Halfway through the summer we started to talk about what would happen when camp ended, when we went home from “The Program”. I kept holding on to the promise that I had to get through one summer. I held onto it tightly. Everything that happened, I would think to myself, just one summer. I would count down the time as I knew it passed. Every week I had phone calls and I sent letters. I would talk to them about how things would be when I got to go home.
While I was at camp, a lot of things changed in my family. My parents built a house and moved out of our old house into a place I’d never been before in a new town about half an hour away. In June, my mom had my youngest sibling, my baby brother. They told me that she was in the hospital, that she had complications and had to have surgery. This was so long ago that there were no cell phones, so that was it. I found out later than she nearly bled to death.
The bugs were terrible. Tiny black flies snuck underneath our head nets as we worked and bit behind our ears, leaving them bloody, scabbed and swollen. The more you itched and picked at them, the worse they got. Some girls had to wear mittens to keep them from scratching their own skin off. The nights were cold. The water was cold. When you put your foot into the late most days you could see the leeches gliding around your feet. We would check each others feet when we got out. Sometimes we would find leeches in “less desirable” places than in between our toes.
Just “Getting Through” the Hard Times
I kept working hard, going through the motions, trying to make it through one summer. “Then I can leave this place.” I went through the motions at work time. I tried to keep myself under control and submit to the discipline and wait it out. All I had to do was wait it out. I am really good at waiting it out. I can hunker down and count the days and grit my teeth through anything that comes my way as long as the end is in sight. Unfortunately, hunkering down and waiting it out is one of the reasons I miss out on many things that are important in the present.
We went to the chapel often, every Sunday morning for church, and during a retreat all morning for a week. We would sing praise and worship songs. We would sit and listen to testimonies of staff who were former students. They changed their lives and came back to the program to work. The chapel was a special place. I felt God there. I felt like I could see him there in the midst of it all. The light shone through the colored panes and the dust that we kicked in from the path would fill the air and sparkle in the suns rays. It hung in the air in an eerie way that always put me into silent awe and reflection.
It reminded me of when I was a little girl. My dad would take me to The Gorge. I remember running down the path, climbing on the rocks and hearing stories about Mary Campbell and how the Indians kidnapped her and they lived under a ledge that they name Mary Cambell’s Cave. He told me a story about little magical faeries the are so small they look like dust to us and they hide under mushrooms. I told him there were no such thing and I got so angry that I ran down the path and cried.
Let the Present Ease The Pain Of the Past
Often it can be less painful to let your mind drift back to the past to happier times or forward onto thoughts of better possibilities in the future, to avoid dealing with an unpleasant present situation. I am guilty of this. I avoid dealing with the present issues in my life. I often fail to use these opportunities to better myself. The ironic thing is, if I did use the present to the fullest, it would likely contribute to improving the present situation significantly.
When I think about being in the present, to me it means not determining my actions now based on what already happened or what I think will happen. Definitely not an area of my strength, but something I have recognized as an area of needed growth for me. We all have to be sensitive and aware of people who have hurt us, and not put ourselves in a position where they would be able to do it again. My point is, some hurts are caused unintentionally due to personal failures. I myself have hurt people unintentionally with my own character flaws.
Living in the present means choosing to put the people in my life at the present first, even if they have hurt me before and may hurt me again. I cannot control them and what they do. I cannot make them be the person I need them to be, not matter how hard I try, and have tried. I make more distress and more turmoil and disappointment for myself every time. When I allow myself to focus on the present and let go of the past, healing happens.
Beautiful things happen that I never expected. This might be the time to forgive someone and live in the present.
There is a time for everything,Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NIV
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.