Under My Roof
“Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
This quote from the faithful Roman was the theme for The Pines Catholic Camp Summer Camp 2012. It was beautifully fitting for the amazing things that God worked “under our roofs” through the ministry at The Pines. His graces were all over the place, and so many incredible things happened at the humble camp in Big Sandy, Texas.
I was a cabin counselor for the entire summer, and the experience was unforgettable. Between the other counselors, the selfless service of the SWAT team, the humble leadership of senior staff, or the campers themselves, I was blessed to see Christ in the flesh, hidden in disguise as a small child, as a smiling face handing me yet another plate of food, or as the humble servant-leadership offered to Christ by senior staff.
A few specific memories that will stay with me for years:
Winner’s Circle is the evening devotional each cabin shares just before bed. One night shortly before lights out, my co-counselors and I were leading Winner’s Circle for a group of 5th graders, and I was explaining to them God’s request to St. Frances to “rebuild My church,” and how St. Frances thought at first Christ meant the literal building he was in, as it had fallen into sad disrepair. Once the building was repaired though, he realized that it was the Church that is Christ’s Body that Jesus was asking him to rebuild. One of my little girls, 9 years old, piped up and said, “Oh! So like each one of us is a brick in Jesus’ Church?” I’ve never heard the Mystical Body of Christ described in such a sweet, simple way. How Jesus must love the faith of children!
My week with rising 6th graders is one that I will never, ever forget. God taught me more patience and love in that week than He has in the last several years. One of my campers had a few mental and physiological difficulties, and would try my patience on often an hourly basis. My co-counselor and I struggled to understand how we could love this girl like Christ, but Christ came to the rescue with all the graces we needed, and leaning on each other, we were able to love her, and grow so much. That cabin was probably the most challenging one of the summer, and this girl, by far, the most challenging camper. I would not wish the experience away though, because it was in that week that God showed me how willful and selfish I am, and how patient He is with me, and how lovingly He puts up with my childishness. The trials my co and I underwent that week were what enabled a profound growth to take place in both our hearts. I would not have had that cabin without my little messenger-angel of God’s love.
My first cabin of teenagers was scary! – until they actually got there. Teen week was incredible. I had the same co as with the 6th graders, and it was such a joy to spend time with those women. It was like a cabin of beautiful sisters, and I didn’t want to take any of my off time that week – I just wanted to be with my girls. Women’s Session was an amazing experience for them, and they all left knowing they were so beautiful. My heart was so full!
Week 7 I was the nanny for the Egan family, and the change of pace was perfectly timed. The speaker who was on camp that week was Ben Walther (whom I’ve mentioned in previous posts), and I was SO blessed to be able to spend time with his beautiful wife and precious children while watching the Egan children. Maria Walther must be one of the most amazing women I’ve ever met, and her profound love for her children was so exquisite, pure, Marian, and Catholic…. I was enthralled. (I decided within about a day that I wanna be just like her when I grow up!) Being able to spend that week with her, and the wife and family of the camp director was so affirming, encouraging, and uplifting, by the end of the week, I was completely refreshed, revived, uplifted, and ready to tackle the last two weeks of camp.
When I was not being a nanny, I helped SWAT and the rest of the counselors on program staff (aka, not in a cabin) with their chores. It was this week that I got to really bond with another counselor Anna, or camp name “Leap.” She and I had a blast playing around with each other, mopping circles around each other, and decided that we needed to be co-counselors. We (rather sassily) informed the Head Female (who assigns cabins and co-counselors-ships) of this fact, and both were thrilled when we got to co the last two weeks. Our first cabin together was incredible. Our girls were so amazing, beautiful, and grew so much. Sharing the time with Anna and our girls was a highlight of my summer. Anna and I decided our mission was to outdo each other in random acts of kindness, and this went on the entire two weeks we were together. Different difficulties came up, and we had to lean on each other in unique ways, but God’s graces filled our deficiencies, and we supported each other seamlessly. The strength of that woman amazed me on a daily basis.
The last week of camp, I met a camper who would astound me. For the first few days, there was nothing about her that particularly stood out to make me notice her more than any of my other campers. Monday night, we prayed the rosary as a cabin, and she led a decade, so I assumed she was a Catholic, most likely from a Catholic family & school, so I wasn’t worried about her. It wasn’t until Wednesday night of that week that she let on something was up. Adoration was that night, preceded by a passion skit. One of the girls had a beautiful experience with Jesus’ Presence, and I commented that sometimes Jesus comes through the emotions, amazing experiences, but sometimes He comes through just a gentle realization. As soon as those words left me, this girl started crying, and she told us that she’d come through the gates of camp an agnostic (someone who believes there could be a God, but wants proof). She had led the decade of the rosary to try to speed us up, as we were praying too slowly for her liking. She had told God that night, “alright, if You’re real, give me a sign.” In Adoration, she’d told God “alright, if You’re real, change the words of the song to the first person (they were in third). Almost immediately, the words changed from “Come Jesus” to “I have called you, you are Mine.” She was blown away. So many more things happened that week to affirm the reality of God’s existence to her, and being a witness to it was so humbling and profound… I didn’t have words for it, and in many ways, I still don’t. All I know is that God has amazing plans for that young lady.
For me in my personal life, God filled me up with so much love, all I can say is He is my everything. Through His holy Mama, her intercession for me, and the incredible staff I worked with, I was so uplifted and encouraged in my walk with Jesus. Prayers were answered, needs were filled, graces were poured out, and I don’t have words to thank God for the gift of this summer. Thankfully, He doesn’t expect me to find the words to thank Him. He just wants me to keep my hands steady on the plow He’s placed before me, and not look back. With His grace, and the loving intercession of my beautiful Heavenly Mama, I will do just that!
From the rising of the Sun
To the going down of the same
The name of the Lord
Shall be praised!