My desk is a huge mess. It makes people flinch to look at it and I could blame it on the hectic pace of summer (it becomes a bit of a dumping ground in July and August) but if I am honest, my desk is a mess most of the year, like right now in the calm of winter when I have no excuse. It is a collection of projects on the go, reminders to myself to do this or that, pieces of equipment that need putting away or will be used again soon or need repair, and coffee cups and sweaters that help me meet my human needs during the day to day work that I do here at Valaqua
My desk is chaos but it is a chaos I understand so judge away if you need to but it works for me. It turns out I am a creature comfortable with chaos. I can work with the chaos of a group and usually bend and flex as necessary. I have come to appreciate the messy side of what we do here… the human side. The side that forgets to put away the climbing ropes or uses up the last of the paint is a side I understand and one I usually have grace for (but seriously, tell someone if you use the last of the paint).
That is the long form of “my desk is a mess and I’m not really embarrassed” so there you have it. This story isn’t really about my desk, it’s about a rock.
There is a rock on my desk. If you squint carefully at the photo of chaos up top you can see it in the top left corner, just under the monitor and left of the computer. It’s not holding the desk down or pinning down paper or doing anything particularly useful… it’s just sitting there. It’s not a particularly fancy rock; just plain brown with a little streak of red rust across the back and about the size of my palm. It is not a diamond or a piece of coal, it’s not even from some exotic destination; I picked it up down by the river.
So what makes it special? It has my name on it and that tells part of the story but the bigger part happened half a year or a lifetime ago during our staff training week. We were blessed that week to have Kari Enns join us to guide us in some times of worship and reflection and one of the things we did was pick rocks. I picked the one you can barely see on my desk. I wrote my name on it –as per instructions- and brought it to the session. I will admit I almost skipped that session. Kari told me I could and orientation is a hectic week for me and I almost took that time for myself but something pushed me to join the group. I’m glad I did.
See at that session we talked about community and then we handed around our rocks. Each of us spent a full minute thinking about and praying for the person who belonged to that rock. I could feel the warmth of the hands that had held the stones before mine as each stone was passed to me and when we had made our way all around the circle the stone I received was somehow transformed. It is now on my desk, in a corner of the chaos, reminding me quietly of what is to come. It reminds me of the young people who will come to call Valaqua home for a summer. It reminds me of the thread that connects us. It reminds me of the human warmth that we give to each other in our time together. It reminds me of camp.
It can be easy to forget about camp on cold, lonely mornings in the office as I order brochures and prepare mail outs and organize marketing efforts. It can be easy to lose focus on what it is we do and why. This small rock holds down my focus as we roll over the crest of another year and begin the downhill ride to summer camp.
This rock reminds me of all those others that shared a place with mine last summer. Those other rocks are scattered across Western Canada now and hopefully some of their owners are thinking about camp once again. I know I think about them each time my eyes drift to the dusty corner of my desk that is held down by a fist sized rock labelled “Jon.”
The staff application deadline is in a little over a month, but applications have begun to arrive and the key leadership people are in place. It is amazing to think that in a few short months we will be doing all of this over again. I can’t wait.