Of Camp and Love

Our daughter, Lindsey, married Alex, the love of her life, this past weekend. The wedding took place at Camp Jorn, a 100-year-old YMCA camp located in the beautiful wilderness of northern Wisconsin. There the guests enjoyed four days of fun together over the long Labor Day weekend. The wedding was held in the outdoor chapel at the camp, a chapel that was more like a pine cathedral, with seating built into the side of a hill that allowed for a beautiful view of the lake. The fact that the sun was beginning to set during the ceremony only added to the splendor of the moment.

I was honored to be asked by Lindsey and Alex to share some words of reflection during the ceremony. So, given that it is still hard for me to think about anything other than the wedding even now, I would like to share a little bit of my reflection here.

I spoke about how a beautiful camp setting like Camp Jorn is a great metaphor for love and marriage in several ways. First, while every camp has a history that speaks of those who had the vision and commitment to start the camp, it is important to note that the beautiful, natural setting in which the camp resides is a gift from the Creator. The founders of a camp created a vision to protect the natural beauty, to put boundaries around it and preserve it, but there is no mistake that the magnificence of the natural beauty is God's doing. Love is like this, too. Love is a gift from the Creator, the source of all love. In a commitment like marriage we create a vision together, putting a boundary around the love that we have discovered in and through each other. At the same time, we promise to be stewards of the ongoing gift of that love.

Camp Jorn's long history, is a reminder that we are always dependent on the generosity of the generations before us and this serves as a metaphor as well for love and marriage. The founding members of Camp Jorn have passed on, and yet their spirit and vision continues to guide the camp. So it is with marriage. Each couple begins their life together as the recipients of generations of love and guidance. Some of those generations are still alive and are often present at a wedding, while others have passed on, but continue to be spiritually present. While receiving much from past generations, each generation, of course, needs to create a vision that is a fresh expression of all that they have received, one that has continuity with the past, but has an openness to creating a future that is uniquely their own.

Finally, if you talk with anyone who has enjoyed, or is currently enjoying the gift of being able to attend camp, you will hear them speak with great delight about what the experience means to them. Going to camp is not just about going to a place, but is as much about having an experience. Camp is where you can let down, relax, and feel free to be fully yourself. It is a place where you are not graded, judged, or evaluated. It is a place where you are accepted for who you are. You don't have to be "normal" at camp and you don't have to try and fit it. Camp brings out the best of who you are. Camp is thus truly re-creative for body and soul.

Is not all of this the perfect description for the ideals of what love and marriage can be as well? Ideally, love and marriage are where you go to experience the joy of being fully yourself. Ideally, in love and marriage, you are not graded, judged, or evaluated and you don't have to try to be "normal." Ideally, in love and marriage you are accepted for who you are and there is a commitment to bring out the best of who you are. Ideally, love and marriage are truly re-creative for those who involved.

Thanks for letting me share a bit of what we were blessed to experience this past weekend and how we connected our camp experience to the experience of being married. We all left camp inspired to live these ideals of love in all of our meaningful relationships--marriage, friendship, family, and community.