Saturday, July 21, 2012

Searching in the Spirit 2012: Pentecost Revisited

From July 3rd to 7th, I was one of the chaperones at an archdiocesan camp called Searching in the Spirit. Created for Gr. 7 students who had just been confirmed, the five day camp looked at the themes of Sacredness, Witness, Forgiveness, Servitude, and One Body in order that the 65 Gr. 7s could more
readily invite the Holy Spirit into their lives. For the past five years that I have been involved in the program, it has been - without a doubt - the best week of my summer. It is a perfect example of how vibrant and alive the Church is. From the Gr. 7 students, to the 14 person youth/young adult leadership team (who organizes and runs the entire program!), to adult chaperones, and to priests, Searching in the Spirit demonstrates that the Church truly is one Body in Christ. Prayer, fellowship, laughs, meals, mass, confession, adoration...all mixed in with the typical summer camp activities like archery and kayaking.

It's always bittersweet for me to leave Searching in the Spirit. You form real relationships with the people at camp - and then you have to go home.  I felt quite lonely as I threw my bag on the ground when I got home that Saturday afternoon. I'm still not completely over my post-camp withdrawal, and I found myself thinking throughout the days that followed camp, "Oh, we'd be doing crafts now," or "we'd be starting the evening workshop now." It's funny though - I'm sure this is how the Apostles felt while waiting for Jesus' promise of the Advocate to be fulfilled at Pentecost.

Human beings are both spiritual and corporeal beings - "embodied spirits," as Blessed Pope John Paul II would say. But we put too much emphasis on the physical. Even at Searching in the Spirit, it was much easier to first react to the physical differences in our lives for those five days, even though we did have daily mass and lots of prayer time. We were surrounded by people at every moment of the day. We were on a beautiful campsite, surrounded by the beauty of nature. We didn't have cellphones or computers to plug into, and we were kept busy with outdoor activities and games. Yes, all of this was a means to form true, Christian relationships with those around us, and yes, our spirits were influenced throughout the week, but the first point of contact was always the physical.
The Searching in the Spirit 2012 Leadership Team

If there is anything to learn from the Acts of the Apostles, it's that the physical needs to make way for the more important interior change (and sometimes, the interior struggle), which the physical change is only a catalyst for. The Apostles were ecstatic to have Jesus back with them after His Resurrection...and then He ascended to Heaven. Jesus physically left them - and the Apostles panicked. How often do we do that? How often do we leave a place or a person and become sad? Searching in the Spirit was an amazing time, but if it ends there, then it was all for moot. The amazing time at camp - the amazing physical time at any place - is always supposed to make way for the greater spiritual fruits that come when you realize to that which this natural world is pointing.

The Apostles were fortunate enough to have that panic and that cowardice taken away from them on Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit filled them with the courage and the love to spread the Gospel. Having come back from camp, sometimes I'll sit in my room and think a bit like the Apostles, feeling a bit incomplete because I don't have the physical experience to accompany me into battle. But the amazing thing is that for all of us baptized and confirmed, we already have the ame Holy Spirit dwelling in us! He is just waiting so desperately for us to let Him invigorate us and move us out of that Upper Room.

So here I am - and from talks with other people at that camp, so are they - at a point where we have been empowered with a moving physical experience, which needs to fully translate into our personal spiritual lives. We need to take the laughs from the talent show, the tears of relief from Reconciliation, the excitement from singing songs, and the discussions from workshops and allow God to use them to make us new. If we can do that, then we won't look at the fact that Searching in the Spirit (or any event for that matter) is over with any amount regret or sadness, but with 100% happiness, peace, and gratitude that it happened, so that God would be able to push us into the next level of peace and Love.
The next generation of Apostles.

No comments:

Post a Comment