Monday, August 12, 2019

Mowana Closing, August 8-12, 2019

Reflections on Sunday Morning 11 August 2019   -  Dawn and Richard Stewart

Chapel Reflections for Mowana closing
For every beginning there is an ending and every ending a beginning.
Fields invaded by a simple flat blade, moved forward and back,             creating a space for planted pine seedlings to grow and to grow, becoming                             A forest with a pine needle carpet nurturing a new forest -- hardwoods          replacing the tall pines.
            Children growing  into adolescence and then adulthood-- Some finding life partners here, Some even marrying before this altar.  New families growing..-. Children, grandchildren,                    maybe even great grandchildren filling these benches.
            Traditional hymns and spirituals giving way to folk, folk to praise and contemporary          Christian music, to jazz.
Sitting together watching the light of burning candles fade  - at the end of a week or the end of a season, is a bitter sweet reminder of beginnings and endings.

Smaller rhythms of continuity flow through and in daily/weekly/seasonal routines, ongoing traditions and rituals that ground life together and nurture the spirit:
            Time to draw together in play, conversation, shared tasks.
            Smaller groups-- gathering into one -  for a time, -- then dispersing again into many.
Oh for the love of Space to find and be one’s self; --and - the satisfaction of joining others to create a cooperative team.  
Space for energetic activity and boisterous play. --- Time to slow the pace to experience and practice stillness and silence.
            Space and time-- for exploring, imagining, creating, wondering.
Time for telling stories – with the Freedom for listening to the narratives that connect us.

This is a sheep-fold for the flock the Good Shepherd. The week begins here in this corral of safety where the Good Shepherd gathers us together and promising to guard and nurture all; a place of welcome and sanctuary for all.  The world away, may be or feel chaotic and dangerous.  Here we remember the blessings of the day, safe travel, new circles of friends
The week, - ends here together,
                   carrying the light of Christ into the Night,
                             by trails and bridges, to cabins, to bunks and candles out—
                                      The blessings of the week.
                                                embedded in our hearts to carry home.
We Gather in this space for one purpose---to come close to God, as individuals and as a people.
This Chapel is the place where we bring  - all we are  - all we experience:
            Our individual stories,
                   Our communal Stories - the new stories we create in being together
                  Older stories of the people of God; woven together as one tapestry.
God’s presence welcomes and  holds:
            joy and celebration,
                             uncertainty and doubt, gratitude and need,
                                      with room for everything and everybody –
                                                the sky truly is the Limit…
A simple place, - Rarely fully cleaned of wax on the posts or ferns tended and groomed for guests.  It has been our gracious welcoming sanctuary shared by generations of campers, counselors and chaplains.  Did we find it important to share this space and our reflections without families? Or did we keep it as a personal treasure? 
In this place where connectedness to God, to others, to creation, and to ourselves has been nurtured, we ,--even while questioning our skills and ability, -- We are well equipped to continue the task of blessing others with the gifts we have received.  For we learned this will always be a place about beginnings and endings -- the ONE who IS the beginning and ending and the creator of new beginnings. 

Mowana 75th Anniversary Reflections from 2016

Words from a Septuagenarian

To the west of the great rivers that watered the Lenape’s and the Susquehannocks, and west of many bands of the Six Nation, lay a land for many moons supported the lives of the Shawnee, the Piqua, and the Miami. With time the land and the legacy were remembered and sometimes cherished by settlers from across the Great Pond.  Some came to share this land with their barns and their cows.  Some even learned to swim in the dammed creek just down the hill.  For many moons, young and old came to this land to appropriate for a week a culture that was only read about in books or shared the traditional way by story.

Many of us remember with mixed clarity the Legend of Mowana.  It was an oral history that was not our own, but one that became ours through repetition.  In the original story the prize was the continuation of leadership for the tribe that was rumored to have lived on this land.  The challenge was extremely simple, ‘Bring the council of elders a token of your journey’s end.”  The story sends out three braves and our legend has it that significant time passes before Nakado returns first.

