Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I miss camp

I miss camp...I've been home for a month now and I have been asking myself the question "what is it about camp that I miss?" The answer is so palpable and present:

I miss you....yes, you!  Everyone of you.  14 year old skateboarder...i miss our conversations on the porch of the Crowsnest Reading Room about your hero... a Christian skateboard champion who uses boarding as his way of proving his trust in God and his adherence to Jesus' admonition to "go and do likewise".  Sitting with you and flipping through your issue of magazines like Thrasher, Switch and Juice was enlightening, inspiring and humbling.   I had long relegated skateboarding to a sub-culture that I had no interest in or connection with.  Your introduction to Christian heroes like Jud Heald and Stephen Baldwin made me want to be more inclusive in how I interact with the boarders I step aside for during our walks through "the Loop" every evening.

I miss you "miss young, tan, blonde and beautiful"....one conversation on the bench by the bell tower and I was forever changed in the way I thought about 16 year old girls who drive new SUVs and never wear the same outfit twice. Your heart was so full of tenderness for your family.   Your deep desire to be good  shatters any lingering societal  illusion that would say that teenage girls want something different at 17 than they wanted at 4.   You still want to be loved by your mommy and daddy.  You still want to know that you have friends who like you for who you are....not what you can buy or what you wear.  You still want to love generously and live with a feeling of true security, security that is based in the certainty that there is a power larger than the world you have been taught by society to believe consists of financial portfolios and a summer home in the Hamptons.  You taught me...again....that there is, within each of us,  a deep inherent innocence that breaks the dream of self-indulgence we are constantly being sold on by the media through daily doses of reality tv and gossip magazines.   When I reminded you that you ARE (and always have been) good...the tears that poured down your cheeks washed us both clean of those false images.

I miss you "quiet boy who sat to the side and read Harry Potter during the dance". ...I miss discovering that you wanted to dance but didn't know how and were afraid of being thought foolish by the cute girl in your program who always seemed so confident.  I miss the ache in your voice when you told me that you thought she was "perfect" but that you also thought she would never even think of noticing you.   And oh, how I miss watching how, after we talked about the difference between what you
thought she would think of you and her right to know how "perfect" you though she was, you got up and marched right over and asked her to dance.  I have rarely been more proud of a young man whose fear of rejection was trumped by his realization that she deserved to know that someone saw her as kind, good and beautiful because of her character and her joy.

I miss you, Cassidy....I miss your example of individuality, honestly and conviction.  I miss that smile that never failed to light up the darkness of self-doubt and uncertainty in those around you.  I miss your courage in taking "the road less traveled" and "the path most unlikely".  I miss your way of looking at the world around you and your willingness to recast it for us all through the lens of your camera, your heart, and your drawings.  I miss walking into a room and knowing that because you are there my experience will be full of beauty, humor, and kindness.  I miss watching the world through your eyes and seeing something new that is worth noticing in the what might seem small and insignificant to others.  I miss wondering everytime I see you "what is it like to look at the world through Cassidy's eyes?" and trying my best to bring your special brand of seeing to everything I do.

I miss you, "counselors for the summer who are headed into the Peace Corps in the Fall".  I miss each of you...I love the hope for the world that this commitment represents.  I miss feeling like I loved your destinations in South America, Asia, Africa, and eastern Europe vicariously through your heart's devotion to their children, their families, and their villages and cities.   I miss watching the way you would come to staff inspirational at the break of dawn each morning with a renewed joy (or a willingness for one) so inspiring that my own body leapt to service by your example and that of your fellow counselors.  I loved watching you craft saris and turbans (out of bed sheets and towels) on Ballywood night to dance in celebration of God's universal and impartial goodness.  I love and miss each of you more than you can know.

I miss...every camper, counselor, camp director, bunkhouse mom/dad, cook, bus driver, office manager, enrollment coordinator, wrangler, ranchhand....I miss what you taught me about humanity's goodness and the universality of it's desire to love and be loved.  I look for the heart of who you are in every face I meet on the street, every voice on the phone. 

Yesterday I walked into the coffeehouse at the end of my block here in the city.  It is my Valerie Lodge in the middle of  "camp St. Louis"   I was looking for you...each of you.  Imagine my delight when there you were....not just in the face of Justin behind the counter, or Oliver the professor from Wash U. who loves Russian poetry....it really was YOU....two of the counselors I spent an amazing five weeks with at camp in Colorado were in my neighborhood....

And people question whether prayers are answered....


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