Ocean Park: Blowing In The Wind

Photo (above): Rachel Lookingbill~ Tie Dye Master Labor Day, 2013


Written by Mary Lookingbill, member at First UMC Vancouver,

I remember as if it was yesterday. I came out of Ocean Park’s dining hall and hanging on the outdoor clothesline were all of the tie dyed T-shirts that our church family had made earlier. They were blowing gently in the breeze and in that moment, I felt such a deep peace.  Just like the group of over 100 that had come together for the weekend, those T-shirts were similar but oh so unique.

Life gets busy. No longer do we let our children run the neighborhood or play outside until the sun goes down like I did when I was growing up in the 60’s.  Both parents work more frequently and families have to juggle individual schedules/lessons with group events such as church activities or volunteering. There doesn’t seem to be much “down time” anymore.

When we first came to Ocean Park for a Labor Day weekend with our church family, something amazing happened. With many eyes and hands to help out, our three daughters made new friends, played all day, participated in the shared meals and experienced community in a very special way.  My husband and I also made new friends, relaxed during the day, helped with the food and experienced our church family in a new way. The older children took care of the smaller ones, the seniors helped snuggle with the babies and everyone was at peace.  This weekend experience became a tradition and First Church in Vancouver has gone annually to Ocean Park for over 20 years!

Tradition is part of our faith and Ocean Park Labor Day holiday is a tradition for First Church.  For some, it is the only time one travels to this space; for others it is yet another time of gathering at this camp.  All year long the congregation plans for the three day weekend and it has proven to be  foundational in establishing intergenerational friendships.

God invites us to be together on earth, as it will be someday in heaven.  Sharing what we have, helping each other, celebrating our similarities and our differences and enjoying the majesty of God’s creation at the ocean’s edge … is how I believe God calls us to live.  We work hard in our local churches but are so blessed that there is a special place like Ocean Park where we can go to be renewed and inspired.