Last night I missed the surf sounds. Always when we get home from camping on the north Oregon coast it takes time for me to adjust. Our long weekend a stone’s throw from the ocean transforms me just a little.
The Labor Day campout has become a tradition for people from our church. Some of us go every year, some never go, and some go the years they can.
For a Christian community like this one, to hold annual (or any) traditions is both notable and a matter of course.
Notable, I think, because many of us consider ourselves refugees. To one degree or another we’ve fled traditional church settings and imperatives.
Sometimes we tend toward snootiness, giddy in our freedom. Our arrogance isn’t right. It’s where people went wrong immediately after Christ was here, and then again at the time of the Reformation.
Knowing these quirky people for several years, however, I treasure an attitude amongst individuals of wanting to be different from the way we are as broken beings. I find my friends not so worried about maintaining tradition or nontradition as they are about seeking truth in reality.
That we maintain a weekend, the same one, each year for gathering in the same place shows a distinct bent for doing some things, at least, the usual way.
And really, how can a group of human beings carry on together without a smattering of tradition? I don’t think it’s meant to be. We’re creatures of the herd mentality; we need one another. Somehow, too, we need to express commonality by means of shared traditions.
So we find them. In my group, my village as I think of it (since whether mindfully or not it’s been engaged in the process of raising me), our set ways include a lot of standing, or sitting, around talking. (Eating, too.)
Especially in relaxed settings like this one, subjects arise from daily life and from the Bible and from historical readings, and deep discussions ensue. God’s ways are marveled at, and they’re also puzzled over. And we tend not to structure a requisite worship service or sing-along (although back at our usual Sunday meeting place, people sing and listen to a sermon). I guess I did hear some girls chanting “I’m a Little Teapot” to the tune of “We Will Rock You,” but I digress.
My point is, getting away with this dear group of friends is an actual exercise in getting away. Pretense sails off on salt breezes; no script attempting to look acceptably Christian exists. Sunburns abound, but rarely does self-righteousness. Like the continuous soft roar of breakers against shoreline, an attitude of love for one another binds us. Somehow the strong chords are ever pliant to welcome someone new.
I’m as amazed at how this happens as I am at sunset’s beauty — so recognizable; always an original grain of the eternal.