Young People’s Call to the Garden

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Reflections from Camp Calye 2023 by Tisha Caro

It was the end of June, and for the first time in three long years, we finally had Camp Calye 2023 in person. Picture 300 young people, away from their normal lives, schoolwork, and video games. They came to a place where they carried less of what they normally had and gained the freedom to experience something new.

We’ve always had our monthly gatherings at Youth Home, but there was simply something about gathering together outside Zoom calls and concrete buildings. There was something about gathering in an open space, where we could breathe fresh air and feel the earth beneath our feet. The expansive blue sky stretched above our heads, and we could trust only the trees to shelter us from the sun.

Of course, bugs were abundant too.

But for many years, young people have eagerly anticipated camp season, despite the expense and challenges of planning. It was something we knew we had to keep doing, not simply because it’s fun (though that’s a big part of it), but because it gave the chance for every young person to have a glimpse of life in the Garden.

On page one of the Bible (in the book of Genesis), God created humans and placed them where?

In a garden.

It was a place where they could meet God face to face and be who they were made to be, a place where they could simply eat and enjoy dwelling with Him.

But we know very well what happened in that Garden. Sin entered the picture when the first humans chose to eat the fruit God told them not to, placing more trust in themselves than in Him. So they were exiled from the Garden and had to grapple with a compromised version of God’s ideal world.

This story reveals why the world is what it is today-plagued with suffering, violence, and human selfishness. But this broken world is not how God intended it to be, nor is it how God wants it to to be.

From that point of the story, God has been on a mission to restore the world to its original state-a world where God and humans coexist, and heaven and earth are one. Ultimately, God accomplishes this through Jesus, who came into this broken world and brought little pockets of what life in the Garden is like a life of blessing and abundance. He blessed the poor in spirit, the meek, and the mourning; He brought an abundance of food to the hungry and healing to the sick.

And if you ever feel distant from God, perhaps all you need is to find a place that is like the Garden-a place of trees and wind, delight, and love.

We were made for a world such as this.

I know the world doesn’t always resemble such a place, but perhaps by seeking ways to return to the Garden, we may catch a glimpse of what God is recreating this world to be and find hope.

To me, the camp was exactly that—a taste of heaven on earth, where young people gathered in a place that is like the Eden to meet with a God who loves us.

And that Garden experience stays close in our hearts, even as we drove back home, where things are still broken. Somehow, those few days spent in the Garden made a part of us new.

So, I invite you to come to the Garden, whatever that may look like to you. It doesn’t have to be at the camp-it could be simply taking a walk in the park, watching the leaves sway with the wind, or looking up at the sky.

Let it become a meeting place with the God who loves you and allow Him to reveal how He is restoring this world to be, once again, heaven on earth.

*This article is taken from Feast e-magazine September 2023 issue available at*

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