Spring sent us advance notice this week that it was on the way. Much of this winter, already, has seemed like Spring, but more has been happening lately to signal the change coming our way. The Red Maples put out their tiny red blooms. If you look at them from the ground, you see a small red tint to the canopy like a dot matrix. The yellow buttercups have come up, even through the snow of two weeks ago and have put that bright yellow paint over much of the ground. The plants are waking up.
It was time for the snakes to get their monthly rat, and our two corn snakes are not friendly to each other during this time, so they have to be separated. One snake was moved to another cage, a temporary top was attached, and a filled bag was put on top to be sure the snake wouldn’t escape. After the feeding was over, Gary returned the snake to his cage with his corn snake roommate, both with full stomachs and completely willing to live together peacefully. They went back to their typical spots, curled up, under the cage liner to keep warm.
Later that day, Vickie was the first one back in the office, and she went to check on the snakes. When she found the temporary cage, the bag and top had been removed and there was no snake. She looked quickly at the main cage, but did not see a second snake. “Oh, no.” This looked like a snake escape. What’s more, this corn snake somehow seemed to have managed to move this heavy bag that was on top of the lid to the cage. So, not only did Vickie think she was dealing with an escaped snake, this is some kind of bulked up super snake that can lift 20 times its body weight. Vickie nervously looked over her shoulders, on the ground, and under the tables where the cages rest. Nowhere. You know that moment when you realize something terrible may have happened and your mind then jumps to the most terrible possible scenarios. What if this super snake escaped into the heating ducts, figured out a way to reproduce on its own and was creating an advanced race of suped-up corn snakes who would one day ascend from the floors and take the Administration Building for their own. It would be like the low-budget sequel to Snakes on a Plane.Before Vickie called Samuel L. Jackson, Gary returned to the office and informed her that he had opened the cage and the missing corn snake was actually just curled up where it was hard to see him.
Our Summer Staff Application postmark deadline was last Friday, so we continued to received some mail the first few days of thi week. I guess, I should say we continued to received piles of mail, pouring in like the flood waters of the Tennessee River last year when we got 12 inches of rain in less than 24 hours. Up until about a week ago, I would receive Summer Staff Applications here and there. On a good day I might get one or two references and an application for staff. As the date neared, though, we got more and more, until we reached the 11th hour. Then there were many. Martha and I were laughing about how frantic this inevitably becomes. Each year, you can guarantee frantic emails and phone calls with tragic stories and strings of events so unbelievable that they are actually believable.
Troy, I’m really sorry. I haven’t been able to print my Staff Application this whole week, because a crop duster hit the Wi-Fi satellite at my school and we’ve been without internet. I tried calling my mom to get her to print it out, but the cord of our printer got chewed up by our family dog, who consequently choked on it, setting of a family pet emergency. While my parents were in the dog ER, I called my best friend and asked her to read the application off to me. I planned to hand copy it, but mid-way through, my hand began to cramp up. I checked with my doctor, and he says I have a rare condition that causes my hands to seize up after writing even a short paragraph. He says that if I write more than 2 sentences, my pinky finger could release dangerous toxins into my body that could attack my spinal cord and paralyze me from the neck down. Now, I want to be on staff so bad that I don’t mind risking it, so you just let me know if I need to go ahead and hand copy the Application and fill it out as my best friend dictates it over the phone. Oh, and I have a big exam this week too.
Our response to this is normally, “Why didn’t you just fill it out a little bit earlier.” But, Martha and I also thought about how often we had been caught in similar situations. How many times had we filed taxes moments before the deadline? There are these times we put off important things, because we see them as important, and often that means a lot of time and work–even if it isn’t really that much time and work. We don’t want to invest ourselves yet. Wouldn’t it just be nicer today to relax and take a few easier projects? Haven’t I earned it? The answer is usually, “no,” but we often convince ourselves the opposite.
Ash Wednesday happened this week, ushering in the Lenten Season. Just day after that, Lakeshore welcomed the 30 Hour Famine, where a group of 180 youth and adults fasted for 30 straight hours. It still amazes me that this youth retreat fills up every year. There is obviously something inside us that feels called to denial of over indulging in all the things we have around us. As the end of our fast approached, and I stood in the Sun Room, decorated by candle-light, our iconic drift-wood cross, and the cup and bread, I felt weak and humble. So many emotions swirled around, no doubt partly brought on by the lack of food in my body. But, I also felt such a connection to the people in that room, such a connection to God, and so thankful for the blessings in my life. I even felt more thankful long before the fast broke. I hope I can hold on to that spirit throughout Lent. I’m trying to avoid over-indulging as I often do.
Hopefully, as the Spring continues to come to us, this denial will make me see it much clearer. As the air grows warmer and more inviting, as the wind brings those nice breezes through the windows of the office, as the frogs and crickets wake to sing, I hope that this time of fast and prayer will make their colors brighter and their sounds crisper. I hope I will immediately be brought to a spirit of thanks to the God who made this all. At the close of the worships during the 30 Hour Famine, I watched youth and adults sharing some of their most spiritual experiences and later saw them kneel on the floor to pray for hurting people all over the world. As I shared these experiences and realized the blessings in my life, it made me want to serve more–to stretch myself to something new and better.
As the trees and flowers begin to wake up, to grow spread themselves, I hope something will be awakened in us. That we will celebrate all that is good and not hold on to it. I hope I will work to pass it along, and not put it off any longer.
Pray that our guests for the 30 Hour Famine take their experience home and spread it to their worlds. Pray for all who are hungry today, who are threatened by violence, and who do not know where they will sleep tonight.