This is the last day of my time as Chaplain at Crossroads Summer Camp which is up in the hilly countryside of north western New Jersey. It’s been a slow and achingly beautiful week.
I spent mid-morning doing Bible study on the porch of a cabin full of 3rd grade boys. They fumbled in the back of their Action Bibles to find “The Acts of the Apostles”. With slumped shoulders and a wave of blue in the blond hair under his cap, Ethan leaned over the strange tale in gape mouthed innocence. I imagine to an eight year old boy these anecdotes of God and people reaching for each other are like unidentifiable, flying bugs; interesting, alien and too strange to touch or try and catch for closer examination. The story of the Apostles sharing everything they had buzzed around Ethan’s water bottle and the bench where his friend was making an obstacle course for an inch worm with two sticks.
During Camp Store Sophia brought me an acorn cap because I told her if she did I could show her how to make it whistle. Surprised little girls don’t teach each other this trick anymore, I bent my thumb knuckles over the rim, pressed my lips against them and blew. A high pitched squeal bounced against the trees and turned the heads of everyone waiting in line for the bathroom. Sophia’s eyes widen with amazement. Really, anything could happen in this world.
At Dinner last night I sat next to Maddie. “Look,” she said pointing under our picnic bench where yellow jackets were feasting on pieces of garlic bread which she had dropped on purpose by our feet. Not wanting to seem like a scaredy cat, I noted that I had no idea yellow jackets like bread.
“They like the salt I put on it.” She explained
“You’re very observant.” I offered, but she corrected me again.
“I’m nosey. My Mom says.”
After dinner I took a walk. Wandering on a wooded path I tried to figure out why, when I was young every summer seemed like it belonged to me but now, when walking a country mile in August I distinctly feel like an interloper.
Maybe it’s because, although I’ve seen decades worth of summers, every one exists as if it was the only summer that has ever been. One August doesn’t tell the next what people have done to themselves and the whole world.
Also, this adolescent rabbit who was watching me and doesn’t know his camouflage isn’t working also doesn’t know that both of us are just meant for now. If only there was a way to say to him and to the crickets and the moss “We belong to each other!” and then apologize for not having loved enough.
At a bend in the path I come upon a field, waste high with purple weeds, butter and dragon flies. It’s holier than all cathedrals and anything Augustine ever wrote.
Caught off guard by this demand to delight, I suddenly remember how I’ve been holding the world at bay. Even now with the dead in Dayton and El Paso, even now with children crying for their parents who were carted off to jail for trying to get them safely across our country’s boarder, even as we hate each other and call that truth telling, God insists on August. There will be Queen Ann’s Lace and red winged black birds. We will have a field with cattails and loosestrife. Somewhere a cicada calls out the psalm for vespers and the chanting begins.
Lord, teach me to love like this. Show me where to push down the knuckles of my soul while there’s still time. Let me sing whatever song you meant to come from me.
Your sister in Christ,