What a magical week in summer 2015! Twelve young people arrived at camp full of anticipation and energy, to live together in community and experience God’s love. They came with hurts and worries, joys and happinesses. They arrived with sleeping bags and overnight sacks to live in nature and fellowship with other young people. They took a risk, not knowing who would be there or what to expect. They came from very different lives and places. They took a chance….because they are kids, with fresh, open minds, eager to experience the world!
As in all our camps, amazing counselors were in place to guide these young people through the week. They also were from a variety of cultures and experiences.
What was truly remarkable about this week, was what the young people taught to those of us who watched, listened and observed.
This June week with 6 Niimiipuu children and 6 Caucasian children was magical. The children were the teachers. It didn’t matter that the homesick girl was white, all the children prayed for her to feel better. It didn’t matter the color of the skin or the place they lived, or the food they ate, or the way they spoke….all that mattered was having fun and seeing God in everything around them. There were no stilted awkward feelings because of color or culture or differences. All I witnessed was love. And it was glorious.
Why can’t grown-ups be more like children? Why can’t we see “differences” as new and exciting and interesting? And why can’t we open our hearts to see our similarities? Why can’t mixed cultures of adults play Gaga ball together and laugh and scream hysterically? Why can’t we eat together, ride horses together, pray together, sing together, laugh and cry together?
Why do grown-ups find it so hard to say sorry, yet we teach our children to say sorry?
United Methodists want to figure out how to repent, how to reconcile, how to ask forgiveness from our Native American brothers and sisters. Look to the children at camp. They modeled how it can be done. They stood beside each other because they knew they were children of God, each created special. They treated each other with love and respect. The children brought no stereotypes, prejudices, or judgements.
They didn’t need adult instruction on “how to get along” or “how to talk to someone who looked different than them” or the “right things to say” because, they had the innocent hearts of young people who have not yet been taught to hate and judge.
We as United Methodists and as Children of God, need to ask forgiveness for the injustices done to our Native American brothers and Sisters and we need to continue to fight for justice for our Native American brothers and sisters.
Wallowa Lake United Methodist Camp, summer homeland of the Niimiipuu, is a sacred place of reconciliation between Niimiipuu and Caucasians. We are so honored to learn from our Native American friends … and we continue to learn as they bless us with un-deserved mercy and forgiveness.
We are committed to continuing the reconciliation process with the Niimiipuu and to continue to build relationships with all of God’s children.
We need to learn to get outside and play and pray together… like children, so all the weeks of our lives will be magical!