The swiftest returns after a cycle of seasons and shares “I have seen the wonders of nature.” He asks the question? “is it not beautiful?”  He was reminded by the elders, that Beauty lies in deeds well done.  Beauty lies also at the Journey’s end. The unspoken question was how much farther could he have gone.

After a significant period of time worry began to set in as the two braves did not appear, but eventually Wowassa did return late one evening.  Proudly he bore to the elders his two bronzed hands that were filled with nuggets of Gold.  He reported that at great distance there were great dangers, but equally important there were great rewards of wealth. The elders in their wisdom reminded the brave that wealth lies beyond the touch of the hand.  They asked him why he had stopped there?

The wait grew even longer as the seasons changed.  There was worry that the challenge had been too rigorous. Questions were raised about his strength, his craftiness with wild life, his stamina as the seasons changed.   Yet tired and weary, a well bronzed Mowana did return and the elders wondered about the great weight he seemed be carrying in his hands.  When opened the hands were empty.  Then Mowana spoke, “O Great Chief, where I stood there was nothing to bring. But, O Chief, where I stood I could see the fertile valley where our tribe may live in peace and safety for many years.”

The elders made space for the new tribal leader “The One who seeks” Mowana.

Gathered here for this diamond anniversary, each of us has been on our own journeys and quests, away from this place which nurtured many of us from grade school through college.  We gather in this evening with candle light to give thanks for a return from each of our journeys. We gather to share our report with the gathered elders and colleagues that we know and the colleagues that have followed in the traditions of being seekers.

Spiritual Styles  Ways that People naturally come close to God.
But in many ways we are here to affirm that the tradition have meaning for a new day.  It is here that we learned and experimented with Spiritual styles, for those who led us here found ways to come close to God in a natural way.  We found spaces to experiment with our own spiritual quest – to find our own way to come closer to our Supreme Being to God.

Intellectual Books , Study Conversation
On occasion we found some new learning in Discovery Group, or as staff in a Book we read on the cabin steps, while the campers were supposedly having rest period.  Or more communally in conversations about love and live with pastors and people about the important issues in our lives at the moment.

Emotional Connection, sometimes happens through worship music, drama
This is a place where emotions could easily come to the surface. I remember Mission kids who came in the first week of camp who feared sleeping in cabins, let alone tents, were afraid of bugs and snakes (even in glass cages) or even the water in the pool - but on the final day would run through the creek to keep from having to get on the bus to go home. Emotional connections were made here along with memories – of songs, worship, drama and friends – sometimes for life…

Mystical connection. == preference of some introverts,,== happens  in big space, outdoors,  wordless experience and/or connection.  Nature
As an introvert many of my mystical connections were kept secret like in cleaning and closing up the cabins after the season.  Or Coming back for a Luther League event in the fall or winter, Or just wandering the trails alone.  Or the memories of how and why this place [and its people] have meant so much to each of us in our own way.  These are wordless connections with both God and nature and our fellow travelers on life’s adventures.

Service to Others – Being engage with others
IT is here that we engage with others in thoughts, words and deeds.  We as Staff, provided service and safety for those entrusted to our care.  We engaged with others who learned to serve, and this left this place to serve others in a wide variety of ways that still are important to our life and vitality.

We know that a Well Balanced Spriitual Life includes them all that has been shared, though we do have our preferences. For Mowana has been our incubator.  It has served that same function for numerous others who only came as campers  or on retreat.  Yet it has been and hopefully remains a place where the depth of who are , who we become, and who we hope to be is defined and shaped .  So that we continue to reflect our the great I AM  -- Our Spiritual Guide – Our Supreme God – Our God as we continue to be the ONES WHO SEEK. 

Continue to be our home…

Richard Stewart
Camper       54,55
Counselor   64-67
Married at Camp 1968
Family Camper in 70’s and 90’s
Seventy-Fifth Anniversary 2016