I never knew what a “Synod” was or what it entails before this year. However, after a pandemic that swept through the world, I knew deep reflection and prayer could “draw forth prophecies and visions, and allow hope to be nourished,” just as Pope Francis had indicated. Journeying Together, the theme of the Synod, offers us the chance to examine our faith, the challenges we face with our faith, and how our faith assists in the practice of authenticity. With God at the center, the spiritual experience of Journeying Together guided me to reflect on the fruitful, spirit-inspired, and faith-filled experience that camp fosters so genuinely.
Journeying together, the Pope tells us, “Is an easy concept to put into words, but not so easy to put into practice.” But what makes journeying together so difficult? Journeying Together, I believe, requires faith. It requires putting God at the center of everything. In Lent, Christians often reflect on the ways that Jesus was tested in his faith. Though tempted, Jesus held God at the center and gave us a model of how to live in faith. Throughout my life, I have been tested multiple times in my faith. It was through God’s graceful healing that grounded me in my faith and reminded me that, yes, God is at the center of everything. Once grounded in faith, I was then able to begin embracing who I truly am and embark on the journey of authenticity.
Pope Francis encourages a “free and authentic” communication in this Synod. But what is authenticity? Authenticity is defined by Brené Brown as, “the practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we are.” But how do I differentiate who I think I am supposed to be and who I am? Where does my spirituality fit into this definition? Is it possible to live completely spiritually authentic, if so, how do I get there? I have no answers to these questions, but it is something that I have reflected greatly on. So far, I believe the journey to authenticity can be guided by faith. Authenticity, like faith, is a lifelong journey and will have ups and downs. Journeying together will ensure that we are not alone on this journey.
How, then, do we create a bridge from an individual spiritual experience to the collective spiritual experience (Journeying Together)? This is where I think of Family Camp. Camp is an authentic collective spiritual experience. There is not a time where I am unafraid to explore my authenticity in a communal setting, because I know that Christ is at the center. Camp gracefully becomes the reminder of how Journeying Together can make the journey of faith and authenticity easier.
Journeying together requires faith. Faith can be challenged and an individual relationship with God can become questioned. However, once grounded in faith, it will become possible to authentically Journey Together.