In mid-October, 53 of us gathered for the inaugural Wild Heart STL BASIC Bootcamp at High Hill Camp. We were blessed with nice weather, facilities that met our needs, hosts who ran the camp smoothly and kept us fed.
You came in dribs and drabs, individuals and in clusters. Your weeks ranged from good to tumultuous to “under siege”. You took a step of faith that 3 full days set aside to invest in your spiritual well-being was worth a shot. Some of you came in well acquainted with the teaching of John Eldredge and his team. Others might have read one of his books years ago. And more than a handful were actually willing to show up based on little more than a friend saying, “Trust me, you’re going to get something out of it.”
You were urged to disconnect from technology and your daily concerns and responsibilities. If you felt an urge to isolate, or project an image you are comfortable with, or even get gone, you were in the middle of the bell curve. But, you stuck around. You snagged your bunk and introduced yourself to those around you. You let all those guys in light blue hoodies learn your name, express gratitude for your having showed up, and ease you into the weekend.
Meals were full of antics (“Volcano!!” and thrown garlic bread) and ample food. Conversational dynamics at tables were interesting – given the ban on defining ourselves by what we do for a living, and by an early session that showed us all how posing is a way we protect and compensate around areas of vulnerability. Over the weekend, hundreds of raw, painful, important, inspiring conversations took place. How rare is that?
We found out that Genesis 1:1 isn’t Act I, but rather Act III. Wait, what? And the whole notion that we are in a great story where the world is a great spiritual battleground. John relayed info that gave us situational awareness that emphasized there’s an enemy that wants to take men out.
The movie clips rolled, the teaching intensified, and occasionally a team member would stand up and share from their heart. We got to know Russell Durrets, William Wallace, and Maximus Aurilius. We learned about wounds that have left our hearts in need of restoration. We learned of fig leaves, agreements with the enemy, and how the Father has the right to name his sons.
Most of us didn’t sleep that great – but that’s “bootcamp normal”. But, wow, the top notch coffee Paul made for us all weekend helped. The pre-meal jokes added some levity (remember the engraved bathroom scale that went from 0-200 in 2 seconds), and every prayer before, during, and after Basic helped usher in God’s work in our lives.
We learned that men are invigorated when they have a battle to fight, a beauty to rescue, and an adventure to live. We were not created to be bored and passive, but rather restored, reveling in freedom, and engaged in the physical and spiritual realms we exist in.
For many of us, the Covenants of Silence provided much needed time with God. It allowed us to process, personalize, and commune. It was a wonderful reminder that when we create time and space for encounters with God, He shows up! And when he does, it is a thrilling encounter.
We learned the folly of taking our question of “Do I have what it takes?” to Eve. We marveled at the small glimpses of what the restoration of all things might be like. We thought “Cool!” when we heard John say to temptations, “I have a whole heart. I don’t need that drug, pitfall, thing of the world… I’m good!”
Some of us got pretty beat up as we went deep into our wounds, situation, and M.O. The encouragement kept coming to invite Jesus into it, and to take it to God. The process is long. It’s going to take time. But little by little, freedom will become the song of our hearts. And as our hearts experience freedom, may we have the courage to live from it – for it is the wellspring of our lives.
It was evident from when we circled up and from conversations at campfires that each man had different takeaways – from fostering Father/Son relationships to recovering your heart/identity, to learning to hear and commune with God.