As I begin writing my account of Cornerstone 2000, I realize that I’m in that post-Cornerstone daze. I know it happened, I know I spent a week in Bushnell, Illinois at this Christian arts festival, but it all seems too distant and surreal. I have these memories of seeing countless bands, of braving ghastly weather, or meeting new and old friends, but they exist in this wierd, amorphous state not unlike when you’re half-asleep, half-awake.
Cornerstone has always been an intensely spiritual event for me. Being stuck in adverse physical conditions opens you up for fellowship and communion in ways that you’d never think of when surrounded by showers, air conditioning, and hot food.
However, this year was very different for me. I wouldn’t say I have one of those spiritual “highs” like those I got on a high school missions trip. However, I found this year to be populated with tiny moments of perfection, when everything crystallizes in a brief moment and you feel safe, secure, and immensely happy.
At the risk of sounding melodramatic and nostalgic, here are a few.
Exhibit A: Before Cornerstone, I went to Chicago to visit my friend Ruth. However, I made a big mistake, and got hopelessly lost. I hate being lost with a passion. It leaves me helpless, paranoid, and angry. However, I can’t explain the comfort I felt when I finally got a hold of Ruth and heard her voice. That simple phonecall, with another human voice on the other end, was the best thing that happened. Of course, I was still lost, but I didn’t feel as lost any more. And I can’t describe the joy I felt when I finally found the highway I needed to take.
Exhibit B: My biggest fear rolling into Cornerstone was that I would not find any of my friends. Nolan had arrived on Sunday, as had my other friends, but I was certain we wouldn’t find each other. However, who should come running out from amongst all of the cars but Nolan, with my friends right behind him. Within a day or two, we had a giant community camping together. Funny how things like that work out.
Exhibit C: If you saw me during the first couple of days at Cornerstone, you could’ve recognized me by the big, goofy grin on my face and a dorky fisherman’s hat on my head. That 279 acre campground never ceases to have that effect on me. When I imagine heaven, I see Cornerstone, without all of the sweat and rain. Or maybe it’ll have all of the sweat and rain. I’ll just be too happy to notice.
Exhibit D: There’s nothing like sitting at your campsite after a long day of seeing shows, surrounded by friends old and new, and cracking jokes and getting a little bawdy (or a little TOO bawdy in our case). Perhaps our humor got too randy, but that’s not the point. The point was that I was surrounded by people I loved and who loved me, and for that one moment, everything we said was the funniest thing in the world.
Exhibit E: I saw Denison Witmer on Thursday. He began to play a song called “Steven” and the girl in front of me began to cry. It reminded me again of the simply beautiful power of a simple song, that a few notes played in a certain order can dredge up memories of love, loss, and friendship. Sometimes I think I’m the only one who thinks like that. Cornerstone reminds me that I’m not.
Exhibit F: I was standing with my friends during the Pedro The Lion concert, our eyes a little moist, and I looked around the packed tent. Everyone was singing along, their eyes a little moist as well, and I just had to wonder why God allows us to experience times like these. It wasn’t praise and worship, it wasn’t communion, but it was just as spiritual and tangible. I wouldn’t have traded it for any church service in the world.
So those are what I took from Cornerstone this year. It was a spiritual experience, but not one that left me drained and exhausted. Rather, it was one that left me reflective and content.
God doesn’t always work by moving mountains or parting seas. More often than not, He works in those little things that we never take time to appreciate until all of the big things are removed from our focus. That was what Cornerstone was about this year.
Sorry I don’t have a glib little statement to sum it all up, but suffice to say, I wasn’t disappointed. Just satisfied and refreshed. And eagerly awaiting next year.