This past weekend I went to camp with the great group of kids in this picture. We had to take the picture indoors because it was pouring down rain outside as we prepared for departure. Then, we traveled by van to a nearby town where, in the still-pouring rain, we moved ourselves and our stuff to their bus so we could travel together.
After driving for a bit over an hour, we arrived at camp where it was still raining. We checked in, carried our stuff through the pouring rain to our cabins, considered if we were dry enough to go on without changing, and headed back to the gathering spot for opening worship and fun and games.
It was FUN! And as the rain continued to fall through the evening, the night and the morning, we continued to have fun. By early afternoon we had stopped noticing that it was raining and that we were wet. The rain ceased to be a factor in the experience.
I've been musing about why the kids were so mellow about the rain. I'm sure the counselors were sick of the rain, but they never mentioned it except to point out that a place might be slick, or that a camper should put on a jacket. Our counselors just kept on showing love and joy and patience and kindness and peace and goodness to the campers. The rain simply wasn't a factor.
What if, when the young people of our church came through our doors, they were so immersed in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and goodness that the stress and the pain of ordinary life stopped being a factor? What if everyone spoke to them kindly and respectfully as if they were peers? How would they respond? How would they treat others?
I can't predict with absolute certainty but I can report that on our travels back from camp we had no bickering, no complaining, and lots of happy singing and laughter. When asked if they wanted to go back another time there was a unanimous YES! And when they got off the van there were lots and lots of hugs.
This might just work on adults as well; after all, who doesn't like to be treated with respect and to have love and kindness poured out on them? It might take a bit more time for the grown-ups. They have a lot more defenses to wash off before the love can get through, but love is pretty strong!
I wonder where I can get a barrel of this stuff . . .