From Rev. Jeremy Albers
For the 4th of July break between camps, I decided not to do a mad dash to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to see family and friends. Since the move in May, I have been in summer camp mode and Annual Meeting mode. Needless to say, many items around the house were put on the back burner, leaving mounds of boxes and other items around and about and my potted plants did not make the “To Do List,” until this weekend.
Shifting focus to the outdoors has been therapeutic for me since I was a young kid. I spent hours in the backyard designing, creating, and building flowerbeds and living art. Retired women in the church also shared this love of gardening and connecting through nature. They would give me plants from their yard to plant at the parsonage. All I had to do was help them clean out their beds, weed, and thin their plants. As a twelve year old, I thought this was a deal! I got free plants out of it.
Over the years, the back yard of the parsonage continued to grow, change, and mature. Being present in this backyard was healing and restorative. My parents and I could not help but see the people behind the plants. Our yard became a symbol of the love, community, and presence of many people in our congregation. When my father finally accepted a call to a different church, it was everything that I could do not to want to dig up the entire backyard, which would have been a near impossible task for me, and move them all with me. So many of the people were no longer with us but remained in spirit in that parsonage back yard.
Walking around Slumber Falls Camp, I get that same sense of love, community, and presence. While not all of these sensations come from plants, I can feel it in the buildings, spaces, and friendships that form lasting relationships. Working on the director’s house this holiday and moving rocks, sticks, and other brush, I was reminded of an old German proverb, as is the gardener, so is the garden. With the completion of the new pool, the building of the new Bruce Cabin, road and parking lot resurfacing, and the cleaning up of the camp, I am excited and filled with an awe of how Slumber Falls will continue to serve the campers, participants, and congregations in the future. I am looking forward to seeing how the camp will transform to stay relevant to our churches. I am energized in the thought of new relationships and connections to this place that is a reflection of the church – past, present, and future. How will this garden we call Slumber Falls be shaped, as we, the God bearers unto this world, tend and care for this ministry? May our ministries enhance our witness to the gospel message and be a reflection of God’s light, love, and joy in the world.