We showed up at youth camp and eventually headed to our cabins to drop off our stuff. The sharp sounds emerged from the bathroom. Clearly there was something unusual in the bathroom. I went to check it out. There in the sink was a scorpion. It was alive and unhappy. It did not invite me to wash my hands. The first group of camp each summer literally has to work out lots of the bugs. The scorpion did not survive the encounter.

Later, I was leaving to come home when Cindy’s father passed away. As I was driving out of camp, a skunk was also walking toward the exit. We patrolled him as he scuttled along in the grass. He did not seem to notice. Then it dissapeared into the zipline tower.

Each morning I was at camp I would go for a walk. The thing that I hate the most is that I would come back covered with spider webs. They were everywhere and I they made my skin crawl. After months of only weekend interest, the camp is open almost every day for the summer and the animals and insects will have to make adjustments if they intend to survive.

Clearing away the cobwebs and underbrush is what is necessary to do the spiritual work of renewal. It is what makes lots of growth possible. The wilderness has been the crucible of spiritual change from the beginning of time. It is there that we take the steps to unpack and unwind from our normal pathways and try on new ways of living. I have been attending church summer camp yearly since 1978 and each year is does me good.

This year was different from all the other years. I went as we moved my father-in-law to hospice care. I left and returned home after he died. I drove bak to camp from the graveside service. I came back from camp after the last night of camp and then prepared for the memorial service. Camp was a beautiful oasis in the middle of that stress. It was calm and quiet and beautiful. I was thankful for the retreat in the middle of the chaos.