We’ve just got back from the beach. It was great.
One of the big advantages of camping, besides the fact that it lets us live at the most beautiful place in the known universe, is that it puts day-day life in perspective. I mean, here we are on holiday, right? And doesn’t that mean that we don’t have to do a whole lot of stuff? No work? No responsibilities? No stress? Well it’s true that I wasn’t writing sermons (though I suspect that Carolyn was, in fact, planning lessons), but not having those daily tasks was necessary in order to make room for all the other tasks that go with camping: fetching the water, emptying the toilet, repairing the tent, doing the laundary by hand, cooking over a couple of tiny gas hobs, washing in a warm puddle, and so on. And then there are those aspects of daily life that just get shifted from one place to another – look after my kids, romance my wife, be polite to the neighbours… I remember being struck rather forcibly how much of what I was doing was merely a lower-tech (slower) version of what I normally did anyway. And there you have it.
All we ever do is camp.
When I’m camping at the beach, it’s pretty low-tech, slow, easily erased and labour-intensive. When I’m camping on my 1/4 acre section with four bedroom home plus double garaging, sleep-out and barbeque area, I’m still camping. Sure, the accomodation stays up for a bit longer, the water supply is a little more reliable and emptying the toilet is a snap; but it’s still camping. I still have to put work into keeping my tent up, and doing all the rest of the maintainance that goes with it. There will come a day when the tent folds up and someone else comes and camps on my spot.
And you can take that just a little bit further.
The apostle Paul – a tent-maker – talked about how our ‘home’ here on earth (that is, our body) is like a tent that can be destroyed. It just ain’t permanent, no matter how much botox/viagra/omega 3 you take. The good news, he said, is that we have a ‘heavenly dwelling’ for which we long. He would have had in mind the Holy Tent of the the Hebrews from when they were a desert people, said to be a replica of the Heavenly Temple. In Paul’s mind, the Temple of God is where the Holy Spirit is, and the Holy Spirit is among his People.
So right now, we’re camping out in tents; temporary accomodation requiring regular maintainance and constantly threatening to collapse in a high wind. But one day…
One day there is an eternal mansion; one ‘not built with hands’ waiting for us.
See you there.