Christian Camps & Monasteries

teen-spiritual-program-15-4I remember so well the first time I stayed overnight in an Orthodox Christian monastery. I dreamed of every Christian camp and conference I had attended up to that point in my life, for they represented the highest and deepest of my spiritual experience. After just one day in the concentrated prayers of the monastic daily cycle, those previous experiences of prayer became as mere foretastes of reality. Continue reading

Cultural Camping

6:30am

I cannot believe it has taken our family this long to start camping seriously. It is such a close cousin to the dacha experience in Russia only without the growing of crops, for camping tends to be of much shorter duration than Dacha. Growing up with Asthma, I was rarely able to even go anywhere overnight in a tent. Now that I am older and less affected by allergies, I am making up for lost time in my contact with the natural world. Continue reading

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name,
And they’re always glad you came…

This theme song from the great American sit-com Cheers is more than an opening for a TV show. It is an expression for a nation overworked and undernourished by the food of community life. We all long for a place to rest where the familiar faces and time-honored routine settles around us like a warm, inviting bear hug. We long for such an experience and expect to find it in places like the church, but all too often our local church suffers from the same coldness and isolation as the world. Continue reading

The Calm of the Cape

Our first family camping trip brings us to Cape Cod at a state park near Brewster. Everything here on this 65 mile long sand bar is measured by relative distance to exit numbers off of the one highway that runs end to end. “Oh, it’s near exit 10, but I live near exit 7.” This miniature paradise feels cozy and at the same time expansive. With ocean on either side of the arm, it does not take long to drive or even walk to the nearest stretch of sand and salt water. At low tide, a person can disappear on the horizon, walking out onto the wet sand and wading into shallow tidal pools. Continue reading