We can feel the anticipation growing here around Crystal Lake – the weather has warmed up, everything is in bloom, and we’ve even been for a few swims in the lake. On top of that, projects around the camp property are already making things look more summer-like. It’s a beautiful time of year here as the leaves come out, the grass begins to grow, and the birds come out to sing.
There is no better preparation for summer camp than our metaphysical work. We have chosen the following line from Science and Health for our 2015 metaphysical theme:
It’s really an interesting concept to consider, as Mrs. Eddy is telling us that it is the activity that pushes us to be more loving that receives divine power. So in very real terms, our primary goal at CLC this summer is to provide opportunities to prove that Love is present and actively participating in each camper and staff member’s daily activities and life. While we will continue to have swim classes, horseback riding lessons, backpacking trips, barn dances, luau night by the lake, Vespers, meals, the free time in the cabin with your friends, or Kapers – each activity is an opportunity to express love even more. Whenever we are tempted to focus on procedures or functionality, that is the moment for us to stop and love more.
It is not always easy, because at times we like (from a human standpoint) to get focused and caught up in the “where and how” of a thing, which leads us down a path that ultimately will not be particularly constructive. But by taking those moments instead to focus on the “why” – and the answer to “why” should always be “to love more” – then we will be focused on God and His activity, and on our expression of that activity as a child of God.
Recently, I was reminded of the power of this truth while working with my dog, Lila. She began exhibiting a behavior that I didn’t want her to be doing, and my attempts to curb it went without any meaningful result. I tried bribing her with treats and food; I tried to coerce her away when I could see she was beginning to do it; and I even tried startling her by spraying her with water, as a way to create some sort of negative connotation in her mind. But all of those efforts failed. And why? Ultimately, I learned it was because I wasn’t doing it out of love – I was doing so out of a sense of will. I wanted her to stop doing this thing because I just didn’t like it.
After a few weeks of failure, I initially just resigned to coping with it, but that didn’t feel principled, because ultimately, this wasn’t a good behavior for her to do. By this time, I had been thinking and praying with the camp theme for the programs, so I thought I’d give the love angle a try with her, too. And, wouldn’t you know it? It worked on the very first attempt. One day, I saw her start this behavior, and I went outside where she could see me, and I verbally just expressed how much I loved her. This winter, as I’d been struggling with a few different issues, she had been right there by my side, showing me affection and care and just being with me. So in that moment, I expressed to her how much I loved her, how grateful I was for all her expressions of love, and just simply loved her. In thought and spirit, I just loved her. Not for any particular reason, but just because she existed.
And, wouldn’t you know it? She stopped that behavioral issue right then and there. She had been slowly trotting away from me to do this thing, and then just sort of curved back around and came to me. I never called her specifically, I had just been loving. And there she was, loving me right back.
This demonstration taught me a few things, which I am excited to put into practice this summer for myself, and to work on with the campers and staff, too:
- We love each other because we exist, not because of any particular “attraction” or other reason.
- It takes diligence and perseverance to love, because we need to work out any “kinks,” or reasons (will, justification, ego), that prevent us from seeing love demonstrated.
- Love comes with Principle; they are inextricably linked. Giving up on a task or another person because I, or the other person (or in this case, the dog), just “is that way,” or maybe “just isn’t wired that way” isn’t really principled, and therefore isn’t really loving. I had to understand that Lila wasn’t “that way” before she could stop.
- Loving = forgiven. As soon as Lila responded, I didn’t need to forgive her for all those failed attempts, because she demonstrated that she was, in fact, responsive. She demonstrated her understanding of what was being asked, and therefore the past (failed) attempts simply no longer entered into my concept of her behavior. In other words, the forgiving had already taken place!
I hope you can see how this experience can translate to the work of Crystal Lake this summer. The concept of unconditional love really is powerful, and will have so many opportunities to be shown and understood better, all summer long.
I hope you’ll join us in our advance metaphysical support of CLC, by also praying with our theme, and any additional ideas – those presented here, or those through your own individual study and inspiration! We would love to hear how you are praying, and you are welcome to leave any comments for others to consider here, in response to this post.
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