Saturated Souls

lt was a typical weekend trip born of spontaneity and a sense of adventure.  Never mind that the color of the clouds and the feel of the air did not bode well for the weather, we were going to Flat Lick Falls.  Most went with the intention of taking a leap of faith from the top of the fall to the pool at the bottom.  I on the other hand, being neither a daredevil nor a fish, went simply to see another piece of landscape, another work of creation, another piece of art carved from the land with loving hands.  And no one was disappointed.

As promised, the sky had started to let loose by the time that we arrived.  The rain was quietly sliding down noses and resting in droplets on shoulders.  I watched the jumpers for a bit from a rock in the middle of the stream that wanders from the bottom of the waterfall.  Some were seasoned pros, greeting the familiar rush from solid rock to sky to water slap.  Some were rookies, standing at the top of the fall, staring down, trying to swallow fear long enough to embrace exhiliration.  One by one, jumper after jumper leapt into the water, then climbed back up the hill for more, rain falling all the while.  Meanwhile, I could feel the water and the rock pulling me on, inviting me to explore.

It’s impossible to turn down invitations such as these.  Rock hopping from one shore to the next.  Climbing this rock, then that.  Sliding down now very muddy paths.  Ducking under branches.  Stopping to stare, mouth open in awe.  Quietly humming a tune of cotentment under my breath, not minding water dripping from clothes or mud splattered across a leg.  The ground is saturated, and so am I.

It’s a simple picture, this.  A group of summer camp counselors, amusing themselves on the weekend.  But it’s just a part of the whole.  Because you don’t just find leaps of faith, swallows of fear, rivulets of water, tunes of contentment, spatters of mud and total saturation on weekend wanderings.  Most of them, in fact, are found at camp.

There is both faith and fear here at Camp AJ.  Fear of jumping into a deep lake that could swallow you whole.  Faith that a counselor, or better yet, Big Mama the turtle, will be there to catch you should you ever come close.  At the beginning, fear of leaving home and family for a week.  At the end, faith that camp will be here for you once again next summer, now that you have learned there is nothing to fear.

There is music.  Quietly strummed during morning songs.  Sung at the top of lungs whilst hiking the trails.  Shouted with great gusto after dinner and around campfires.

There are tears of sadness.  From campers, momentarily homesick.  From campers, bummed that the week is over, wishing that they could stay at camp forever.  From counselors, crying for kids with half our years and ten times our pain.  Pain that we long to take away but can’t.

There are tears of joy.  Little moments – a tiny, skinny, little boy dancing his “Irish dance” to a country song at the talent show; a tired but determined young man struggling his way up a mountain during a hike led on by encouraging cheers from his peers and helping hands from his counselors; a kind smile, a laugh, a calm word amidst a storm.  Little moments that fill up your heart with so much happiness that some of it needs to be released.

At camp, we truly are saturated – in faith and in fear, in joy and in pain, but mostly in love.  Which, after all, has been known to conquer all things.

Back at the falls, the sky has truly let loose.  The rain comes down in sheets, pouring down the rocks, soaking our hair, our towels, our clothes.  We run to the car across the mud, across the water that is starting to pool.

We run across the saturated ground with our saturated souls.

Saturated in rain.

Saturated in tears.

Saturated in love.

Saturated in life.

If Only for a While

It started with a plane ride.  Quiet, cold, sleepy.  The plane ride sifted into a quiet day, breathing in the mountains hanging over a lake at a camp created by a man with nothing but faith, friends,  and a heart full of love.

And then orientation.  I went to another one of these a little less than two years ago.  The ice breakers, the whereareyoufrom, the tellmeaboutyourself.  The training – first aid, CPR, safety, hiking, games.  The sight of familiar faces and the sound of familiar stories that remind me once again why I love this organization so much.

Hello again, Kentucky.  Hello again, Christian Appalachian Project.  Hello again, Camp AJ.

I’m back.

If only

for a while.