We draw ever closer each week to that time our staff prefers not to mention. I will leave it out, for their sake, but we get nearer and nearer each week. It is the time that our bodies tell us should come soon, but that our hearts do not want to face. It is a time that has snuck up on us. It is a time, that after it has passed, we will wonder how it came so quickly. Years down the road, we may even look back and wished we had valued it more. Some of these things are not for us to know until we are older and wiser. Regardless, though, this week came and seemed, to me, to fly right by.
During Monday morning Bible study, some of our staff were surprised by a couple of large birds outside the windows of the Sunroom. Tiffany says that her bible study group thought, at first, that they were seeing a couple of very large squirrels, and then they jumped and did not fall. One of the birds, who they suspect to be some sort of hawk, slammed into the window with a loud thud that scared everyone. The birds were flying together in some way, maybe they were fighting, maybe they were mating–the bible study group isn’t really sure, with there being no bird experts in the group. You never know what is going to swoop into your life, startle you to attention, then, just as quickly, fly away out of sight.
This week, we approached the New Moon, which can really affect your night walks. When I was a younger staff member, I remember walking through the woods with no flashlight and having no difficulty. I navigated the trail with ease, impressing the camp who was following behind me. These experiences can be great confidence builders, and we need confidence sometimes. Occasionally, though, we also need to be knocked down a few pegs. So, a few weeks later, when I attempted to do the trail without a flashlight, I could not understand why I could not find my way so easily. I ended up lost with no idea where to turn. We finally had to give in and turn on a light to get back to the trail. The issue, of course, was moonlight. The first night, I had a full moon, the second night, I had a new moon. These days, I feel almost like I’m cheating when I walk in the woods with a full moon. The sun might as well be out. You cast a shadow on nights like these. The new moon is the true test of how well you walk in the woods.
The new moon, of course, is the perfect time for star gazing. With no moon to drown out the rest of the light, you see so many stars on a clear night. Honestly, you see every light. You’ll notice things giving off light that seem so tiny and insignificant. I guess there is some metaphorical value to this: during the darkest times, we are most tuned in to the lights around us. When, other than on the darkest nights, can you have your path lit by fireflies? On these nights, you would notice a cell phone from 1000 yards away. On nights like these, we open our eyes wide, hoping for something to guide us, and we are grateful for anything–anything that gives us some guidance to the wilderness surrounding us.
I felt this the night I rode my bike to the first pavilion of the state park to wait for Jr/Sr High Music and Drama. They had walked to Pilot Knob, and would meet me for owl calls and watermelon. I got there before they made it, and I did not want to turn the lights on and scare the owls away. So I sat under the pavilion in the pitch black night. At first, I could see nothing, but as time went on, my eyes adjusted, and I could pick out the less noticeable lights around me. Streetlights far away, stars, fireflies–I began to make out the silhouettes of the trees and their leaves. When the first car, leading the group, pulled down that tall hill, it was as if the sun had just come over the horizon. The relative silence of frogs and crickets slowly morphed into the sounds of one or two voices in the distance, which changed to a group of about 20, laughing, singing, and talking as they made their way to this last stop on their journey. We had one owl answer.
Earlier that evening, after supper, I walked out onto the walkway that leads to the Gazebo and looked out over the river. The wind was picking up, and I could see white-caps on the river. In the distance, I could see rain to the north, and it seemed to be getting closer. The wind got stronger, and I could hear thunder in the distance. I knew that the storm would be on us very soon, but it was nice to spend a few moments waiting on it, feeling the wind ahead of it. I felt a few drops on my face and made my way to the front porch and a rocking chair, so I could watch the show from a dry spot. The storm rolled in a dropped a lot of water on us. Some of the staff tried out their rain jackets by standing under the spot where the rain gutter spews out water straight to the ground. For the most part, the jackets kept them dry (though the rest of their bodies got soaked). I watched from my rocking chair, this storm that blew in, dropped an hour’s worth of precipitation on us, then passed on, leaving a gray sky and cooler temperatures.
These times come to us, and sometimes we see them approaching, and sometimes they are on us with little warning. Sometimes we know them, and sometimes we are not seasoned enough to recognize them. They come in many forms and on many levels. Some of these, we will look back on for years to come, and they will continue to change us throughout our lives. They will have something to tell, and we will listen to them like a child at the foot of a great storyteller. But, the story will be our own. And, we will tell it to ourselves again and again.
We have so many to pray for. Join us, as we hold so many in our hearts and minds.