Mary Lang has worked in the Kahdalea office since May of 2021, just after graduating Belmont Abbey College. Hiking, writing, jumping off waterfalls, editing, and conversing on philosophical topics make up some of her favorite moments. This summer, she looks forward to being on Wilderness staff.
About halfway through September I got to the point where I could recognize the distinctive rumbles and roars of the cars that roll through the triangle. Partially this is helpful when a strange car comes through: I hop over to the window to see who’s visiting.
It can be quiet here in the offseason. Never desolate, but sometimes deserted. Naturally, with the fewer staff members, I’ve been reflecting on community. The quiet can draw us closer together but there are larger spaces between faces on camp property.
Whether or not a person lives at a summer camp, everyone lives with fluctuating levels of closeness to others. Of course, the obvious example in our community is summer versus the rest of the year. It can be easy to go home feeling sorry that we won’t have the same closeness when the fall arrives.
I’d argue, though, that the offseason, or the quiet times when we are drawn back into silence and occasionally loneliness, are life-giving. This is the promise of seeds snuggling in for the winter, the thoughtful conversations about what it means to have faith, the waiting, the silence of a snowfall that was a lot deeper than I expected. Yes, my car was stuck for five days!
The roar (or in the case of Dave’s new Rav4, the purr) of an engine through the triangle is similar to a knock on the door or a phone call. As human beings, we can’t live without others, and it’s natural to be happy and excited by the prospect of a visitor. Taking this into the picture with silence, I’d say we need to combine both. In heaven there will probably be a way to engage in both at the same time. On earth, though, we can find ourselves lonely and wanting others, or feeling as if we are overstimulated.
Where are you on the spectrum of community and healthy alone time? Reach out to someone who you want to connect to. Don’t let it stop you that they haven’t reached out to you first, if that’s the case! And if your mind needs room to expand and rest, find a quiet space.
On the other hand, the times when you search for community and are unable to find it are really the moments where you can grow. You have to learn to be comfortable with the silence. Don’t run away from it.
Jesus tells us that the seeds of the Kingdom of God grow in the offseason, without our noticing: “‘This is how it is with the Kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit.’” (Mark 4:26-28)
- Mary Lang