Friday, August 24, 2012


This week, Family III and Blind Camp are happening simultaneously.

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.