Here's a "Director's Cut" of the Thank You letter that I'll be sending out within a couple of days. The end product will probably be a lot shorter. But this has a little info on my summer so I thought it might be good to post it. And plus it's long and all about me, what's not to love about it?
It’s been several months since my graduation and several months since you sent gifts. This is far to long of a time to go without making my gratitude known to you, so I hope you’ll accept my apologies. I really am sorry. Though I am, however, not entirely without excuse because for me the past couple of months or so, seem to have been more like a whirlwind than a summer. A very enjoyable and rewarding whirlwind, but a whirlwind none the less. I hope you don’t mind if I try to tell you a little about this thundering, bruising storm of a summer because it’s been one of the most meaningful and affirming of my life, besides, I think I owe it to you.
Where to start? Well, let me back up a bit to a couple of weeks before the graduation itself.
May 25 found my sister Midsummer and myself making our way down to Colorado for a couple of days to visit my friend Eucharisto and his family for Eucharisto’s graduation. We then proceeded to head back north with Eucharisto in tow in order that he could then attend my graduation which was to be later that week. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Waiting for us when we got home was the "Lewis" family; who were friends we had made in Tennessee shortly before moving. Well, needless to say, that time was a kind of whirlwind in and of itself, going from one favorite spot to another, trying to fit all of The Beautiful State of Oregon into a couple of days. The time climaxed then, of course, with the graduation itself.
The graduation is what show biz-types would call a “big production” you and I would call it “cool”. My Mom deserves big thanks here, because she really worked hard to bring the whole thing together. And it really came off well, what with the snazzy decorations and all. But the highlight for me was seeing people that I hadn’t seen in a long time, some I hadn’t seen since first grade. My only regret is that I didn’t say anything at the graduation, I just kind of sat there and smiled a lot. (I think I’m going to include another part to this letter of what I wished I had said at my graduation. Wow, a bonus! You lucky people!) But my Grandpa spoke and so did my Dad and my friends sang “Be Thou My Vision”. So I hope that people felt that they got their money’s worth.
Well, in short time after the graduation we packed up the "Lewis's" and Eucharisto and sent them on their respectively merry ways. That morning I took the SAT, which of course, was just a little too much fun for one week.
For the following three months (from June 17 to August 21) I spent six out of seven days a week as Counselor Hickory at Trout Creek Bible Camp, and that is when my summer really began.
I loved my time at Trout Creek, not just for the games, songs, people etc. I loved the time because it was exhausting, I loved the time because when I read things in passing like “I am already being poured out like a drink offering” in 2 Timothy, I understood what Paul meant; suddenly his words were more than the theological musings of an ancient saint, he was describing something that had become a practical part of every day at camp. Paul and I were brothers in arms. The idea of worshiping God by giving yourself as a living sacrifice (Romans 12) and the idea of walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5) went from the realm of the abstract to the concrete. Love was no longer a word, it was how I made it through the day.
Now I don’t want to give the impression that I lived up to these things all of the time, because I certainly didn’t. I’m just trying to say that because of what I was called on to do each day at camp Scripture came alive and it’s what comes to mind when I think about my time at camp.
Another highlight of the summer happened when that I took ten days off from camp (June 28 to July 7) to be part of Western Seminary’s TruthQuest. I didn’t know much about TruthQuest before going; besides the fact that it was described as a ten day long summer seminary, whatever that was supposed to mean.
As it turns out, TruthQuest was an affirming, restful time. The focus of the first half of the time was team building, which was good for me because, having just come from camp, I didn’t want to get to know another group of people. But through the rafting trip and other team building exercises I began to see those around me as people which is unusual for me because I have a tendency to see people around me as extras or something like that for a play about and starring me. I know that’s selfish, but it seemed to me to be a good play, one that you should see sometime.
Anyway, as I was saying, the whole play thing kind of went under because Brian, our guide on the rafting trip asked everyone in the raft to talk about a hard time they’d had recently that God had brought them through. And when the other people on the raft began to share, I suddenly saw these people as people, with their own lives and struggles. So after that I dropped my “play” attitude and began to get down to the business of trying to get to know people. And I ended up making some good friendships with some really wonderful people. That was the first half.
The second half took place on the campus of Corban college in Salem. All of us students had signed on to one of four tracks: Worship (Music), Missions, Leadership, or Video Communications; I (along with my friend "Juice") was on the Video Communications track. I was a little apprehensive about this track, after all what is one supposed to expect from something called “Video Communications”? I suspected that I was going to be trained in the ways of evangelical propaganda, shoving microphones in people’s faces asking questions about God. “Orson Welles was not a ‘video communicator.’” I felt like saying, “And neither was Alfred Hitchcock. I am a FILMMAKER, Sir! I’m here to learn the craft!”
As it turned out there was no need for such worry, Jon Pageant, the leader of our track, was talented and knowledgeable. He was also affirming for me because he verbalized a lot of what I had been thinking about on the subject of things like film and art. Under his guidance our track ended up making at least one movie each night for the student lead worship service, designed to complement the message of whoever was speaking.
So that’s a glimpse into some of the things that happened to me this summer. There were other things that happened this summer, other things like the death of my Great Grandfather. But I couldn’t write about that here, I’ve tried. It would take up more space than you have patience for anyway.
However, since this is supposed to be a thank you letter it would probably be good for me to let you know a little of what I intend to do with all that for which I’m saying Thank You in the first place. And why not make this into the what-I-wish-I-had-said-at-my-graduation part while I’m at it?
The What I Wish I Had Said At My Graduation Part
In January 2005, just after moving here I was reading my Bible at a worship retreat. I was just kind of flipping around and decided to read Psalm 40, mostly because U2 has a song based on it that I like. In this Psalm, David talks about how he was trapped in a muddy pit till God rescued him and brought him out of the mire and gave him a firm place to stand, after that God gives David a new song to sing. And it is apparently because of this song that people are able to see what God is like and when they see that they fear Him and decide to put their trust in Him.
Now this struck me as a beautiful thing and I don’t remember how it happened, but I remember getting the distinct impression that God had a kind of song for me to sing for his glory. I don’t remember if I asked Him or if He asked me what the song was, but I remember that the answer came from Him and that the answer was “Film”.
(Now I realize that some of you reading this letter don’t think much of God or may think of God as something like Santa Clause or The Effectiveness of Voting. That is, as something that’s OK to believe in in front of kids but something that you would never take seriously by yourself. That’s your prerogative. But you must understand that when I say “God” I’m talking about a real person, more real, in fact, then you or me.)
So here I had a mandate from the Almighty and here I am now almost a year later still sorting out what it means. For now I’m taking it to mean that I should, as one friend put it, “learn the craft” of filmmaking and I’m making plans to do that by taking the Digital Media Production program at the Art Institute of Portland next Fall, meanwhile sorting and arranging things to help that fall into place. No pun intended.
And now Beloved Reader, you have reached the end of this Thank You Card/autobiographical memoir and may God bless you if you’ve made it this far. And may God bless me because now you’ll think twice before getting me anything for Christmas, won’t you?