Yesterday morning, Maria sat next to me while I filled out an application for her to attend summer camp at Wonderful, Wonderful, Camp McDowell. Earlier in the week, I’d had a great conversation with the director of Special Session at McDowell , a camp program for people with varying abilities. Although her behavior will need to continue to be stable, and she’ll certainly need to keep her little self out of the Psych Unit, if all works right, Maria will come here for summer camp in June.
Camp McDowell has been the heart of life in the Diocese of Alabama for decades—when we lived here in the late 80’s, I heard a lot about it and resisted going to McDowell on principle—anything mainstream Episcopalians in Alabama liked was suspect to this angular, combative person who wanted nothing more to do with the church. We left and the mission and focus of McDowell continued to expand and become more generous. It hosts the Alabama Folk School now, has an amazing working farm and programs on environmental stewardship. Then, Kee Sloan, our current Diocesan, became a bishop after years and years ministering with tenderness and insight to special needs folks. On his watch, a few years ago, McDowell made the circle even bigger, more bold and generous, so it now holds space in a new area, Bethany Village, where all kinds of people with special challenges have a place to play and experience Sabbath and community at its best.
That’s why Maria will, God willing, be there in June. In July, it looks like I may get to serve as chaplain for another program, Bethany’s Kids Camp, which is brings together special needs children in elementary school, with ‘mainstream’ children and together, they get to have camp like camp’s supposed to be—filled with laughter, mosquitos, new friends, funny songs, swimming, canoeing, a little bit of homesickness and grace.
I am tired of wringing my hands and getting into a lather over each worrisome bit of news that comes from Washington. I am doing what I can (which isn’t a whole lot) to let my elected leaders know where I stand on the issues. I’ve taken off work for Maria’s visit; these days at home with our beautiful girl, I am being reminded of the urgency of working with, and supporting the people and community efforts where even the most vulnerable have a place at the table. It’s in those places I find my humanity stretched, and I hope, formed more truly in the image of the One who created us.