full of food, and man-oh-man can those kids eat! We made hot dogs and burgers (thanks Jonathan!), homemade macaroni and cheese (thanks Becky and SJ!), and fries. Later we had cupcakes to celebrate Thea’s eighth birthday, and everyone got to choose their own icing from chocolate, cream cheese, strawberry and butter cream. Choices, choices!
A big group of us went rock-hopping and the kids had a fantastic time splashing around and throwing water on each other. Rock-hopping remains one of my favorite parts of coming here. The kids enjoy it like nothing else. And the newbies fell in love with it and they all asked when they could go again.
The worship service tonight was spectacular. The focus was All Saint’s Day (I know, I know, it’s June, right?!). When I registered for the conference, I received an email about this service. They indicated they wanted participants to send in photos of saints in our lives, so I sent in two pictures of Ben’s mother, Jean Estelle Frith Downs, who died in 1989. In the service I realized I forgot to tell Harrison, and so when he watched the slide show, he was surprised to see his grandmother up there. It was a sweet moment, me watching his face while he saw her pictures come up.
There was a quote on the margin of the order of worship for tonight:
Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.
— Rabindranath Tagore
All I could think about is Barbara Northup, my dear friend who is dying after a long struggle with cancer. She is one of those people who profoundly impacts most of the people she meets. She had a huge impact on me as I came into the interpreting field, and I have always loved working with her and learning from her. I sang “For All The Saints” for Barbara, through tears.
The conference preacher is Robert Rimbo, a Lutheran bishop from New York. He gave a lovely sermon that centered around the Swahili word “wazimu” which means crazy or unexpected, paradoxical in nature. He said our wazimu Jesus was the prince of paradox, in relation to the beatitudes. Blessed are the meek? The persecuted? Wazimu Jesus was always messing with us, turning our thinking upside down. I’m not doing his sermon justice, but it’s late and I’m tired. I hope you get the gist.
Off to bed. Goodnight, all.