As I write this I am sitting in a coffee shop in my hometown of McMinnville, Oregon. This is not exactly where I thought I’d be if you had asked me at the beginning of this year. In January I was happily living and working in Guatemala. 22-year-old Camille was learning and growing and falling in love, both with a person and with the country.
Our whole world was about to experience a dramatic shift, one that I would argue none of us were the least bit prepared for. We all had plans, dreams, places to be, and things to do. We were hurried, leaping from one thing to the next. Some of us may say we were “successful” (or heading in that direction), working hard to accomplish goals for our future. But then we were abruptly thrown off the path. It was almost as if God was saying, “enough! We cannot continue like this. It’s time to stop.” And stop we did.
Whether we liked it or not, we halted, teetering and nearly losing our balance in the process. I, along with over 7,000 others, received an email telling us to pack our bags and be ready to get on a flight out of the country the next morning. Simultaneously, the whole world began to shut down. Some received cancelled flights. Others had to cancel their weddings. Some people could no longer attend school, or it switched to online. Seniors did not get to walk for their graduation. Families had to mourn the sudden death of a family member. Long distance couples, families, and friends were suddenly faced with an undetermined amount of time apart. All of a sudden we couldn’t visit our grandparents or family members who are immunocompromised.
And may I just reiterate that we have lost an unbelievable amount of lives from the beginning of the year until now due to COVID-19? Over 1.2 million as of today to be exact.
The collective mourning of our world united us, as so many other things seemed to be dividing us. And still are.
It is the day before the presidential election here in the U.S. There is tension and there is true fear within some of us. This outcome will directly impact the lives of many people in this world, not just Americans. And within the fear, and with everything that we have been through, I just wish that something good could come out of this year. I ache for there to be a sense of wholeness within our societies–a connection after a shared experience. Maybe that is wishful thinking, but I will hold onto that hope. Maybe it won’t be all of us, but perhaps some of us will be brought together throughout this experience. After witnessing a global pandemic, race-induced hatred and violence, widespread environmental disasters, and such surmounting loss, we need Jesus. And we need rest. And we also need to resist. And show resilience.
Our lives have been uprooted and now we are here. Wherever “here” is for you, I hope that you can be present and be a force of love and light. Be pure goodness in a moment of uncertainty. Stand firm when everyone feels like they are just regaining their balance after that first push.
And, yes, throughout all of this, I have decided to write. For me it is an act of self-love. An act of service to God. It is the process of being true to who I was created to be. And hopefully overtime it can also be a way to amplify the voices of those around me. A way to show stories and appreciate the beauty and strength that exists in those around us. That is my dream. As we get started, thank you for being here from the beginning. Bare with me as we figure this out together. This blog I forsee growing and shifting as I hear what God wants me to talk about. And as He points me towards those who need to be listened to. As I travel (COVID-19 permitting), I will showcase my photography of those places on my home page. I will also be sharing the thoughts of my fellow writer, my friend, my sister, and someone I look up to greatly, Carmen Carrillo. We will be discussing a wide range of topics, writing about what we feel is important, and working together as an act of worship. Writings will be posted sometimes in English, sometimes in Spanish, sometimes both.
23-year-old Camille feels stronger sitting here than she did 9 months ago, 8 months ago, or maybe even 2 months ago. I’ve been reading The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry written by Portland author and pastor John Mark Comer. It is a brilliant piece of art and I highly recommend it for everyone, but especially those of us living in fast-paced America–which seems unwilling to slow down even during a pandemic. One reason this pandemic has been difficult for me personally is that I often feel like my worth is tied to my accomplishments, my successes, what I am able to produce. I did well in school, I produced a bachelor’s degree, I travelled to Europe and to Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago and then to Guatemala. I joined the Peace Corps. Things were going right. And then I was told to leave–for my safety, of course. And what was I able to produce in the middle of a pandemic living back with my parents with no money and no job? Well, it was a little bit of a slap in the face and a wake up call, if I am going to be honest with you. I realized that I cannot base my worth on what I do. My worth is based in my identity as a daughter of God. My worth is based in my heart and my ability to speak truth and my ability to apologize and listen and just try my damn hardest. Nothing I do will ever make me less than what I was created to be. My worth is firm and unwavering. And so is yours, for a matter of fact. Back to the book i’m reading. The whole theme of it is to slow way down. Because we are more than what we do. And I think we all need to remember that right now.
Don’t take it from me, or even John Mark Comer. Take it from Jesus.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11v28-30.
Well written, Camille. Insightful and genuine. Keep it up.
You have understood , at 23, what many people understand much later in life … or, actually, never understand. Your desire for a relationship with God had led you to write. It’s the overflow of your strong faith.
I enjoy reading about your faith and trust in our Savior. Laurence Schumann