I have so many thoughts and words swirling around in my head that I don’t know where to begin. I have so much I want to say – so much thanks, so many memories, so many prayers.
As I write this I have no assurance of ever being at Csehy again. We hope and we dream, and perhaps someday there will be little Dunn staff children while their daddy speaks in chapel or mommy works in the office. Or perhaps in the faraway someday we’ll be head counselors, or be in charge of the Csehy Place. God alone knows who of you I’ll see again on earth, and when that will be. But even while we’re apart, while the pain of being away from such a sweet place is tender in our hearts, we can still encourage one another across the miles, while we must be away for a time.
For seven summers now, Csehy has been a haven for me. It’s been a place where I have grown spiritually, relationally, and musically. I think of the fourteen-year-old me that arrived at Csehy in 2008, shy of everyone and a beginner on the oboe, and how I’ve changed so much since that day. A lot of that is because of Csehy, and how God has used it in my life. There were people that first year, and every year since, who came alongside me and were patient with me – Mr. Stith, Mrs. Rawleigh, and Mrs. Harding especially. There were also people who reached out to make me feel welcome, and even though I was young and inexperienced and awkward, you cared about me and were a friend to me. It took me a while to let some of you do that – but I was missing out. Some of you seemed like giants to me then, and many of you are now good friends.
Now having been an older camper who understands a lot more musically (and who was one of those crazy composition majors – and we’re not incredibly smart, just stressed out and a little insane), I understand you more. To younger campers, we don’t think we’re better than you, and we don’t judge you by your ability. We’ve just had longer to grow. We were once in your shoes, and we haven’t by any means arrived – we have far to go as well. Your musicality or lack thereof doesn’t change our desire to be your friend, to encourage you. We don’t want to be giants to you, but older siblings and friends.
The more I think about it, the more I realize Csehy was a haven to me because of the people I chose to be with. We spoke of and cared about the things of the Lord. We laughed a lot, and I’m sure at times were childish and immature. But the best times were when we had our Bibles open or were talking about the things God had done. It was rich spiritually, and though the musical side of it was good (as was Frisbee), that was what always drew me back. It was what drove every lesson with Mrs. Rawleigh, and often we talked more of God than of music. How ever long I was there for, I could rest from trials of real life and bask in fellowship and teaching.
When I was too old to be a camper any more, I applied to be a counselor in 2013, wanting to invest in others even as I had been invested in by my counselors. And even though I couldn’t be there very long this year (2014) and meet all of you, there’s still much I long to say to everyone who has ever been at Csehy.
My fellows in the bubble, God isn’t just a section of your life or of your summer. At Csehy, we put Him in music and Frisbee, at the start and end of each day. Csehy is a place for friends and fun, but it’s about so much more than that. I rejoiced at how many times what Csehy really is about was driven home: if you’re not right with God, your conductor won’t mind you missing band/orchestra/choir if you’re getting right with Him. He is far more important than the concert. We hear it. We listen. We nod. But for many of you, that’s not your lifestyle at home, or your heart attitude, even at Csehy. You know enough Christian lingo to cover up the state of your heart while you’re at Csehy. You may even have a testimony to share with your hall. But that only makes it worse, because we can only help those who know they’re sick and hurting, even if we can see behind your mask – which we often can. The blank stares during devos or chapel , the meandering through the halls of practice rooms when you should be doing something else, and the way you interact with authority and other campers gives away your heart.
Some of you don’t understand how all-encompassing His word or His call on your life is. I want you to know that. I want you to know that it effects how you treat your parents and your siblings. How you dress (purple isn’t just rules at Csehy. There are matters of the heart behind it!). How you think of and treat the opposite gender. How you move towards marriage someday. How we talk about everything. How your life and salvation is not about you, but about Him – He saved you for His glory more than for your own gain – do you love Him for who He is, or just what He’s done for you? How He is so awesome and great that our every thought and conversation could be on Him and we’d never tire – so why don’t we spend all our time together focused on Him? Why do we deteriorate into surface level friendships when we could have so much?
When we forget Him in what we do, we lose the depth that life can have and Csehy becomes just a place of fun instead of being all it can be. Csehy is a safe place. Joy. Rest. A place to be challenged, equipped, prepared, loved – loving one another as Jesus said to.
That’s why we all find it so hard to leave. Nowhere have I been unconditionally loved by so many, encouraged by so many, or challenged by so many as I have at Csehy. Many of my closest friendships have been made or deepened at Csehy. When we leave, we’re leaving days full of constant fellowship, solid teaching, and fun rooted in love for one another and love for God. The difficulty we have adjusting back to normal life proves how good Csehy is.
And yet, Csehy is a place to be equipped and then be sent out. Last year as all the counselors prepared to leave, Mr. Haynes likened it to a dandelion spreading. We were all together for a time, and then the wind was blowing and we were all being driven to our own places, to be planted there, growing and spreading in the places we live. The Csehy spirit isn’t just for Csehy. It’s something that we can bring everywhere, changing our families, churches, and communities, as we love and encourage people at home like we did at Csehy.
Some of us will be back at Csehy next summer, perhaps full of stories of how God worked through us because of what we learned at Csehy. I’m reminded of the parable of the talents. Csehy is like a talent we’ve been given, and if we go home and all we can think about is being back at Csehy, then we’re burying the talent instead of investing it like the faithful servants did (Matthew 25:14-30).
Some of us are called to keep returning. Others are not. But whichever it is for me, whether that door is closed for ever or for a few years, not being at Csehy doesn’t equate forever goodbyes or forgetting what Csehy was or not ever being with members of that family again. I thought – or rather felt – like it did for a long time. I also thought that being content away from Csehy meant denying all the good that was at Csehy. Yet contentment isn’t apathy but choosing Him. It’s not denying the pain or the missing people, but choosing to be joyful where we are. To be content here doesn’t mean that Csehy is nothing now, but that I know where God has placed me is the best place for me.
I was nervous about leaving Csehy early and spending my summer away from Csehy while so many of my favorite people were there having a great time. And yet I had such a clear understanding of where I was supposed to be that it wasn’t that hard to be away, not because I didn’t miss it and everyone there, but because I know that God has a reason for me to be in San Diego right now instead of at Csehy. There was a time where Csehy bore fruit in my life and I bore fruit there, but right now, that fruit-bearing is meant to be happening elsewhere.
I love you all. I want to see every one of you know Him more, know the richness of His Word and of Him – to let Him be what drives you to Csehy, and what keeps you through Post-Csehy depression later – because you are filled by Him, and not by Csehy, and because you know His goodness and His sovereignty to place you where you are, whether it’s at Csehy or away from it.
Beloved brothers and sisters – and those not yet in the fold – may the Lord bless you and keep you. May He make his face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you, and give you peace – true peace, shalom, peace with Him – amen. Seven-fold amen, may it be so in completeness.