Creative Arts Camp each year at Camp Newfound in Maine is always a time to grow spiritually. The supportive influence of being there is a beautiful thing to see and be a part of. Not only is it satisfying to see yourself progress over the week and years, but it is also fun to watch others so visibly do that as well. (For example some of our best public speakers this last week were painfully shy in previous years. What a joy it was to hear from them!)
There is a definite spiritual dimension at camp, with not only a church service on Wednesday evening and Sunday morning, but a daily morning meeting as well, comprised of both Bible study and inspiration shared. We come together, not just because we are creative Christian Scientists, but because we love God. Even in classes, spirituality is freely and deeply shared, making us all come together to know and embrace each other in very meaningful ways.
So here are some of my treasured gleanings from this rich feast of the Spirit imbibed this past week:
- The first day someone shared with me about how they had prayed for their daughter-in-law, which resulted in an immediate adjustment to the situation at hand. She had prayed for [insert name] “to know how special they are to God.” This worked so well that she has used it repeatedly with great effects every time. I could use that on myself for my own benefit, and have already found it effective and helpful to apply when thinking about others as well.
- I swam to Cherry Island and back this year for the first time. This reinforced the wisdom that anything can be accomplished if you take it at a reasonable pace, have fun doing it (in this case I let it be a social moment and even made a friend along the way), while giving God all the glory, and without needing any personal prowess of my own. With this approach, no task or goal need seem daunting, because any ability to do anything comes from God, and God of course, is able to do anything good. So we, as God’s outcome, can naturally express and reflect that, with no training or major effort necessary.
- I heard many wonderful testimonies. One I especially appreciated was a healing of a broken (upper) arm, that the doctor said needed surgery for her to ever be able to raise her arm over her head. Much to the doctor’s discomfiture, she said she was going to rely on Christian Science instead of the operation. In a few days she was perfectly fine, lifting her arm over her head. The doctor, when shown this, was completely befuddled, shocked, and amazed. That doctor now defends Christian Science in medical circles; when medical people fret about Christian Scientists “doing nothing” she vehemently corrects them, stating that not only are Christian Scientists actually doing something, but what they are doing is more powerful than anything medicine has to offer.
- A couple women sang for us in morning meeting one day, “I will believe the truth about myself no matter how beautiful it is.” This was very powerful, and hit a lot of us like a ton of bricks. We have no problem loving our neighbors–in fact do it brilliantly– but strongly realized that we need to love ourselves as we love our neighbors.
- On the way to camp I had just mentioned to someone that in my new space as an empty-nester I was planning to actually take the time pray about body image in an attempt to normalize my weight, since I’m clear that I’m not eating badly. Then I got to camp to meet my silversmithing teacher, who happens to have a jaw-droppingly perfect body. Instead of feeling jealous or frustrated by comparing myself unfavorably to that, my instant thought was: whatever is good and true about one of God’s children, is true for all of them. This was such a freeing feeling that I think it is the first step out of my mental quagmire about my body shape, especially when coupled together with the previous bullet point.
- My silversmithing teacher, after a jewelry design career, and then making the official Christian Science trademark into a pendant, said that is the last jewelry she is going to design, because she plans on giving it all up to work in Christian Science full time. I remember so well when I closed my structural engineering business eighteen years ago to go into the full-time public practice of Christian Science. It was a huge move, based on wings of faith, hope, and trust. It is a very exciting thing to “leave all for Christ.” This last week watching her living that current excitement brought all those feelings back for me, which is great for my work going forward. There is no reason it should feel “same old” to me now almost two decades later. It just gets better and better, and there is always more to learn and demonstrate. Our common trajectory, coming from knowing nothing about Christian Science, to embracing it so fully as the blessing it is, and to then grow into prioritizing it above all else, felt mutually reinforcing. I am delighted to say I am returning to my practice with renewed vigor.
- She was furthermore a major proponent of reading Mary Baker Eddy’s works together with a reading buddy to discuss them with, and this is something I have proposed doing going forward. We’ll see how that pans out, but I see lots of potential for blessing there as well.
- I loved the improvisational voice teacher. Because of her approach and an awesome concert she gave, a friend noted to me that it occurred to her that prayer is actually an improvisation. There is no formula (including that first bullet point above!) to prayer. You listen, connect, and respond, in the moment. I extrapolated that idea further to see improvisation in all that I do. My Christian Science practice, my art, poetry, parenting, prayer, cooking, all that I do can be seen as improvisation. I never thought of it that way before. I go where the inspiration leads– God directed– trusting the outcome to God. It is freeing, fun, and authentic.
- Often at Creative Arts Camp I have been more vocal than I was this year, giving testimonies, sharing inspiration, or offering advice. This year, I listened much more and was rather quiet. Maybe it is because of this blog that I already feel like I’ve put myself out there, and wanted to balance that one-sided feeling by hearing more from everyone else. I focused more on loving instead; I was there to give rather than to receive, and maybe that is why it felt like such a holy, blessed time. These people were so easy to love!
- The last verse of Hymn 30 that we sang on the last day summed up my sentiments well: “Thou to whose power our hope we give, / Free us from human strife./ Fed by Thy love divine we live, / For Love alone is Life; / And life most sweet, as heart to heart, / Speaks kindly when we meet and part.”
- Thank you God for this place and people and for the occasion to be together. Thank you for the wonderful weather, as well as the ideas and tender solicitude we shared. Thank you for a great time full of growth and progress.