A melancholy Eastertide love letter to camp on the cusp of the summer season
It is my queer agenda to remind people of the world’s beautiful cycle– or maybe that’s just my agenda, who’s to say.
I grew up in the American South, North Carolina, a storied land woven into the fabric of history and its people; there’s plenty to say about the checkered saga I was born into, and the garbage that comes along with it, but I did at the very least get a blessing from the place I grew up. A blessing from the years spent at camp out in the woods.
The Creator loves wholly.
Even before I loved myself or feigned belief that another person could love a queer me, the substance of the world outside the door would offer up little glimpses of divinity. Moments that screamed the Imago Dei before I even knew that phrase.
I know you just got the crap kicked out of you in school, but did you see this pattern in this new leaf unfurling? Check out this beetle… Oh, it happened again… did you notice the resplendent yellow this oak has turned? I’m sorry my dear… You really weren’t meant for P.E. class were you… have you seen the hawk circling the field? Best not to look at your friend in his gym shorts. You seem sad, have you noticed how I’m sad too? Did you notice that I, too, am dying every day? Did you notice that we are resurrected with the dawn?
It was in the bosom of the woods where queerness was explored. Where I was always myself with everything I was and could be and everything that hurt and wanted to reject. Conversations with close friends, lovers, and all the things that get lifted up as prayers of laughter in the squeals of kids playing games, broken hearts, and views from dirty windows. These were and are souvenirs from moments long gone and seasons spent in the woods. Beloved, these souvenirs fade with time, but they are not lost because the Resurrected Christ says nothing is truly lost. Yes, die and can decompose, but the star stuff that carries your souvenirs has never been lost since the beginning.
I can’t quite place the exact memories anymore, and I’m not sure how they slipped, but I carry the embedded feelings gifted by the cycle– the smell of the first Spring rain, the stark silence of snowfall, the oppressive humidity of July. It’s a kind of creation cycle we honor in our liturgical calendar. One that reminds us in the depths of winter that the light has come into the world, one that reminds us of our dust-to-dust-ness even when Spring is about to get going.
I think “queer-God talk” and an “eco-God talk” are kind of one in the same. To be queer is, for me, to hold such vast complexity in your being. To think eco-theologically– or whatever– is to bear witness to the vast complexity of another being. That vast complexity both in and out is God’s creation, it’s the image you’re made in. “Let us make them in our image!” A singular yet plural bang of creation that got called good and was loved even when it isn’t at its best.
Alex Winfield Linn, “Winnie” (he/him/his) is a nearly approved candidate for ordination in Word and Sacrament with the Metropolitan Chicago Synod. He is a former camp program director and currently the vicar-in-residence while on his internship year at Luther Memorial Church, and Lutheran Campus Ministries in Madison, WI. When doing ‘Jesus stuff’ isn’t in his purview he enjoys playing games of all varieties, being a lil’ bit cranky, loving his rescue Dalmatian puppy, and inventing creative swear words.
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