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Reflections with Camp & Retreat Ministries

Walking in Circles

 One of my favorite spiritual practices is walking the labyrinth. This was an acquired taste as the first time that I walked on a labyrinth, nothing happened. There had been a lot of hype about the labyrinth with people in my life encouraging me, even telling me that I had to walk the labyrinth. On that fateful day in the Arizona desert, I walked onto the circular path and experienced nothing. Or at least that is what I thought at the time.Now, as Ilook back on it, I likely didn’t pay enough attention in noticing what was happening.

Now I anticipate that every time I walk the labyrinth, I will notice something, often more than one thing,during my walking in the circular path. I believe one of the reasons for the difference between the first time and every time after that is that I was unprepared to enter the labyrinth the first time. I figured that I could just walk, and something would magically happen to me and I would suddenly experience some sort of spiritual insight.

Now, I prepare myself to walk, by entering prayerfully with the intent to engage with God’s Spirit. This centers me and allows me to be more attentive to the promptings of the spirit. As I have been working on some reflections on my journey with the practice of walking the labyrinth, I have landed on the overall umbrella for these reflections as: Walking in Circles.

During these days of Covid19 and protests arising from the death of George Floyd, and working from home, and worshiping online, it might feel as though we are walking in circles. The difference between the labyrinth and the other times that we feel that we are walking in circles is that with the labyrinth, there is a clear path.

The circles that we are walking in often leave us disoriented and unable to find direction for ourselves. That is why it is important for us to continue or find new spiritual practices that help us navigate this new terrain. What I believe is important in any spiritual practice is the intent of engaging prayerfully with the Divine.

I have heard it said by many people, “prayer changes things.” I don’t know about that, but I do know that prayer changes me. I believe that as we hear the calls to change from those who have suffered long under the oppressive racism in our culture, that prayer is essential to our being able to do that. I also believe that those “things” that we want to change, will only change when we allow ourselves to change.
Camp and Retreat ministries is in a place of change whether we are choosing it or not. The immediate change is due to staff being furloughed and our inability to practice in the places and ways that we normally practice. During this time walking in circles, we have experienced a sense of disorientation. We also know that how we will offer this ministry in the future will change due to new rules; And we know that we get to choose some other ways of change. At its January meeting, the board listed as a goal for us to work on increasing the diversity of our staff as well as raising the awareness of our staff on issues of diversity, equity, and reflecting the entirety of the Kindom of God. 

What steps will you take in your life to notice what is going on and engage in the process of change? Here is one invitation for you to consider from the blog Radical Discipleship.

 See you on the adventure ahead,
 Rev. Todd Bartlett 

Executive Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries

CRM Celebrates Great Hymns of Faith


Last week 80 people gathered via Zoom to engage in an online version of Great Hymns of the Faith. This event that has been held at the Collins Retreat Center for over a decade made a successful leap to the online format.
During the event, people were able to sing along with a recorded version of five different hymns as well as learn about the words and the music from the leader of this event, the Reverend Laura Jaquith Bartlett. One participant shared in a chat with everyone, that they were in tears as they realized how much they had missed singing. The power of singing our faith together was made visible by the ability to see others (not hear them) singing along with the recorded hymn.
If you are curious about this event, sad that you missed it or excited to try it out, you are in luck. There is another one scheduled for August 20th. You can register here.

Blessings Report

  • The comfort and peace of friendship
  • New discoveries found through meditation
  • Change, though it is hard, God is in the midst of it

Please send your blessings to share in future issues of the e-news. Click on this link 


Go Camping E-News is a publication of Camp and Retreat Ministries, a collaboration of the OR-ID Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon.

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