Sunday, August 26, 2012
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Friday, August 24, 2012
The family campers file quietly and orderly into the cafeteria.
They take turns in line.
They are happy with the food we have in the cafe.
They don't require much.
They pay attention during programs.
They follow the rules.
They say the right things and smile at all the right times.
The blind campers enter everywhere with volume and disorder.
They bump into unsuspecting victims.
They want toast and oatmeal and orange juice and hot chocolate and bacon. Even if there is no bacon.
They need constant attention and direction. To know where the door knob resides.
They talk back to the actors in the dramas and laugh too long and make lots of noise.
They seem to forget the rules. Or dislike the rules and pick which ones they'll abide by.
They say the wrong things and misbehave at all the wrong times.
The family campers are "normal."
The blind campers are "different."
The family campers fit into our society because they are polite and they look right.
The blind campers come out of the woodwork once in awhile to engage with a world that sees them as "the other" kind of human being.
But I really like these "others."
Adam tells jokes about pickles and Barack Obama.
Sylvia snuggles up to Adam while he shaves her chin. At camp council.
Timothy runs. And trips. And gets back up again. To run. And trip.
Matthew shoots paintballs at the moving human target and asks, "Did I hit him?" while a staff member guides his gun.
Beth asks to sing the morning prayer song. Then shys as far from the mic as possible.
Mike shamelessly promotes his best bud's musical abilities by asking everyone, "Do you have an iTunes account? You've gotta check out my friend Tom's music!"
Bonnie paints ceramics. Completely blind. And loves it.
These "others" remind me that life need not be so clean and orderly and culturally acceptable.
What if your laugh resonates across the lake when the rest of the audience is quiet?
Who says pottery must be painted within the lines?
Who says that children who can't see are better than children who can?
Who says the farting sounds aren't hilarious?
Tonight, the speaker asked the campers, "What do you think heaven will be like?" Every little family camper said, "We'll play with lions!" and "I'll have a six-story mansion!" and "Pizza will grow on trees!"
But every blind camper said, "I won't be blind anymore," and "There will be no more pain and suffering," and "I'll see God face-to-face."
While these two distinct groups behave quite differently day-to-day in ways I don't always understand, their view of God is even more diverse. They are longing--spiritually and physically--for a God of restoration to come and make them free and whole. They are living day-in and day-out in a body that doesn't perform the way they wish it did, waiting with incredible hope, that God will do what He said He'd do.
I cringe at the thought that these blind campers have probably been stared at, talked about, or laughed at because they don't fit into our socially-mediated box. They didn't choose this. But their picture of God offers more clarity than my eyes may ever see.
Monday, August 20, 2012
Sunday, August 19, 2012
So, today, I had the thought: I'm done. It's been a crazy twelve weeks. Must we really go thirteen?
After having this thought, the remainder of the day looked gloomier, darker, ugh-er. The mind is a powerful thing and because we still have a week left, I want to get through it with all the joy and optimism I can muster.
I will count every beautiful thing I see.
Little blond boy camper who gives me hugs.
Meeting one of the 1844 founder guys. He's a family camper this week.
Wednesday night's sunset. Probably the prettiest I've seen all summer.
The staff quartet who sang us a love song.
Jeremy taking me on a fancy date. To the top of a mountain.
A good run.
Legs. Eyesight. Hearing. Taste. Arms. A heart. Lungs. Skin.
Money in the bank.
A camper this week with autism who brightens my day with her dance.
Random texts of encouragement from my Dad.
Getting mail. Via the U.S. Postal Service.
Hula hoop competitions.
Fresh, clean air.
A pretty new skirt.
Newly shaved legs and clean bed sheets.
Blind camp coming tomorrow.
Knowing that we will find some kind of normal (outside of camp) soon.
Monday, August 13, 2012
These first three months of marriage at camp have been hard. Neither of us has felt very happy. And while it's hard to say: that's okay.
In June, it was not okay. Not happy? Why are we not happy? What are we doing wrong? What's wrong with our marriage?
In July, it was not okay. Not happy, still? What's wrong with everyone else? Why can't they make us happy? Or maybe it's us? Did we bring this on ourselves?
In August (on the 13th @ 6:28pm), it's okay. This is a season. It's not the season I had hoped for and not a season I would necessarily want to repeat, but "happy" is still available to us even if these first few months have been lacking.
When "happy" feels so far away, I tend to get anxious. Scared. Unsure. As if this season determines all other seasons of our life. Forever. But I know, that there is a time for everything, and I'm hoping that the "happy" portion of that time comes around again soon. And chances are, it will. Because it always does. Even when I'm sure it won't. It will.
These three months have been important.
Thank you, first three months, for what we have felt and tasted and seen and learned.
Our contract ends in less than two weeks and we'll be happy to pack up the truck, clean out our desks, and depart for our next adventure. Currently, the plan is to take our time driving to Colorado; maybe stop in Bozeman or Arches National Park (pretty much anything we can do cheaply). Then we're going to our friend, Alicia's, wedding. We hope to see a few friends on our drive through the mountains and spend some time with my parents on the other side (...of the mountain).
At this point, the plan is to head back to good 'ol Nebraska. It's been home to us for a few years and we have truly wonderful friends and family there. This summer, I've been reminded of how very important those friends and family are.
