Thursday, October 28, 2010
The Herd Effect
In the Summer of 1970, right after my graduation from High School that May, I spent the entire Summer working as one of the Recreation Directors at a Christian camp named Camp Wamava. It included eight weeks of campers of different ages, and two weeks of pre-camp set up with brother Nelson Smith, the Camp Director. It was a wonderful time, and I have loads of great memories from that Summer in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. I actually began going to Camp Wamava as a camper back in 1960 or '61, so it was fitting that my last Summer vacation before college, marriage, and ministry took over, was spent there.
Memories are truly special blessings. Even the bad ones remind us that we learned something, and that life's lessons aren't always about fun times and happy moments. That same Summer, while taking a weekend break with my good buddy Bruce, I bought a ceramic elephant at a gift shop. It was my first one. Then in July, Bruce gave me a marble elephant as a birthday present, and that really started the herd going. I don't know why I wanted to have an elephant collection. Maybe it was my Republican leanings. Can you imagine that in 1970, I was really excited about Nixon being in office. He was the first president I ever voted for. Ouch! I did say not all memories where good.
Anyway, over the next three to four decades, my herd grew. I bought some in Europe, while on campaigns and mission internships in college, and I picked up a few special ones a special places, like Disney World, and a coal carving in WV, but most of the - now large - herd is made up of gifts from people who have been special friends through the years. The whole herd has been in boxes in our basement for the last, almost six years now, and I finally got a display case for my office to place them in. In truth, I was more excited about clearing out space in my basement, but this morning, as I unpacked and unwrapped each elephant and placed it on a shelf, nearly each one triggered a special memory of a special friend and shared experiences from the last forty years. Wow! How blessed it that? Gifts from people who were thinking of me when they traveled across the country or around the world. Gifts from my Youth Group in Arkansas, from the church family in Virginia, from elders, from families, from my brothers travels in the Navy, from my wife, and a few from people who I never realized cared much about me - but they did.
And the stories I could tell about so many of those miniature pachyderms and the people who gave them to me! But, that's not why I wanted to write this. I just wanted to write a post that shared with anyone who reads it, how wonderful it is to have great memories. Memories of being loved and of those you love. I am thankful to God for each one.
Maybe it's fitting that elephants helped me remember to "never forget".