I have been spending much of my time this summer at our church camp. Maybe I am trying to make up for lost time but I cannot explain the sense of peace I feel when I am there. It is as if the world has stood still when you drive through those gates. My world has been turned upside down so many times and I have had to find my footing again and again but when I go to this place I find that there are some things in life that you can count on and many people too.
As I have walked the hills and paths of Whitehall Camp this summer I have tried to put into words in my head the spell it holds over me and so many others. I have tried to look at it as if I am seeing it for the first time. Tried to imagine what it must look like to a newcomer.
I see the rows of cabins and think that maybe someone else may see a bunch of run down buildings that should be torn down because they are a fire hazard (which they are). But I see the porches that I sat on with my friends and shared my secrets and dreams and formed bonds that have lasted a lifetime. I see the cabin that my family stayed in and the many funny moments we still laugh about together.
I see the campers in all shapes and sizes and I think about the campfires that we sat at and sang and prayed together. The decisions that were made around those campfires have literally changed my life and made me who I am today.
I see the buildings like Pioneer Hall, the Barn, the Missionary Cottage, and the tabernacle and I know they must look like ordinary buildings but to me they represent a rich heritage. People have worshipped and been changed forever in those buildings for over one hundred fifteen years. I feel a part of something so big and it is an honor to carry on the traditions.
And the view!! There is no way anyone can stand at the top of the hill looking down at the lake and not know that they are standing on holy ground! Even the sounds of the trucks on route 80 in the background cannot dim the song I feel in my heart as I realize that the God who created those mountains in front of me loves me so very much.
As I looked around and tried so very hard to put my feelings into words I realized that there are no words to describe this place and what it has meant to so many people for so many years.
How do you explain the place that as a child I gave my heart to Jesus and rededicated my life to Him for real as a young lady?
How do I describe the place where I came running to for refuge after a rough time as a young adult and looked into the eyes of my future husband and knew I was home again?
How can I make people understand how I feel when I stand in the gazebo and remember the night my husband proposed to me?
Or how can I even help people imagine the peace I felt when I carried my precious Emma up to the alters as a baby and heard the prayers of so many friends lifted up on her behalf? And how nine years later I found that peace once again when I went to that sacred place to mourn her death?
How do I explain the joy of celebrating almost all of Allie's birthdays at this very special place with so many of our friends and family?
Most recently, Dean and I dedicated our Anna Grace to God there. How do you put that into words?
No, there are no words to truly capture the essence of this place. All I can say is that I am so very grateful that it has been a part of my life for so long. This is the place that holds my memories, my dreams, my hopes, my secret prayers.
There have been so many times in my life when I have lost myself to the world. The world strips away the heart of me and I find myself wandering once again. Searching for peace. And then I come back to this place and the world becomes strangely dim as I close my eyes and listen to the gentle whisper of my Savior. Breathing life into my tired and weary soul and reminding me of who I am in Him.
This is the reason I will make sure that my children are a part of the story of Whitehall Camp. Their memories will be filled with images of this place just as mine are. I will share with them this place that to me is just a little taste of what Heaven must be...