Starting when I was 15, I spent my summers as a counselor at All Saints Episcopal Camp in Leitchfield, Kentucky. That very first summer, I was a “counselor-in-training” and only because I was a certified lifeguard, I got to stay for all 6 weeks for camp and got paid a whopping $100 per week. Hourly, it was a fraction of minimum wage. But I loved it.
And funnily enough, with no experience and pithy pay, that first year was my best year as a counselor. I was too shy to be a part of any of the drama that took place within the staff and I trucked through any signs of fatigue. I thought nothing of spending my break hosing down a bedwetter’s mattress and it never occurred to me that I didn’t have to sing every single song with gusto.
In the years that followed as a camp counselor, I might’ve become more of a leader, but I lost some of the ruthless energy towards my job. Now, I think I was still a pretty decent counselor, but I learned how to sneak in naps and would sometimes care more about my friends on staff than the lonely camper if I could get away with it. I learned how to cut corners. The least important corners, I assure you, but I cut them nonetheless.
I’ve just started reading Madeline L’Engle’s “Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art”. Only 17 pages in and I’d highly recommend this to anyone out there with room left of their summer reading list. In it, L’Engle says about Mary, Mother of Jesus:
As for Mary, she was little more than a child when the angel came to her; she had not lost her child’s creative acceptance of the realities moving on the other side of the everyday world. We lose our abilities to see angels as we grow older and that is a tragic loss.
The angels came to Mary when she was about the same age as I was that first summer at All Saints. Perhaps younger. And it probably required someone that young to answer “okay” to this impossible task. Somehow as we get older, we’re more apt to answer God’s call with an “I can’t.” or “I don’t wanna.” or “What’s in it for me?” It seems like maturing and becoming more responsible makes us less responsive.
How do we go back to the childlike acceptance that Mary had? It’s like trying to unlearn that your alarm clock has a snooze button. Listening is one thing. Answering ‘yes’ is another.