December 27 – Ordinary Joy
Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year? (Author: Brené Brown)
Perhaps the stories worthy of this post are the ones when ordinary moments turn extraordinary. Perhaps it was one like this one – when a simple activity, with all it’s clunkiness and even boring aspects becomes illuminated from within. It is a surprise. It is a unexpected gift. Perhaps it began with my saying yes to being the clergy person for family camp. You see, i never went to camp as a kid. But I spent summers on our sailboat, which was kindof like camp. And when the time came, for whatever reason, I decided that I didn’t really want to go, and instead I would go to sail camp and do the regular things that my friends out at the Lake would do.
So it was almost a little strange when the director of our nearby presbyterian camp asked me if I wanted to be the clergy person designated for the camp. I mean, I don’t really do camp. Many many of my colleagues in ministry went to Christian camp – but I did not. I don’t know all the cheesy camp songs, I don’t really know the ins and outs of campy worship. I just don’t have the experience of campy Christian life. But… on the other hand… I love TO camp. I love the outdoors, I love to hike and fish and backpack. And I love the ways in which my spiritual life is strengthened by my time in the woods. I love sleeping under the stars and having bonfires and all the things that camping brings. AND I love Jesus. So. What could be a better fit?The monkey wrench was that I was also going to bring my family along for the ride. Which was also a new component. The church I serve is rather formal and traditional, so often when I lead worship my kids are in the nursery or sunday school. If they are in the pews, it’s because it’s the Christmas Pageant or something special and kid-friendly. So having them present as I led bible studies or worship would be a juggling act certainly. And it was. It was a challenge – since my boys are busy and hard to contain (I am clearly not called to be a preschool age teacher) – but once we got the hang of it, it turned out alright.
So in the midst of this weekend, of family camp, came my ordinary moment of joy…the fish. The kids that had come for family camp were given the opportunity to choose what they wanted to spend thier free time doing over the course of our time together, and they had chose…fishing. We gathered by the lake near the swimming area with our counselors (who were amazing!) and along with a handful of fishing rods and a tackle box, and a cup of dug up worms gathered by our counselors a bit earlier, we headed down the trail to the other end of the lake, where a level grass area dropped slightly into the calm water. There were about 5 or 6 rods for about a dozen kids, so we needed to take turns casting. One child who was accustomed to fishing on the Sound caught a fish and was overcome with sorrow at having to toss it back into the water. But fishing was… otherwise…uneventful. At the end of our 2 hours, with only one fish having been caught, it had been a bit…slow. We began packing up to head back to our next activity. But my eldest had only had one chance to fish, and so I urged my husband to let him have one last cast before we made our way back. J set our eldest son up, without a worm since they were all gone and we were in a hurry, and helped him cast into the lake. None of us were really paying attention when the bobber sunk below the surface, and then the line became taught. The excitement brewed as together they slowly turned the reel and we watched as the fish flipped and flopped toward us, my eldest son holding his breath with excitement. My sweet boy held that fish and could not stop smiling, It was small and green and glistened with pond-water. And then he joyously let that fish splash back into the water and swim away, having blessed us that one small moment of ordinary joy. The story was told again and again for the rest of his summer – the story of the fish he caught with no worm, at “his” camp. And I still treasure it as one of those moments that turned from simple and ordinary to shiny and spectacular in an instant.