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“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
1 Corinthians 13:11-12 NRSV
“Focus . . .”
by Rev. Rick Pittenger
Paul’s words were used at the wedding I had on the Yankton Bridge at Sunset on Saturday night, July 25th. I got to thinking about “those childish ways." What if that’s the way we should be when it comes to our FAITH… CHILDISH… but instead, we ended that childlike innocence of trust and true joy? Maybe that’s NOT always a good thing.
By the time most of you read this article I’ll be Co-Deaning a Camp at our United Methodist Camp in the Hills, Storm Mountain Camp. Last February, I think it was, Russ, Leslie, and I had taken our youth group out to Storm Mountain for a getaway trip. While there, I was approached by the Camp Director Scott Jensen who invited us to lead the camp in the hills. It’s called “FOCUS”… he and I laughed and immediately thought what many of you are thinking… you’re asking Rick to lead a camp called “FOCUS”… “it’ll never work." Ah, but he tricked me… you see, it’s not an A.D.D. Camp; it’s a photography camp. If you’re a friend of mine on Facebook (and even if you’re not) you may have seen one of the many posts of pictures I’ve taken from in and around Vermillion over the past four years. Scott began his “sales pitch” with a Liver Sandwich. What’s a liver sandwich got to do with camp? It’s a psychological bait and switch. Here’s the premise. Everyone likes sandwiches; it starts with a piece of bread. “You really take some great pictures… you like taking pictures right?” Yes! Then comes the liver… “I want you to lead a camp about photography!”… What!? “It’s perfect for you, it’s very laid-back “hey hey hey”, all you have to do is let them take pictures… every night you look at the pictures and critique them.” (another piece of liver)… Closing with another piece of bread; “All in the beauty of the Black Hills.” That’s quite a bit to chew on, eh?
So, I agreed, but only if I had some help. Thankfully, both Leslie and Russ agreed to join me in my quest. I’m looking forward to it; really I am.
After having returned from Lake Poinsett only a couple of weeks ago, a counselor at that camp after posting a picture I had taken of all of us at camp stated: “Believe it or not, I miss waking up to all these people every day!”
At that camp we were blessed with some young people originally from Thailand whose families moved to Huron, SD. Their first language is called Karen. They were refugees that resettled in the US, and one of the young men is a tree climber. He could climb anything, especially the huge cottonwood trees there at the camp. I can’t imagine his view when he was 40 or 50 feet in those big old cottonwoods. They were large trees when I attended camp there about 45 years ago. The young people from Thailand friended me at camp and they seemed to enjoy my lame attempt at learning their language - especially the words to get the young man out of those trees!
After the camp, I posted a lot of the pictures I took during the week on Facebook. One of the girls I met clicked like on all 250+ pictures… almost all of them, including an out of focus picture of a ketchup bottle at our closing campfire meal. It taught me something about photography; even an out of focus picture can jar our memories. I’ll always remember that campfire, those new friends and old, all the youth cooking and eating; clapping and singing, laughing and sharing. The reality is, “that’s the church!" Oh we’re sometimes a blur, sometimes in focus, sometimes hyper-focused. However the view, whatever the angle - focused or blurry - we ARE the church.