It has been just over a week since our summer program at ECC ended. I have thought, several times, about what I might write in a blog post to sum up the summer but I can’t seem to find the words for what happened. As it stands I’m still so tired that complete sentences are hard to come by, but even harder than sentences I’m having trouble figuring out how I feel. I’m tired: yes. Grateful: absolutely. Devasted that the summer’s over: affirmative. Happy to have free time again: check. Feeling like I got hit by a truck: pretty much.
I feel all of those things. But there’s something else in there besides all the normal post-camp, post-mountaintop-experience feelings. And while it’s hard to put my finger on exactly, I think I might feel humbled. Yes – I think that’s it, now that I give myself a minute to think about it. I feel incredibly, profoundly, and permanently humbled to have been a part of the experience at ECC this summer. I don’t know how I got so lucky – so blessed. I really don’t. But I won’t spend any time harping on that, I’ll just be grateful that it happened.
For some reason when I left parish ministry, my soul was feeling a little dried up. I’m not entirely sure why that is, because I loved, loved, loved my parish in North Carolina and all the work I did there. It was a truly wonderful time in my life, and I still miss it every day. But by the time Jonathan and I packed up our lives and headed west to see the National Parks and our friends what I was really looking for was a revived soul. I thought I found it in the red hills of Zion National Park, at my friend Christy’s wedding, and in the valley at Yosemite. And to a certain degree, those experiences did refresh me. I came alive some while I was on that trip, and I relished in that.
That said, while we were on that trip I still didn’t know what lay ahead. I didn’t know what God had in store: where we’d work, where we’d live. We were just doing the next thing that God put in our path, and it was exhilarating and a little bit scary. When being the director at ECC fell into my path I knew – without question – that it was my next thing. But despite that glorious clarity, I had no idea if I would actually like the job. Sure, I liked camp when I was last there in 2004 – but that was a long time ago. I didn’t know most of the current staff. I was unfamiliar with the programming. I couldn’t really remember if I liked being with campers. I said YES to God because I knew it was the right thing, but I was petrified – petrified – about what was coming down the pike.
And I was right to be petrified. Because what I didn’t know then was how much my heart was just going to completely explode with the love I felt almost instantly for the staff, counselors, and campers at ECC. I didn’t know such an incredible group of people could exist in one place, and that they’d be willing to let me join them for their experience. I didn’t know I could experience such sheer joy in so many moments of so many days. And sure – there was exhaustion (unlike anything I’ve ever experienced) and there were lows (community living always brings around a few) – but by and large it was 53 days of abounding love, dancing, laughter, and Spirit. And feeling that kind of love is totally petrifying. I think anyone who’s ever been a parent can tell you that much. Because, as I’ve heard it described once – it’s like giving your heart permission to go walking around outside your body. And that’s pretty much what I felt like this summer.
You’re going to hear plenty more from me about the summer, and you’ll see more video clips. But for now, I want to offer a huge thank you to everyone who shared the summer with me at the Episcopal Conference Center: to the campers who give us reason to be there, to the counselors and staff who showed me the light of God every single day, and to the visiting staff who swooped in and made the program happen like it was the easiest thing in the world. Finally, I have to say thank you to Joyce and Lance. I could not ask to work with two more incredible people. They were so patient with me and so kind. They offered me hugs on the long days and they laughed and danced with me on the good days. I’m honored to work with them, and I’m incredibly grateful that in the post-camp slump time I get to drive back up to Pascoag and sit around the round table with them talking, planning, and laughing.
It was a wonderful summer friends. God is so good!