If summer vacation has to end, and it does, I suppose I could do worse than end it at Page’s Camp Meeting, which isn’t really a camp meeting, but IS a wonderful experience, all the same. Page’s is a late-summer tradition among the local Methodists, where many churches come together for evening worship services, outside in the warm air.
Two hundred and fourteen years ago, a man named Alexander Page died and left the Methodist church 250 acres of land between Morgan’s Cut and Radford, to be used for camp meetings. Page’s Meeting House was built on the site soon thereafter, and every fall, droves of Methodists would arrive by wagon, to camp for a week and attend services.
Think how much fun it must have been for those families, working hard on their farms all year, to take a break in the relative wilderness. Many of them traveled a long way, and often the camp meeting would also be the site of family reunions as the different members gathered from their farflung farms. Friends camped together each year, and the children ran freely among the tents and wagons.
It’s a bit different now. The fields are full of SUV’s and Buicks instead of wagons, and by dark, they’ve almost all headed for home. Children, who once looked forward to camp meeting as a vacation and a chance to play with lots of other children, are now something of a rarity. They have too many distractions at home. It’s not “fun,” any more.
Except that it is. Maybe it’s just my age. I adore listening to Marva Hickman’s multi-church choir. I love seeing my friends who attend other churches, and worshipping with them in a way we don’t usually get to do. I even like “Church in the Wildwood” sung congregationally at a breakneck pace. I need to hear Kathie Wilson-Parker’s reminder God is not asking me to be comfortable, but to comfort.
Those are not bad words to hear on the night before the school year starts. It’s not my job to sit around soaking up the goodies, but to make sure that everyone has a chance to feel love, to have value, to see Jesus. I don’t know what my semester is going to be like, but that’s not a bad directive to take into the next days and weeks.