Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"Like a bridge over troubled waters..."

"When you're weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes,
I will dry them all;
I'm on your side. when times get rough
And friends just can't be found,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down..."

- Paul Simon

Saturday morning I witnessed a moment of love and courage that took my breath away...again.  Camp is full of those moments, and this summer is no different.   Moments when someone lays there own self-interest down to become a "bridge over troubled waters" for a camper, a friend...a cousin.

Saturday was Sunday for Sky Valley campers (the 3rd through 8th graders whose schedule accommodated Sunday School on Saturday this session).  Part of the Sunday tradition is an early morning 5K (or 3.1 mile) run through the South Woods.  Our daughters, Emma and Clara, along with their cousins and friends, love to participate in this opportunity to run through the woods, around the Round Up corral, down the road that bisects the high school level part of camp, and through a gaunlet of cheering high-schoolers on their way back down to Sky Valley.

I love it because it is a mid-camp opportunity to see the girls and to cheer on my nieces and my daughters' friends.  Clara came through the gaunlet with her friend, Cecily, smiling and strong.  I asked her where Emma was, and she indicated that her sister was somewhere behind her, so I stayed put waiting for her to come down the road.  When I caught a glimpse of her running along side her cousin, Tatiana, I was surprised to see tears in her eyes.

She avoided running through the bridge of raised arms...teens whooping and hollering...and ran straight towards me.  She collapsed into my arms in tears.  Tati stood next to us, rubbing her back and assuring her that she would be fine.  I walked her to the porch of my cabin and Tati followed, nursing her heart as we went.  In the midst of her tears she encouraged Tati to return to the race, telling her she would be okay. 

Then her tears really started to flow.  When her sobbing quieted a bit she told me that she wasn't crying because of the painful blisters that had screamed at her through the race, the cramps in her side that had taken her breath away in the middle of the woods, or the upset feeling in her tummy that made her want to lie down.  No, she was weeping because she was so amazed and grateful that her cousin had given up the possibility of winning the race to stay with her all along the trail.

This meant so much to Emma.  Perhaps it is because Emma loves to win races.  She is fast and she likes to compete.  The thought that her cousin would slow her pace to little more than a walk to care for her was heart-breakingly remarkable...and her. With a much-appreciated ride from a loving bunkhouse mom, Emma returned to Sky Valley already feeling much better.

While we waited for her to be picked up at my cabin, I explained to Emma that her cousin had won more than a race that day.  She had won the respect of everyone who knew what she had done.  She had won the love and admiration of her cousin, her aunt, and anyone who had discerned her sacrifice.  She had won a battle with the ego that always wants us to care more about self-interest than others.

Tati was my hero that morning.  She taught my daughter a lesson more important than how to win a foot race.  She taught her the true meaning of courage.  The root of the word "courage" is the Latin "couer" or heart.  Whenever we let our hearts speak more loudly to us than the voice of self-interest or personal accomplishment, we are at our most courageous best. 

"...When you're down and out,
When you're on the street,
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you.
I'll take your part.
When darkness comes
And pains is all around,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

Sail on silver girl,
Sail on by.
Your time has come to shine.
All your dreams are on their way.
See how they shine.
If you need a friend
I'm sailing right behind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind."

Thank you Tati, I love you...
Aunt Kate
Kate Robertson, CS

[photo credit:  Lila June Jones...Tati's mommy]

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