This past weekend I had the opportunity to walk on the beach several times. With each walk came the opportunity to make new tracks in the sand rather than simply following the same path. I enjoyed the feeling of a clean “slate” with each new day.
On my last morning of walking I was out before the sun on a very foggy morning. Using my flashlight for the early part of the walk allowed me to avoid accidentally venturing into the surf, and I experienced the wonder of seeing the droplets of water in my light, even though I could not feel them. As I walked the outward part of my journey, it was reassuring to know that I had a flashlight should I need it on my way back to the vacation house.
On much of my walk I was able to turn off the flashlight while on the beach. The sound of the crashing waves along with the foggy vision made for a different sensory experience than on my normal walks back at home. On my return trip there were times when my tracks disappeared, which had me thinking about the possibility of missing my turn up to the house from the beach. These fleeting thoughts moved on quickly as I rediscovered my tracks in the sand.
I found comfort in following my tracks back toward the house. In the spots where the sand was really compacted (the hard-packed sand is actually considered a “state highway” on that part of the Washington coast), it is easy to lose sight of the tracks, but in the softer and more difficult loose sand, the trail was easily seen.
The path from the beach to the house was marked with a green float mounted on a stick, but at that time of day and with the foggy conditions, it was not visible from the place on the beach where I was walking. So once again I was grateful for my tracks in the soft sand, guiding me back.
What are the tracks that you retrace in your life? What are the markers that help guide you home? Where do these fit in with your spiritual journey? And what role does Camp and Retreat Ministries play in the process? If you have responses to these questions that you are willing to share with me, please send me a note.
See you on the adventure ahead,
Rev. Todd Bartlett
Executive Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries
*PHOTO: Top: Trail marker at the Alton L. Collins Retreat Center
Bottom: A buoy marks the trail in the fog near Long Beach, WA (Todd Bartlett).
Camp & Retreat Ministries was featured in a Greater Northwest Area news story last week as an example of how to successfully and safely minister to children during the covid-19 pandemic. Oregon-Idaho's communications manager, Kristen Caldwell, quotes both Todd Bartlett and Alan Rogstad (camp & retreat director for the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference) in her article. Read the story here.
The Rev. Debbie Pitney, retired elder and huge camp supporter, gave a sermon many years ago (before the prevalence of credit cards) in which she noted that anyone who looked through her checkbook register would see at a glance what's important to her. The way we spend our money creates a marked trail through our values. Is camp and retreat ministry important to you? When you click that green button below to make a donation, you're creating a marker that others can follow as they look for the Way of Jesus.