4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water. (John 4:4-15, New International Version)
My favorite body of water at Wallowa Lake Camp is the small, gentle stream that runs across the road behind the kitchen. There you will find the youngest campers playing in the safe water of that placid stream. They float little boats made of twigs and pine cones. They splash each other and wade in above their ankles, soaking their sneakers as they discover the shiny pebbles placed there by the camp directors, surely filling their pockets with treasures to be found by their unsuspecting parents at laundry time! There is something about the life-giving water of that little creek that fills up my soul. And I believe we all need life-giving water in our lives.
Dr. Masaru Emoto, the author of the best-selling book, The Hidden Messages of Water, believed that human consciousness can effect the molecular structure of water. Through a variety of experiments, he would photograph water before and after prayer. The resulting photographs showed distorted molecules before prayer and beautiful crystals after. He would simply tape both positive and negative words on beakers of water and then photograph the molecules. Words like war and hate left ugly molecules while words like peace and love resulted in beautiful crystals. I can’t explain it, but I have seen the images.
Dr. Emoto wrote: “This is at the heart of what I do. I teach people that we change the subtle energies within and around us with every thought, action, and emotion. With negative thoughts and emotions, we put detrimental energies into our own being and into our living environments. Positive, joy-filled thoughts and emotions put beneficial energies into our beings and into our living environments. Most of us are unconsciously surrounding and filling ourselves with what we don’t want in our lives: what we fear and what makes us angry. Then we unwittingly attract what we don’t want in our lives. Once you understand this, you can take charge of the process. You can learn to use prayerful intent to put beneficial energies into your body… You can bless things with unique energies.”
During my last visit to Wallowa Lake Camp, we were treated to a wonderful thunderstorm that lasted all afternoon. We were soaked in God’s life-giving water. As we are faced with a world that seems to be coming apart on a daily basis with problems so many and so huge that they threaten to overwhelm us, we need God’s life-giving water every day. Camp is one of those places to be drenched by God’s Spirit.
Wallowa Lake Site Team and Camp Volunteer
*PHOTO: Shiny stones sparkle in the life-giving water that flows through Wallowa Lake Camp (David Lovegren).
The values of providing Christian hospitality and loving our neighbors inspire the ministries of United Methodist camps around the world. Our United Methodist Camp & Retreat siblings-in-Christ at Poušt United Methodist Camp, and four other UM sites in the Czech Republic have been living out these values by providing a home-away-from-home for families fleeing Ukraine during the Russian invasion. Read the story by UM News Service here.
Debbie Pitney, who wrote above about the life-giving power of even a small, gentle stream of water, dipped her hand into a shallow font about 30 years ago to baptize our oldest daughter with life-giving water. It was a cool, liquid, very tangible sign of the intangible mystery of God's love that the gathered community knew would be a guiding presence in that child's life forever. The rituals of camp--even the simplest ones like splashing in streams and discovering pebbles--also open to us a window into the presence of God's love in creation and in our lives.
Debbie also once told us, "Your checkbook can reveal what you value in life." We hope our checkbook shows our commitment to the transformative value of camp and retreat ministries. We also hope you share that commitment, and that you'll join us in supporting this ministry with a donation today.
~Todd and Laura Bartlett
*PHOTO: Water flows freely in Spring Creek at the Alton L. Collins Retreat Center (Todd Bartlett).