We're looking forward to finding a home.
Spending time together.
Spending time with people we love.
Capturing some sense of normal.
Enjoying moments where we can do un-normal things.
Planning for the future.
Throwing parties for no reason at all.
Discovering new places.
And relishing in old ones.
Saturday, August 11, 2012
I’ve named her Grace.
This starts to look much like those cartoons we've all seen with a good and bad presence on each shoulder. But I've never seen those images and found them to be un-true. They've always made complete sense. Because I've lived with Helga for awhile. I've become familiar with the notion she preaches that with just the right amount of self-hatred and contempt, maybe, just maybe, I'll be good enough. But that's never how it works. Grace reminds me that I can't get to a place of love and balance and peace with hatred and name-calling and cruelty. Grace is good like that. She speaks the voice of truth I've always known, but needs uncovering.
Disclaimer: I am no artist. So I have no idea why Helga is larger proportionately or why her eyes are so huge. Their hands are behind their backs, because drawing hands is so flippin' difficult.But the act of giving these forces a face was important for me. There's a reason why they are both female in my mind, why Helga's breasts are larger and clothes are skimpier. There's a reason why Grace has freckles and a smile. Through this process, I realized how much these things matter.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
That I am delicate and incapable.
Only a few wise thoughts here and there.
The routine I find myself in for most of the year instructs me to play small.
To game it up here and there, but at the given and appropriate times.
We do indoor things.
We play card games.
We use our inside voices.
My nails grow long.
As does my leg hair because it's rarely seen.
My limbs are clean and scrape-free.
My skin becomes a pale white.
My one-piece swimsuit lines disappear.
My movement is restricted mostly to planned events.
Six AM workouts.
Frisbee at the park.
But camp is different.
Opportunities arise without a moments notice.
I move. A lot.
I play hard.
I eat to fuel my muscles.
I crash and burn.
I run and dodge.
I get dirt under my finger nails.
I go skinny dipping.
That just doesn't happen in Nebraska most the time.
I am drained by the sun and the sweat.
Showers soothe the aches and the bruises.
And I crash into my bed exhausted and ready for rest.
Yes, camp is good at reminding me how very capable I am.
I can learn to wake surf.
I can climb stuff.
I can play hard.
So, here's to sunning it up in Nebraska.
To more nights under the stars.
To making time for physical challenges.
To testing my body (outside of the gym).
To trying new things.
Here's to adventure.
Saturday, August 4, 2012
I asked Justin, what I assumed to be a no-brainer question: "Did going through this accident and recovery make you have a far greater appreciation for life itself?"
"I wish it affected me more," he replied honestly. "I wish I thought it about it every day and was eternally grateful, but I've just kinda moved on. I'm grateful to be alive, of course. But it's not like I think about all the time."
What makes Justin so resilient? How has he been able to recover and move on with so little emotion as he re-tells the story of the day he almost died?
* * * * *
My dear Grandpa (who just passed away in May), outlived three wives. His first wife died of cancer. His second wife died in a car accident. His third wife also died of cancer. I wouldn't have blamed him for dying of a broken heart, but he didn't. His body just gave out, but his spirit never ceased. How did he have the strength to get up every morning? How did he remain such an optimistic, whole-hearted person until the day he breathed his last?
* * * * *
My lovely friend, Kylie, just returned from a visit to Nepal. Alone. She didn't know anyone before she left. She took these amazingly vivid pictures of the children she met and the places she visited. She told me stories about her travels, her experiences, and how excited she is to go back. She will be moving there soon and staying for three years. Wow. How is she so brave? How does she adapt so well to completely foreign environments and still honestly enjoy herself?
* * * * *
I wanted Justin to tell me that he had nightmares. That he spent months recovering. That he still fears being around boats. That the sight of that bloody wet suit sent him into a panic. That he's still figuring out how to move on. But he's not. He's fine.
He's just fine.
* * * * *
On Monday, I asked my counselor (over the phone), if there is some sort of gene that makes certain people more resilient than others.
"Well, that's a nearly impossible question to answer, because it implies that we're all equally equipped creatures from birth. But we're not. We have different tendencies, different DNA, different cultural norms, different childhoods, different everything. There is not one right way to respond to adversity."
This is the point at which I disagreed adamantly, telling her that how I respond to everything is wrong, puny, incorrect, bad. That there is surely a more ideal way to respond to trauma than to cry or plead with God or remain paralyzed in the same fear.
And this is the point where (I'm sure) she rolled her eyes, took a deep breath, and said, "You don't want to believe me do you? You so badly want to know that you're okay, that you're acceptable, that you won't even allow me to tell you the truth about the human experience? That there isn't one right way. That maybe you're doing just fine. And you're experience doesn't need anyone's judgement."
* * * * *
I know this girl. She's so great. She's kind and talented and good with people. She's human and she struggles, but she's also tough and she thrives. Sometimes she looks outside herself for validation that what she's doing is okay. But she knows she doesn't want to do this and she's working on it, but not berating herself until she's perfect. She has an emotional vocabulary that will knock your socks off. She's wise. She's good at expressing how she feels. She's good at reading others. Her life has had ups and downs like everyone else's. Some she surely looks back on with a twinge of regret. But at the end of the day, she knows that--big or small--those trials have made her who she is today.
She is resilient.