Give me a large body of water and a night sky, and I’m gone.
Mid-July amidst the summer heat of the Pacific Northwest, my high school youth group drove your typical yellow school bus almost 400 miles to the Dworshak Reservoir. The expanse of pure Idaho water runoff covers sixteen and a half acres amongst the forests and meadows in the northern half of Idaho.
A few pick-up trucks followed behind this sweat-culminating clunker of a vehicle. Each pulling behind them high-performance wakeboarding and water ski boats for a week of camping, water activities, and of course, God.
Growing up in Oregon, I’ve gone camping more times than I can count, and I was ten the first time I was pulled behind a boat with a rope in hand with a board strapped to my feet. Camping and water activities were old news. God though, God was a different story. I started going to church when I was 8, but God is different from church. I heard the stories, but the stories weren’t my life. They hardly made sense to me. God is interesting.
By our campground at the reservoir, I found a rock surrounded by water. The rock was close enough for me to hop onto but just away enough for me to disconnect from the high school flirtations and playfulness behind me. I sat here with my legs tucked up to my chest, resting my chin on my knees.
This was my getaway rock, a place to reflection and a place to interrogate God.
“Why did you make me like this?”
“Who must I be?”
“What am I supposed to do?”
Looking over the blue, each ripple reflected the uneasiness of my thought, shaken by the winds of realty disrupting the serenity of childhood innocence. When the wind stopped, I could remember the simplicity of my life before I understood what sexuality was, before I started understanding I wasn’t like the others.
The most enlightening moments came in the most absence of light, when the sun had gone and the moon would shine over the darkness with the glowing specks from the heavens above. Connecting the dots gets harder as you grow older.
As I listened to the water lap onto my rock, my mind faded farther from the woods and deeper into the lake, and my body shrunk in the growing expanse of the darkness, the crevasses of my heart.
From time to time, one of my youth leaders came and sat with me. He’d say a few words to make his presence known and eventually leave: “I’ll leave you to think, Sean.”
One the last night of camp, I receded to my rock, and he, too, later came to join me. This time though, he didn’t leave so fast. He sat with me in the silence as time passed.
The raging pressure of my questions was groaning to be heard as mellow worship music could vaguely be heard in the distance. After several moments, I became calm enough to share, and I disrupted the silence. “I have this struggle, with homosexuality,” I told him.
On that night, our conversation began. It continued the next day,
Throughout the following years,
and carries on until today.
On that rock, I feared entering into a deeper relationship with him. I feared being exposed. I feared being known, but to fearful Sean’s surprise, this friend has been one of the most influential individuals over the last four years of my life.
We have the same perception of God, fearful, distant, and unknown. We sit on that rock, pondering about God, when God comes and sits with us, saying, “Hey, I’m here, but I’m going to leave it to you to take that extra step.” The invitation is there, but God can’t do anything if we fail to participate.
We constantly wait for God to do something spectacular, to sweep our feet from under us. It’s not until we make a move into what is around us and see that this whole time we’ve been missing what has been going on all along, the flexibility, uniqueness, and extravagance of each relationship within God’s creation, where God instilled God-self into the fine fabrics between everything that is. How we interact in the creation shows our participation within it, our own unique and divine connection to the Creator.
If each one is a part in the body of Christ, how are we of any use if we fail to function as that body part? Let alone, how are we to know what body part we are if have never put ourselves to use? Hand, serve those who need to be served. Eyes, show us what we need to see. Feet, take us where eyes cannot go. And lips… speak the justice of the Creator that we others may weep at the injustice, discovering our parts and entering into the depth and beauty of Creation. For here, in participating in Creation, all things acknowledge their place, their function, their use. Outside of this participation, we continue to remain severed from that which we were designed for, through, and to, the Creator.