Holiness in our Midst: Session 62

Holiness in our Midst


Did you ever come away from a week at camp with significant life experiences or new understandings?

For myself, I can trace back to a week at church camp three new understandings about God and my place in the world. Each one built upon the others. I was 12 the summer that the boys and girls from my church, Highland Park Presbyterian in Des Moines, convened at the YMCA Camp in Boone. My first new understanding was that the world belongs to God not me. That meant: God invited me into this world; I didn’t just happen. I can trace this learning back to the hymn that was our theme. The words to “This is My Father’s World” were printed on signs, line by line, along the main trail. Amid the old-growth beauty of the camp, I believed into my being these words:

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears

All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,

The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.

This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought

Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;

His hand the wonders wrought.

My second understanding came at the closing bonfire, in which we gave our whole selves and lives to Jesus. This was preceded by a dramatic ceremonial burning of pieces of paper in which we had written our failures and sins. We were to be given a fresh start in our new lives! Having just come into consciousness about it being God’s world, I added the thought: that I was brought into this scene for purpose. And I had just asked to be connected to that purpose!

My third understanding came from being given “Quiet Time,” something new to me. Our recently-blended family left me sleeping in a bedroom with two sisters. I lived in a crowded house without my own space. At camp, we were asked to go out in the woods and be alone with our Bible and nature and, the counselor said, to be alone with God! Before I would learn to hear Him as an “inner voice,” I began experiencing Him in the natural world, as I read these words along the trail:

This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair:

In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;

He speaks to me everywhere.

I took away a lot from church camp. The God who had created the Heavens had invited me to be on Earth. I had asked Him to reveal His purpose and believed He would. And through the practice of Quiet Time, I was convinced He was know-able on a personal level. It was heady stuff for a pre-teen! My spiritual formation began there in the woods. It continues (with less sexist language, of course!) but with the same basics at the core that I brought back along with my craft projects and sunburn.

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: Recall significant life experiences or new understandings from camp.


  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Write about what you brought home from a stay at camp. Was it a significant life experience? New understandings? Where was the camp? How old were you? Are you influenced still by camp memories or learnings? How?


  1.   Read aloud Session LXII.  
  2.   Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt.   

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: Holiness in Our MidstSharing Our Stories to Encourage and Heal is a monthly on-line feature created by Janis Pyle to facilitate sharing of our personal experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and spiritual practices with one another, especially through stories. Barriers are broken down when we begin to see all persons, even those with whom we disagree ideologically, as sacred and constantly attended to by a loving Creator. Each column is accompanied by a “story circle” prompt and study guides for personal and group reflection. To share your stories, contact Hannah Button-Harrison at communications@nplains.org. Janis Pyle can be reached at janispyle@yahoo.com.

No comments yet

Comments are closed