Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Staff training: an emotional reflection.

I am home, and (judging by the hour) possibly not resting as I should.

I both love and do-not-love the way that in my eyes, all of my coworkers are the same age--as each other, as myself. It can be an excellent way to view things, but it can also be unhelpful.

I love the way that this place is a perfect venue to get to know people on a level that is simply unavailable in any other situation I have ever experienced. There's something about the mix of the work and the training and the prayer time and the decompression that brings out true hearts.

I love the joy and laughter of our little staff bonding traditions--I speak here of "The Challenge." Even if I did nearly run into Melissa in the dark. Even if I did do an accidental full body slide on the wet grass in the dark. Victoria and I remarked to each other that "we have such a good group this year." We felt like proud parents.
    And when the guys returned from their own version, and the newbies walked in with huge grins, we clapped and cheered. This is a wonderful place.

I love the peace and truth and discovery that come, and I love the dancing and the singing and the silliness. I love that in the middle of our campfire the other night, we took a break from teaching the new kids camp songs and broke into Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds." I love the fighting and fatigue and stress, and the struggle and epiphany and euphoria. I love the sudden surprise of hot cofflet in the morning, and I love the spontaneous games that spring from nowhere, from the minds of the crazy guys that come to work. I love it all.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Catching up

Last night, it was too cold for fireflies. Before that, though, on the fifth, I wrote that
"as always, the sight of a clear night sky full of stars is positively bewitching. But here, in the summer, the beauty is heightened still further--the trees blink with fireflies, and looking up into the night, numerous extra stars seem to wink in and out of existence.
I love this. On my way to bed I stand outside Cabin 6, or sit in my bunk, and watch the trees glitter in the night, hear the frogs sing, listen to the creek run on.
In the day I cannot keep from checking the blackberry bushes each time I pass by, just in case--as though they might have grown from green and hard to a full, ripe black overnight."

I have also been noticing with some frequency how much I love the way guitar music played outdoors seems to saturate the air.

[begin religious moment]
Two things:
I had a bit of a moment during and after our Camp version of church the other day. Religion is largely an emotional thing, and emotions aren't something I'm good at--so I tend to do a lot of drifting. This bothers me. Anyway, I had this realization, based on the "Christ-as-the-potter, people-as-the-clay" metaphor:
Our responsibility is not to mold our own hearts--can clay mold itself, or rid itself of impurities? We are only clay; Christ is the potter. We only need to submit, as clay only needs to submit. We only need to lay our burdens down in the pile at the foot of the cross.

Anna is pretty great, and gave a bit of a devotional the other day. She ended with this: "The end of your rope is not the end of the world--not with a God whose grace is sufficient for you. Not with a God whose strength is made perfect in your weakness."

And that made me think of the way our strengths complement our weaknesses--that is, the way my strengths are there to fill in the gaps where you are weak, and your strengths may perfectly fit with my weaknesses. It reminded me of the Bright Eyes song, "Bowl of Oranges": 

And we'll keep working on the problem 
we know we'll never solve: 
of love's uneven remainders--our lives are fractions of a whole. 
And if the world could remain within a frame, like a painting on a wall, 
I think we'd see the beauty then. 
We'd stand staring in awe 
at our still lives posed 
like a bowl of oranges. 
Like a story told 
of the fault lines in the soul.

[end religious moment.]

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Some news

-For the first time in at least six months, I have a working odometer and speedometer in my car.

-I have turned in my invoices for tutoring, and, aside from a few minor changes my boss would like me to make, I am FINISHED. I will not have to turn in an invoice for at least three months. Thank you Jesus.

Camp tomorrow! Not sure I'm ready. Not that it matters...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Winter and spring, then summer

Here is the difference: I love winter like I love sleep. I love the quiet. I love the dreamy, ethereal qualities of the season, of the air. I focus on the fixtures: the unmoving trees, the pendulous moon, the here-and-gone frost that mirrors the glittering stars in the night. And when summer comes, I am suddenly lost. Where is my moon? Where are my bare, silent trees? Where is my quiet beauty? The leaves grow suddenly so thick that I can barely see the sky. But then the sun sinks toward the horizon, and its yellow rays mix into those green leaves, and my breath is stolen away. I am slowly, slowly coming to remember that I can't look in the summer for what I loved in the winter. In the summer the beauty and magic are in the movement, in the shockingly quick growth of the plants, in the changing landscape, rather than the spinning sky. It's in bioluminescent bugs, and in all of the animals that seem to somehow have appeared out of the ether. Where have they been? This evening I stood barefoot in the stream again, again drinking in the feeling of its coolness around my calves while Miley refreshed herself by swimming in small circles and huffing, and I was struck by the fragility of the water skaters. I was glad to see them, firstly, but (never having done a whit of research on them) I always wonder where they've come from. How could such spindly, tiny little bugs--water bugs, even--have survived such an icy winter? But it doesn't matter. They're here now.

Just as Miley and I crested the hill, the church bells up the street chimed eight, and the late afternoon sun reached over the Western trees, and gilded those standing to the East. A handful of bluejays circled the sky over the neighborhood, calling back and forth. Winter is about sleep, but I am relearning how to be awake.

I am still sneakily trying to teach Layla that all life is precious. This week we've (finally) been doing swim lessons rather than math lessons, and the design of their backyard pool is such that hapless spiders crawl up to the edge, lose their grip, and fall in. They are light enough to be able to stand on the surface tension in the water, and can often cling to floating leaves or make their way back onto the walls of the pool, but they can't make it up over the lip and back onto dry ground. We've been rescuing them when we see them, and noting those that are jumping spiders. They still make her nervous, but at least she no longer demands their deaths on sight. I'm working to warm her up to bees, but I am making less progress.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Once again.

Why do I never, ever feel like writing anymore? I suppose, if I think back, I have to admit that this happens every summer. Somehow it surprises me every time.

Well I'm tired. What else is new? I know this is shocking, but the reason for my fatigue is twofold:

1. I stayed up late reading.

2. I couldn't sleep. WHO AM I?

I took Miley for a walk the other afternoon (I know! In the daytime and everything!) and I began to warm up to the summer a bit. No pun intended. I've been missing the winter landscape. But I reveled in the hot dirt smell that I so love, that doesn't show up until the temperature hits a relatively dry ninety degrees or so. And the moment Miley and I burst out the side door of the house and hit the asphalt, a chorus of cicadas swelled into song on the other side of the road, and my heart nearly burst. I have never understood why so many people dislike cicadas. They're such an essential part of summer to me. They sound right. And have you ever seen one just emerging from its shell? They're gorgeous. They look like living, winged emeralds and sapphires.

We walked down to the creek, where Miley always swims whenever it's even remotely warm, and I stepped into the water with her and savored the feeling of it swirling around my calves. I may have splashed it up onto my arms and face; I can't remember. I sometimes do this. Further up the road we passed the flowering blackberry brambles and the honeysuckle vines, and as we reached our driveway, I saw that the tiger lilies had bloomed. It was a good walk.