And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered tThe word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2‘Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.’ 3So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel.4The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him. (Jeremiah 18:1-4)
God spoke: “Separate!
Water-beneath-Heaven, gather into one place;
And there it was.
God named the land Earth.
He named the pooled water Ocean.
God saw that it was good.
God spoke: “Earth, green up! Grow all varieties
of seed-bearing plants,
Every sort of fruit-bearing tree.”
And there it was.
Earth produced green seed-bearing plants,
And fruit-bearing trees of all sorts.
God saw that it was good.
It was evening, it was morning—
(Genesis 1:9-10; 11-13, The Message)
All of the Camp and Retreat Ministries staff would like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. May you have reasons to express your gratitude for the many gifts in your life.
In 1941, the (then) Methodist Churches of the Portland area found some land out near Sandy, Oregon, to be a place where children and youth could have a camp experience and where local churches could get away for a day in the country. This place would first be home to the Leewood Methodist Camp, which burned in 1986. Across Deep Creek from Leewood, the Alton L. Collins Retreat Center was built in 1981.
When the churches received the responsibility of caring for this land, it had recently been clear-cut. It is difficult for me to imagine what the land looked like at that time. It is also amazing to me that after all this time, you can still see where some of the logging roads were on the property.
Today the land that surrounds the retreat center is dominated by towering Western Red Cedars, White Fir, Grand Fir, Hemlock, Big-Leaf Maple, and in open spaces, Red Alder, which will give way one day to the larger cedars.
The contours of the land allow for a creek to run through the property and our lives. This riparian zone is teeming with life and wonder, and all around it there is a fullness of life that is hard to miss. Though if it was to be taken for granted, that unique joy and wonder would be absent from our lives.
My time serving as the director of the Collins Retreat Center has forever shaped the my life, even now that I no longer live there. I am attuned to the rhythms of life on this part of the Earth. I came to see my relationship to land and life differently, and therefore I had a need to change some elements of my theology so that Creator played a larger role. Wonder also has become a more significant element in my life because of that sojourn with this amazing landscape. For this and so much more I can say with a deep sense of gratitude to those who provided me the opportunity to be at the retreat center, and to the land itself, thank you!
See you on the adventure ahead,
Rev. Todd Bartlett
Executive Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries
*PHOTO: The old Camp Leewood sign (Todd Bartlett)
Seasons change whether we're ready or not, and those who can adapt are better able to weather the inevitable changes we encounter along our physical and spiritual journeys. While "Dislocation" experiences can feel challenging as we step out of our comfort zones, Rev. David Berkey reminds us of their transformative and restorative power in this new blog post from Michigan Area United Methodist Camping. Read more here.
*PHOTO: A slice of pumpkin pie--made from scratch by guests participating in a Thanksgiving cooking retreat at Collins.
Whether your Thanksgiving celebration includes pumpkin pie or pizza (be sure to ask Todd about the time he chose pizza for his Thanksgiving feast!), all of us in camp and retreat ministry hope you find an opportunity before or after eating to head outside and experience the joy and wonder that come from marveling at the gifts of the Creator. We are all grateful to be in this ministry that connects children, youth, and adults with the beauty and the wisdom that are all around us in God's creation. We are also grateful for your support of this ministry. We encourage you to offer a Thanksgiving donation to your favorite camp or retreat center.