Written by Acting Executive Director, Mike Davis.
Last weekend, in the midst of a very busy retreat weekend at camp, volunteers young and old from near and far descended on the Pyoca grounds. They carried with them garden implements of every type, plants purchased and plucked from their own yards, and heavy hearts.
Days of service and volunteer projects are a common occurrence at Pyoca, but Saturday was different. As always, we worked to give back to the place where our lives have been changed, but we also worked to honor the saints who have gone before us. They helped to create this place, encouraged us to go Pyoca as retreat guests and campers, and mentored us every step of the way.
From the latter months of 2017 into early 2018, Pyoca lost two active board members and another retired board member. I was in utter shock and dismay announcing the losses one after another to the board and Pyoca community, especially considering losing my grandmother suddenly in September. These were all people that shaped me, pushed me, and cared for me, as well as countless others.
During the day of service we told stories of these saints, both of their caring nature and of their wit, as well as a humorous blunder or two.
In between weeding and leaf raking tears and laughter were shared. Grief was embraced and gaping wounds were not healed, but given aid. The day was capped off with a worship service and memorial tree planting.
Grief, sadness, and heartache are not things you often associate with camp, but are nonetheless present in the lives of our campers, retreat guests, volunteers, and staff. We can’t expect our campers to explore, grow, rest, and play without first reflecting on the weight they may carry to camp.
As our Program Director and soon-to-be minister, Molly DeWitt, said in her homily on Saturday, grief is a healthy part of life and not something to be ignored.
It has always been said that Pyoca is not just a place, but an experience. We believe that the experience comes from the people who shape the place. As the hands and feet of Christ we are called to care for our neighbors. I have never seen this call so fully expressed as I have over these past few months, and particularly this weekend.
At Pyoca, we give thanks to God for a community that comes together and surrounds one another with love in good times and bad.