This week at Lakeshore 3/13-19

Water is rising at Lakeshore, and the lake referred to in our name is stretching out slowly, like you would at the end of the day on your couch. We haven’t seen rain in days, but the river continues to creep inland, covering patches of woods that you can normally walk on and back without a cluster of mud stuck to the treads of your shoes. There are inevitably these times in spring when the river rises. Our river, the Tennessee, empties into the Ohio. So, if the Ohio is flooding, TVA will keep our dams closed so as not to make the situation in Ohio River country even damper. The result, for us, is a soggy bottomed wading pool where the beach and soccer field normally stand. It’s not unusual to find a Canada Goose paddling in the same path towards the goal that a soccer ball will travel in July off the foot of a camper during an evening soccer match. You see only the tops of platforms in the water and realize they are the tables that you have to hoist yourself onto in dryer months. And, it seems, there is some place that just dumps driftwood and wood chips into the river every spring when it floods. As the water recedes, Lakeshore becomes a depository for anything from a tree that has been shed in the past three weeks to styrofoam, plastic oil bottles, fishing bobs, and even the occasional flip flop (Lord only knows where the match is).

The Ohio was supposed to crest on Thursday, but it could be a long time before the waters go down. This rise of the tide is actually more typical of late April, rather than mid-March, so we worry a bit if this is just a taste of what is to come. Should we get to work on a giant boat and load up Lily, Miles, Jock, Monty the snake, some squirrels, and a dove? I’ve learned here that trying to predict things is an invitation to disappointment.

Ms. Gwen has been working on cushions to go on our kneeler in the prayer chapel for some time. She spent a lot of time looking for materials, because, as she says, “it’s hard to find material anywhere. Nobody carries it anymore.” And, she’s right. Do you remember that section of Wal-Mart carved out for materials and patterns? They disappeared, it seemed, overnight, and now if you want to make a pillow for someone shaped like a smiley face, you’re going to go on quite the hunt to find what you need. She finally found the materials and gave them and measurements to the woman she knows who sews these things. And, she brought the cushions back, opening the our conversation with, “I think we have a problem.” It is funny how when you hear this, your mind usually envisions a problem far worse than the one about to be related to you. What could it be? Does the material cause a rash? Does it smell terrible? Did the woman sew cuss words into the cushion? It turns out, the cushion was about twice as wide as it needed to be, so it just hung off the kneeler and into the floor.

I assured Ms. Gwen that we could use it. We need cushions for the floor of the prayer chapel, so we can have more kneeling space around the room. But, she came back the next day and got the cushions. She said, “I just couldn’t sleep last night thinking about those cushions. I called the woman and asked if she could fix them, and she said it wouldn’t be a problem. I didn’t want to put her out, but I want it to look good, too.” So earlier this week, Ms. Gwen showed back up with a kneeling pad that fit the kneeler perfectly. “Next time,” she said, “I’m just going to donate money.”

Lakeshore went on the road Friday to do team building off site. A good friend of the camp, Kristen, and I went to a boys’ home to do team building. When we arrived, the staff first apologized that we might hear some “language,” and that they had asked them to keep it toned down. We assured them that we had heard it all before, and it was really okay. We led a group of twelve guys through some team building activities for the rest of the morning. Even after splitting them into two groups of six, Kristen taking one and me taking the other, we both had our hands full. The boys had the attention span of a hummingbird. It is tricky leading team building with a group like this. It’s important to keep them on task and challenge them. But, it’s also important for the events to be something they have some interest in. So, you have to make something interesting to a group that comes in already skeptical. We had moments where that was going well. We both managed to engage the boys in conversations where they talked to us like they trusted us. But, then, mid-way through the morning a fight broke out. I’m sure it had less to do with the two involved and more with everything that has stacked up on them. Regardless, if was tough to hold anyone’s attention by the end. We continued to talk, finding out more about their lives. Kristen sat down and talked to a group, while I played basketball with a few. They seemed a bit disappointed when we told them we couldn’t stay for lunch. It made me want to stay longer.

Women’s Emmaus is with us this weekend, and one of the first things they discovered upon arriving in their cabins were wasps, just woken up by the warm temperatures. Of course, we had people allergic to wasps in each cabin. At this point, we are still getting sitings. Last night, I went into a cabin, broom in hand, ready to take them down. I left the cabin, but 3 wasps did not. Earlier today, Corky was called in to spray a spot outside the cabin where they are known to enter. Wasps fell like drops from the roof after a spring drizzle. Tonight, I’ll return for round two of my wasp face-off. Hopefully, I’ll retain use of my typing (and wasp spraying) fingers after we meet up again.

It’s hard to tell what might rise up, even when you’ve done your best to predict everything. These times, we realize that we don’t have it all figured out as well as we think. The river rises, the wasps return, and kids are born everyday who have to live their lives in a way they didn’t ask for. You can get so frustrated, you just throw punches at the thing that happens to get in front of you at the wrong moment. You just wanted to help make something for the camp, and now it’s not what you hoped it would be. You find yourself spraying poison into holes in the walls. You shout. You yell. You wonder why. Even if you want to fix things, you’re not sure how. But, there was a moment at twilight, when I sat still. I watched the sun drift behind and out from clouds as it made its journey below the hills. I listened to the wind and felt how nice this day truly was. For then, there was peace. I may not solve any more problems in my time here, but I hope that others feel this sometime. That they get it too–that moment of stillness and contentment, when nothing for that moment is of consequence. Be still. Know.

Pray with us for Women’s Emmaus and the boys we worked with today.

And, if you are interested in helping us with the Prayer Chapel, we would be very grateful. If you would like to donate $1,500 for a stain glass window to be put in, you could direct a dedication that will go next to it. Contact us for more information.

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