Aug 24, 2012

Pink Markers, Prayer, and Lights

"Then you will be the pure and innocent children of God. You live among people who are crooked and evil, but you must not do anything that they can say is wrong. Try to shine as lights among the people of this world, as you hold firmly to the message that gives life..." Philippians 2:15,16a, CEV.

It's been nearly two weeks since my fourth summer of camp came to its close. It was a good summer, a different summer, as they always tend to be. After having spent some time resting and recovering from exhaustion, I must say that I do miss it and am glad for having gotten to counsel for a third season.

I was just sorting through my cabin's art supplies, seeing how many markers, colored pencils, and clean pieces of paper managed to survive the five groups of girls that used them. As I was flipping through one of the notebooks--pausing to scan a scribbled note of greeting here, a sketch of a happy looking horse there--I stopped on one unexpected page. Written in pink marker with a very precise hand were the words "naimbag toy puso." Below this phrase had been written its translation: "it is well with my soul."

At the summer's start, I'd made a name tag picture and placed it above my bunk. I instructed all my kids to make their own as well, and so we all had these works of art displayed, conveying not only our names but also our interests, hobbies, passions, and personalities. Mine had a tree, a waterfall, a cross, a space-filling sheep, and other various images, as well as several phrases, one of which being "naimbag toy puso." So naturally throughout the summer I was questioned on the meaning of the phrase. Evidently one of my girls jotted this down at one of these junctures.

I mention this discovery because it reminded me of another girl. Let's call her Anne. Anne was in my cabin last summer. A little 8-year-old with spunk who tried (half-heartedly and unsuccessfully) to get away with a lot, which typically resulted in a lot of good-natured laughter from all involved. We got along great. Last summer, at the conclusion of a prayer during Sabbath's church service, Anne stared up at me and asked me why I prayed with my hands open. I explained the symbolism with which I view it and the reminder it gives me to come before God with an open heart to give and receive. "Everyone has their own personal way for connecting with God," I told her. "Some people fold their hands, some people kneel, some people stand and look up. They're just different positions for getting your heart and mind ready to talk with God." She furrowed her brow, nodded, and thought hard about this.

Anne came back this summer and requested to join me again in cabin Shasta, much to my delight. The first night, I went to each bunk to talk and pray with each girl. When I prayed with Anne, I noticed that she mirrored my open hands. She saw that I'd noticed, so I smiled at her and asked if she remembered why I prayed that way. She nodded and quoted back to me what I'd said a year ago. "I like to pray this way, too," Anne added, her eyes wide and her face serious.

As I lay in bed that night, an anxious thought filtered through my mind. A reminder of something I'd first noted my senior year in high school and which hit me full force in Pagudpud and at Sunset Lake: people are watching and listening. So much can be taught in simply how a life is lived. Being aware of who we are and what we stand for is not significant for our own sakes alone, but also for the sakes of those whom we encounter. I remember many people who were of great influence on me, not for any great speech that they worked on or any fantastic feat accomplished, but simply for living as they lived. And now I'm honored to be in the other position as well.

It's definitely a responsibility; that couldn't have been clearer that night in cabin Shasta. Much damage can be done, much confusion wrought. But so much guidance and love can be shared, too. It's a responsibility that I find a privilege to possess. So I will remember my audience and choose my words with precision. But more than this, I will care for my heart, for it is out of the heart that all else flows. And in doing this, I will care for myself and others.

It's an honor to be counted as a light, and I desire to do the role justice.

Let's just tack on a little Shasta chaos