I think December felt a little attention deprived here in West Tennessee. And, if you really want attention; if you long for it and feel desperate for it; if you want the attention of those around you who just seem to be focusing on anything but you, on all these unimportant things that have nothing to do with you; if you want the attention, anyone can find a way to get attention, at least for a time. Most children know that to get attention, it is a simple as being loud. The louder you make your outburst, the more immediate the attention and the more concentrated it is on you. At camp, we see many, many people (not just children) who are thirsting for this attention so much that they will do things you just don’t understand, all in the name of undivided attention. I have seen people bang their heads on tables, sit in the middle of the road, dress up as the opposite sex, and say some pretty outrageous things, almost exclusively to get attention. But, this time of the year, there just aren’t too many people around to grab our attention. And, that has seemed to be the perfect time for December to step in and grab it. December did not, however, plant herself in the middle of the highway and stop traffic to the Conference Center. She didn’t bang her head on the picnic tables near the waterfront until someone pulled her off. She didn’t even show up dressed in tuxedo with a top hat to demand our attention. She brought the cold on us in just the time it took for some afternoon winds to blow through.
It has been cold at Lakeshore this week, as I’m sure most of you have also been experiencing. Though we can’t say it is winter yet and be technically correct, we can say that, “it is December,” and put heavy emphasis on the “is,” just so people (and the month of December) realize how sure we are that it is cold. Earlier this week the pipes busted at the Tent and Trailer bath house, and this happened even before the coldest part of the week hit. It seems like with every winter, water pipes are frequently in our consciousness. I remember at about 14 or 15 the water pipe that connected to my bathroom froze. To that moment, I had never even thought about water being in water pipes, the possibility of freezing, and what might happen after that. Now, anytime we get below 30 degrees, there is worry. At camp, we have to turn on the heat or place space heaters in the bathrooms when it gets this cold. I have never had a pipe burst at one of my houses since I’ve been out on my own, but it seems an inevitability. And, this is because of the waiting. You know, you realize that the cold is here, but you’ve just had too much going on that day, and all you really want to do on this night is lay on the couch and watch something on tv. You know that there isn’t even anything good on tonight, but winterizing water pipes is the last thing you want to do tonight. Tomorrow, you’ll be able to go out and get it all fixed up. If we can just hold out until tomorrow. So, you wait. And, one day you wait just a little too long and you find yourself without water or water flowing out of your walls. But, sometimes we just wait. Something about the winter makes us want to slow down, and this sometimes causes us not to pay very good attention to what needs it.
As I walked home last night, I couldn’t help but stare up. The moon has been absent from the sky for the past few nights, and, while making it difficult to stay on the path, you can see stars you may have never seen before. I was passing the Hope Lodge, doing my best to keep my hands warm, when a huge shooting star burned across the night. It lit up the sky. I realize that it is a huge ball of burning rock, but this one did genuinely looked like a ball of burning rock. And then, as quick as it had appeared, it was gone–completely burned up in the atmosphere. I just stopped there for a moment–it felt like I should do something–like there should be something more. But, that was all. The shooting star was there. It was gone. It had managed to get my attention and keep it.
With December being our slowest month of the year, the office is also slow. Martha takes her much deserved vacation time during this month (though she still sometimes gets stuck when she just comes to check in). Gary and Vickie are at a Camp Leader’s summit in Oklahoma. So, there have been many days this week where Troy’s office lights are the only ones on. The maintenance staff is bundled up and drive the golf carts much slower or not at all. This is a time to winterize, to deep clean, to do those projects we’ve had to put off for months because there was something more pressing. But, no matter what we chose to do, we will at some point be reminded of the time of year, one way or another. There are plenty of things to still think about, but those things that need our attention know how to get it if we will just listen.
The phone has even slowed down. For the most part, the calls in the office this week have been automated calls. I will pick up and there will be a recorded voice saying, “this is an important call…” I always answer by saying, “well, if it’s so important, put a real person on the phone,” and hang up. Today, though, I got an odd one. I picked up, and there was an elevator music version of “Daydream Believer,” by the Monkees playing. I must admit that I enjoyed it. I listened for a time, wondering what on earth was going to happen next. Was someone calling me, just to play “Daydream Believer?” Is this some kind of clever new gimmick that telemarketers are developing to get you to stay on the line. Just play the Monkees! They’ll never hang up on the Monkees! I don’t know. I listened and enjoyed for a minute, but my attention was required somewhere else. So, I hung up the phone and went back to my desk.
May we all not let our attention be taken up too long by things that aren’t that important. Get outside and look at all the life around you (no matter how cold it gets). Think about the people you love most and make sure they know that. Remember the coming of the baby Jesus. Experience all the wonder that the shepherds felt as they followed the angels to a stable not knowing even how great what they were experiencing truly was. It’s out there now. It’s begging for your attention.
Though, we don’t have many groups during December, we do have a reunion group of Wilderness campers coming to brave the cold this weekend. We also have a few individuals coming out to get away. Pray that their experiences are good ones. Also, give thanks with us that two very good friends of Lakeshore, Chris Alexander and Rebecca Russell, are getting married this Saturday. Happy Christmas to you all.