Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Vikings, Listening to Others, and Pop Songs About Locally-grown Vegetables




During every lunch hour last week, I became a Viking. This wasn’t some figurative transformation, mind you. Daily, I donned a horned (bike) helmet, carefully applied a vaguely threatening mustachio, put on a frayed-edged cape, and even carried a broadsword (albeit plastic) across my back. Two others joined me, one speaking with a New Zealand accent and Viking horns duct-taped to his baseball cap while the other, naturally bearded, wore them atop his sombrero. There wasn’t any discontinuity within these combinations – as we told the kids, “It’s not where you’re from that makes you a Viking; it’s what in your heart.”
Monday through Friday, we strode into the midst of hundreds of children, all of who cheered and clapped to see us. There were rousing, gruff-voiced renditions of current pop radio favorites (complete with coordinated dance moves), the lyrics of Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj altered significantly in order to focus entirely upon the delights and history of the foods we were about to eat. Children and adults sang and shouted along, laughing out loud and dancing around the room before tucking into their meals with gusto. Even now, bursts of the choruses I’d rewritten can be heard being sung by kids and grown-ups as they go about their activities. Food, its local source, its production, and its history were discussed, explored, and sang about.  When you’re a chaplain at a summer camp whose culinary emphasis is avoiding anything containing corn syrup and artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors in favor of free-range meat, naturally-raised fruit, and vegetables grown on the attached organic farm, this is simply the kind of thing you do to get the kids engaged with attentive, sustainable agriculture and Creation care.
This summer’s field education placement hasn’t just freed me into creative engagement with storytelling, drama, and the arts for the purposes of ministry; instead, it’s reminded my heart of why it is that I’ve pursued any number of vocations in the past. Rock concert promoter, touring band management, tour pastor for an internationally known punk rock band, freelance illustrator and graphic designer working in the entertainment industry, and professional clinical counselor focusing therapeutically on at-risk children, adolescents, and their families – I entered all of these professions simply because I love living life with normal, wounded, and broken people through the arts and creative culture, walking with them toward healing, forgiveness, and wholeness.  This love is being echoed and renewed with me at Camp Chestnut Ridge.
As I’ve danced, sang, prayed with, taught, and ministered to children and young adults at camp, I’ve been reminded of the need to truly, actively listen, spending the necessary time with the people who need it in order that they might know that they are worth spending time with.  Fellow chaplains, long-time camp staff, college-aged counselors from throughout North Carolina and around the world, and even the famed Dancing Man of Carrboro – these are the people with whom Jesus is allowing me to laugh with and listen to, building relationships with them while the Holy Spirit strips away my fears and insecurities.  It doesn’t matter whether I seem like a cool guy or not; rather, it’s about watching for the doorways the Lord provides, entering into the lives and realities of God’s people through story, agriculture, conversation, laughter, prayer, and song.
I’m having the time of my life.

1 comment:

bill said...

adam, i am just sorry the viking never made his appearance at appleseed. i hope you will keep the blogs coming so i can share in the joy of all God is doing through His/your strange and wonderful ways! yours in Jesus's strong and creative healing love, bill