One of the nice things about the Shack is that it gives me a venue in which I can wax nostalgic about things that have great meaning in my life. I rather enjoy taking moments of time in which I look back at the people and places that played formative roles in my growth and development as a person.
One of the primary sculptors of my life is the time I spent as a camper and counselor at my summer camp. I suspect that should I ever achieve enough fame to merit a biography someone will go back there to try and gain some insight as to what it was about that place that made me love it so much.
Theyâ€™ll dig out old pictures and talk to friend and acquaintances. Theyâ€™ll wander through the trails I hiked and look at the things that I built (friendships and structures) and develop some kind of theory/formula that they can use to explain and sum me up. I donâ€™t know if it will have real meaning or give them true insight but I donâ€™t think that it can be discounted either.
When I think about camp I smile. I smile because there was a time that I was one of the giants of that place. I was a popular fixture and someone that others would always associate with the camp. That made me happy. It fed my ego but it also reminded me that I always had to give something back to camp and to the community it serves. I gained far too much not to help others share in that experience.
I recently had the experience to take my children there and to show them around the place. It was a great time but in many ways so very surreal. I walked the hills of my past with the future.
It has been fifteen years since I last worked there. Virtually all the people who knew me have moved on to other things. Most of the new group donâ€™t even know my name or any of the stories. That used to bother me, but not any more.
Now I understand that this is how it is for many people and places. My old college haunts are filled with new regulars. The old familiar faces are gone and new ones have replaced them. It is like that at camp.
Campers and staff look to other people as the fixtures that make the camp. I had my time in the sun and that moment has passed me by. But it doesnâ€™t mean that I donâ€™t still love it. It doesnâ€™t mean that I donâ€™t take great joy in being there and most importantly it doesnâ€™t mean that I cannot give back.
I owe it to the people who helped me and I owe it to the children, both my own and others to do what I can to keep that place running.
I have my memories and I have my experiences but that doesnâ€™t mean that I have to settle for those. There are new ones to be had and new smiles to be shared.
But lord I would be lying if I didnâ€™t say that there were little quiet moments in which I got lost. Iâ€™d be fooling myself if I didnâ€™t admit to looking and listening for the people that made that place so special to me.
As we made Havdalah I closed my eyes and I could hear them singing and feel them standing next to me. For a moment I was just a boy and then I opened my eyes to the smiling face of my daughter and the laughter of my son and the ache was replaced with a brand new memory that has its own special place in my heart.
Maybe it was just a trick of the twilight but as I chased that little boy down a hill right in front of me he grew more than a foot and I could swear that I for a brief moment in time I saw the man he is going to become.
Life is good, but at times it is ever so bittersweet.