I’m at a special place this week. Fifty years ago, Jackson’s Point in Georgina, Ontario, hosted the first National Music School for the Canada & Bermuda territory of The Salvation Army. I have been fortunate enough to be invited as their Bible teacher for the past two years.
Each year, young musicians gather from all over Canada and Bermuda for 9 days for intense spiritual formation and musical training. Over these past five decades, God has changed lives through this event at this place. Relationships have been born here. Love has been found here. Careers have been launched, confirmed, shaped, redirected, and sometimes even resurrected here. Most importantly, and I’d suppose most memorably, people have found divine purpose here. They have heard from God here. They have walked away transformed and brought all of that back to their hometowns, their schools, their jobs, their families, their entire lives.
An altar is a place where people meet God and are transformed. People have met God here, we have met God here. This is a holy place and this week is a holy week full of holy moments.
Throughout scripture, we see these kinds of places held closely and remembered for generations. We see people like Abraham and Jacob and so many others build altars in the places where God met with them. This place is no different.
I get to spend a week at an altar.
I get to walk the paths where so many have walked before, led by God to go in thousands of different directions. I get to stand on a stage where spiritual and musical heroes have poured themselves into the lives of others. I get to worship in a chapel where God has met generation after generation. I get to speak to leaders who began as mere learners, struggling to get through a piece of music and a season of life. I get to get to walk with others who have walked with others who have walked with others and the legacies are intertwined while the voices remain clear. I asked a few of those who are here with me about how special this place is to them.
For many, the auditorium came up as their memorable place. A few of those looked back on the Thursday nights (recent years) and Friday nights (a bit further back) as the poignant, reflective evenings of spiritual challenge. Another found peace at the end of the road, at the beach. Looking back on walks and moments of solitude that always seemed to grant the blessings that were most needed. The last thing he does before he leaves every year is drive down to the beach for one last look.
Some remembered moments more than places. Moments like when the voices of the Women’s Chorus sing on the opening Sunday morning, our first full day together. Others told me about moments at the altar praying with a mentor, a friend, a faculty member, a special guest. Or they recounted moments in the rehearsal spaces when someone finally “gets” it and the sense of accomplishment that fills band director or chorus leader and the musician at the same time.
This is a holy place.
This is a place of dedication. It’s a place of dedicated lives gathered to learn and to teach, of dedicated talents that are growing and strengthening, and of dedicated people who pour out their experience in daily blessings to dedicated young people.
It’s a place of decision. Decisions to follow God faithfully, decisions to pursue the talents that He has given, decisions to move forward toward God, toward others and even toward ourselves.
More than anything, though, this is a place of devotion. Of devoting ourselves first and foremost to God’s continuing and transforming work in our lives, of devoting ourselves to growth in our art and developing our craft, of devoting ourselves to the community and to relationships.
I’m at a special place this week. I found an altar and I found friends and I found God.
And I will leave transformed.