#20108 Eliza Davis Chapel Talk
My name is Eliza Davis and I am the Outdoors Director at Camp Kiniya.
Normally every morning at breakfast a member of our community gives what we call a “chapel talk.” They share a story, something they’ve learned, or reflect on life at camp. Chapel talks give our community a chance to breathe and listen together first thing in the morning. We are not all together to do that this summer, but I hope that this and other “chapel talks” you listen to this summer still offer you a chance to reflect and feel some part of the camp community from wherever you are.
When I was a camper at Kiniya way back in 2008 a leader named Megan Powell gave a chapel talk that I still think about all the time. She talked about “tunnel vision.” Tunnel vision, she told us, is something we all do. Instead of focusing on the current moment we look to what is coming next. We see the future as some bright light ahead and, in focusing on that, ignore what’s around us. The present is a darkened blur, much like the walls of a tunnel, because the future beckons clear and bright. We hope that by looking to future time will go faster, but really it doesn’t. We stare at the clock, watching it count down the minutes until lunch, we track calendars until the last day of school (or the first day of camp), instead of taking advantage of the current time we have with our teachers, our teammates, our friends and our families.
The problem with tunnel vision is that we miss what’s around us. We miss the beauty and the joy, the ways we can have fun. We also miss the sadness and pain, the ways we can help and support others.
When Megan talked about tunnel vision she was talking about making the most of our time at camp. Taking advantage of every activity period, every team comp, and every hymn sing. In my own life I use Megan’s advice about tunnel vision not only to savor those positive moments but also to push through hard times by finding silver linings rather than wishing I was somewhere else.
Right now, I’m using Megan’s advice in a whole new way: I’m using it to make sure that I don’t miss all the ways that I can help others. All the ways that I can put the other fellow first.
In our country right now, we have two really tough things happening. One is the coronavirus pandemic. The other is the black lives matter movement where millions in our country are peacefully protesting police violence and fighting for racial equity.
It would be incredibly easy to use tunnel vision in this moment. Our lives are fundamentally different than they were 3 months ago, and we are facing some tough challenges. I’m not going to work, you aren’t going to school, and neither one of us are going to camp. We see protests on the news. We hear about injustice toward black people and people of color on social media. Maybe some of you are like me and have been to a protest in the last month. Maybe you haven’t heard much about this at all, and that’s okay too.
Whatever your experience is, it would be so easy to just block everything out and think about some future when everything is back to normal. When we can be back on Lake Champlain for the summer. When we can go to stores without masks on our faces. When activists are not as loud, so we do not need to engage with their calls for justice.
But I want to challenge you stay in this moment with me. Stay in this moment for yourself and stay in this moment to put the other fellow first.
First, stay in this moment for you by finding the little things that make you happy and that make you feel connection with others. No, we can’t be at camp this summer, but that doesn’t mean we have to be miserable. Go for a walk with a family member instead of heading out on a hike from the KOB, reach out to your friends and have deep conversations with them, not just through text, instead of having vespers, send letters just like you would during rest hour at camp, listen to music, have a dance party over zoom with your friends. Feel and spread that 05446 joy and love.
Second, stay in this moment for the other fellow by thinking about others, learning about their needs, and helping where you can. Many people have lost their jobs or are hungry because of the pandemic. Many people experience inequality, unfairness and injustice because of the color of their skin in our communities and around the country. Reach out others in your life (your parents, your friends, your extended family, people at camp). Ask questions. Learn. Together figure out ways that you can help those who need it. Maybe you can give cans to a food drive, maybe you can donate to organizations that are fighting for justice, maybe you and a friend can read a book or watch a show together about someone who has a totally different identity or background than you and reflect on and celebrate those differences. It doesn’t have to be big, but do something that’s for others not just yourself.
Tunnel vision might make this time feel easier, but really time will go by at the same pace no mater what. So let’s use this time to find joy, and put the other fellow first.