“It smells just the same!” “Everything looks so good!” “I’m so happy to be back!” While it was sobering to be greeted with temperature checks and color-coded wristbands, nothing prevented the joyful reunions, deep breaths of sweet forest air, and misty eyes as campers of all ages were reunited with their beloved Mimanagish.
About sixty people from as far away as Seattle and Denver gathered for a delicious lunch of pulled pork sandwiches, salads, and celebration cake, served up with smiles from cooks Jonna Mandeville and Dilynn Wise. After work crews (of course!) the Dedication Ceremony began, on the spot where Half Moon used to stand.
Readings* about our connection to and need for time in Nature were interspersed with Mimanagish songs, plus a new one, “Standing Like a Tree” by Snatam Kaur.
A large bowl sat on a watery fabric in the center of the circle. Everyone was invited to add a stone to the bowl to speak to what is solid: our past, our memories, our traditions. In celebration of what is fluid, flowing, and future, we poured water into the bowl too. Stones and water – key elements of Mimanagish.
Lynne Spencer-Smith, Moderator of the Montana-Northern Wyoming Conference of the United Church of Christ, brought greetings on behalf of the Board of Directors and Conference Minister Marc Stewart, who could not attend. She spoke warmly about the U.C.C. past and the Singing Waters MT future. Trudi Downer, Chair of the MNWC-UCC Committee for Outdoor Ministries, spoke of her love for Mimanagish and hope for wonderful times to come. Many three- and four-generation campers spoke to their deep history and their excitement for the future. Many expressed gratitude to Singing Waters Montana as they celebrated the promise of a wider welcome to our beloved Camp.
An offering of donations and pledges followed, along with a blessing of this place, and more songs. The crowd dispersed to enjoy the Camp Store and Garage Sale, to visit and remember, take photos, and reluctantly head back down the mountain.
It was a sweet and tender time of blessing!
*The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative, Florence Williams 2017. p. 201
Earth Prayers from Around the World, Ed. by Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon 1991. p. 5 Navajo Prayer
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, Robin Wall Kimmerer 2013. p. 207
To Bless the Space Between Us, John O’Donohue 2008. p. 137-8