Have you ever gone to church with a camel?

All close relationships, whether among friends or family, include fantastically enjoyable inside jokes. Inside jokes can add a lot of fun. We think inside jokes are great.

Over the last week, we’ve been sharing a lot of serious thoughts. It’s time to mix things up a bit, and let you all in on one of our inside jokes. Humor is just as much a part of intimacy as sharing from an incredibly vulnerable place.

So with that, we ask, “Have you ever gone to church with a camel?”

This question is probably one of the strangest you’ve ever been asked (unless you live in an area where it’s customary to bring camels to church. If you do hail from that kind of community, would you be willing to post a picture in the comments?)

Anyone who has ever had the privilege of being around a napping Lindsey can attest to the fact that you never know what a napping Lindsey is capable of saying. While sleeping, Lindsey tends to ramble constantly. Some frequent topics include (but are not limited to) the following: the physics of water balloons, creative poetical explorations, industrial engineering, diverse letters we wish we could actually send to people, Lindsey’s alter-ego that is a self-proclaimed superhero, and theological rants of various stripes. Because Lindsey never knows what sleeping Lindsey is going to say, Lindsey has grown accustomed to asking for regular sleep-talking reports.

Two Christmases ago, we drove the wildest circuit across multiple states to visit with our friends and families. For three weeks, we spent just about every waking (and sleeping) moment together as we logged over 3000 miles in Lindsey’s car while stopping at hotels along the way. Several other couples we know have commented on how traveling together can act as a crucible to forge a relationship. We’re prone to agree, especially as we never once turned on the music in the car throughout this whole trip because we were so engrossed in conversation.

One night on this trip, the ever-creative sleeping Lindsey asked very loudly, “Have you ever gone to church with a camel?” Sarah had not yet had this experience. After we both woke up in the morning, Sarah delivered the sleep-talking report while laughing hysterically. Lindsey thought this question was rather brilliant and decided to search for a cuddly (stuffed) camel.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a camel? [NB: It’s really really really hard. If you’re looking for one to purchase for yourself, it’s worth praying that a beloved small person in your life avoids camels as a prime animal of interest.]

Over the next couple of months, we searched for a camel. We went to various malls, to specialty toy stores, to museums, to zoos…. you name it. No camel. In April, we found ourselves on another road trip to Saint Louis, Missouri. Sarah had previously lived in Saint Louis and suggested that we go and check out the penguins at the Saint Louis Zoo. Lindsey thinks zoos rock and that penguins can only make a zoo cooler, so off we went. We arrived at the zoo much later than hoped for and found ourselves trying to make the most of the hour before the zoo would close. We bolted immediately to the penguin exhibit. Along the way, we noted that the Saint Louis Zoo also has camels. Since we didn’t exactly have time to traverse all the way over to the camel enclosure, Lindsey had the bright idea of scouring the gift shop to see if there was a camel.

We looked all over the store. At first we found a couple of resin camel figurines, which weren’t exactly what we were looking for. We asked at the register. The person working the register that day seemed to have a vague idea that there might be some stuffed camels among the rest of the African animals. We looked, we kept looking, and we looked some more. We looked as individuals, we looked as a team of three, and we still looked. Finally, on a high shelf towards the left side of the display, we spotted the camel. Victorious, we went to the register to complete the transaction.

Cleopas the Camel

Cleopas wanted to say, “Hello”

We left the store with our new camel tucked securely under Lindsey’s arm. Lindsey is an ardent believer in quickly naming new additions to the family, and we promptly settled on Cleopas. After all, the desire for our camel came from our travels together. One traveler’s blessing we particularly enjoy says, “As you O Lord journeyed with Luke and Cleopas on the road to Emmaus….” Our camel was much more a Cleopas than a Luke.

Our camel has joined us on many traveling adventures and many trips to church on Sunday. Cleopas remains safely in the backseat of the car throughout the service; we figure that most people didn’t bring their camels into the church building with them. For us, Cleopas is not only the result of an inside joke, but is more importantly a symbol of the joy we experience while we travel together.

In case you are wondering, Cleopas did join us on our recent trip to Chicago. Camels are very useful on long road trips.

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12 thoughts on “Have you ever gone to church with a camel?

  1. I can attest to the difficulties of finding toy camels. A few years ago my church needed a dozen toy camels for a holiday club and wound up staying up half the night to make them ourselves. We let the kids chose names for their mascots and predictably all twelve teams voted to call their camel ‘Humpy’. A decade later it is still an in-joke among some of the leaders, many of whom decided to purchase their team’s camel at the end of the week.

  2. Great story! Loving your blog…very insightful. I totally agree that road trips can make relationships. Q and I have been on several road trips in our years together and we always seem to learn more about each other on each one.

  3. Faithfully reading your blog, Sarah and Linsey! This was really cute. I remember the first time Luke and I traveled together. We talked the whole way there (and back).

    What a heartwarming little story! 🙂

  4. Oh, this is the epitome of sweet – I love it. Do you have a WWCS (What Would Cleopas Say) litmus test on things? I used to do that with my stuffed bulldog who I’ve had since I was a kid (Viv is her name). She may have to come to service with me. She’d be fine in the car.

    So glad to have found your blog! Thank you.

    • So glad you have found us and have joined the ranks of our commenters. We love having Cleopas with us on our travels. Sometimes we jokingly ask where Cleopas would like to visit next. Cleopas is joined by other stuffed creatures from our individual childhoods as well. Glad to hear Viv is still with you!

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