This week’s word is Heiwa! Heiwa is a Japanese word not just for peace, but also for the balance and smoothness of life. Heiwa, peace through balance, is possible through loving God, neighbor, and yourself.
When Jesus is asked in Mark 12:28-31 which commandment is the greatest by a lawyer, his answer is, “The most important one is this: ’Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Jesus quotes the Shema, “Love the Lord your God,” a core scripture in Jesus’s tradition. He then connects the Shema to the love of self and neighbor. Like Ubuntu, this scripture invites us to explore who we are in relationship to each other.
In this passage, the lawyer seems to be challenging Jesus. Jesus does not attack the man’s motives. He does not seek to win in this situation, but he also does not retreat from the lawyer’s question. Jesus holds his own while inviting the lawyer to grow as he seeks his own understanding. In our competitive culture and world, we often fail to respect each other when we compete against one another and when we disagree with each other. Instead of puffing out our chests and calling out our antagonists, a better way is to defuse the tension and make room for another to achieve.
Loving your neighbor as yourself can be challenging in different ways. Those of us who struggle to see the image of God in others, but have respect for ourselves, may need to look at the neighbors around them with fresh eyes. Those of us who deeply love and respect their neighbors, but fail to see the same worth in themselves, may need to more fully recognize that they too are a beloved child of God. Heiwa, peace through balance, comes when we challenge ourselves to grow closer to the love God has for each and every one of us. We are created in the image of God and we are good.
Heiwa also reminds us that living a truly selfless life is different from self-sacrifice. Being selfless, so that you can go to heaven, is a selfish thought. Sacrificing, so that people appreciate your faith or celebrate your contributions, is not true sacrifice. We are called to receive the grace of God and share it, not die for it all over again. If we try to compete with each other in the giving of our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness, we are hurting our neighbor and ourselves.
At camp, it can be hard to not let competition get in the way of loving our fellow campers and staff. One way we learn to work together as a team and encourage each other as individuals is at our Challenge Course. The Challenge Course has two parts: the Lows and Highs. The Lows elements must be completed as a team. When we fail to listen to each other or follow each other’s advice, these obstacles may seem insurmountable. Our Highs elements, where we climb up our tower, find a balance between the team and the individual. Only one person climbs at a time, but the rest of the team supports the person in the air either on the belay team, helping to keep the climber safe, or as moral support through cheering. Finding balance as individuals and family groups through the Challenge Course is essential.
This week, we had several specialty camps. Spring Heights Ninja Warrior spent a lot of time training, as well as climbing and traversing our Highs. Gaga for God competed with each other through their many rounds of Gaga, but came together as a group to learn about God. We also had some amazing Younger Youth and Older Youth camps this week. Burlington Family Services brought youth from their Beckley and Daniels campuses, and we enjoyed hosting them and their staff.
We also had Dayspring camp at Clendenin, WV this week! Our camp grew from 15 kids at the start of the week to 23 campers. We loved playing Gaga and Nine-square, so much that the kids didn't want to stop! We also tie-dyed shirts and learned how to do archery and lawn games. For water day, we played muddy Gaga and covered the counselors in soap and water. Dayspring Clendenin took a field trip to Spring Heights itself to walk the trails, ride our horses, and play in the pool. In between all these activities, we also made sure to spend time with Jesus too.
Dayspring Clendenin would like to thank Pastor Don Stilgenbauer for helping us with a lot of logistics and hard work. Thanks to Clendenin UMC for hosting Dayspring, as well as providing amazing kitchen staff to feed all our campers and staff. We are very grateful to Butch for going out of his way to spread the word about Dayspring and growing our camp. Kanawha County Schools provided transportation to Spring Heights, and we appreciate the school district and bus driver for their assistance. Finally, thanks to the Myers family for housing our staff through this week and providing meals for them. Dayspring would not be possible without your help!
May we bring peace, balance, and love wherever we go as we learn to love our neighbors as ourselves. Heiwa!
Check out our end-of-week slideshow here!