As the mom dropped off her daughter in my cabin the first day of this particular week of camp, she explained to me that she had left her daughter's Ritalin prescription with the nurse. I asked her, like any good camp counselor would, when I should send her daughter to the health lodge to take them. “Oh,” she said, “just whenever you feel like she needs them.”
I wondered what that meant and how that conversation would go with a camper. “Hey, Jesus loves you, you're driving me crazy, go medicate.” I decided I wouldn't do that unless the camper herself said she needed them. She never said that.
I kind of wish she would have.
It was one of the last weeks of the summer. I was exhausted. They were short on high school students to help out as “counselors in training” that week, so I was solely responsible for these 8 girls, one of which was a little off the wall.
I took ten minutes to myself, that was it. It was after dinner and I stayed back after my campers so I could help wipe down tables and talk with my friends. Then I slowly (very slowly) started the trek back to my cabin where I hoped they would all be peacefully waiting for me on their bunk beds, hands folded or something.
As I climbed the hill, I heard them. Chanting. As I urged myself to continue walking, I saw the top of a tree moving frantically, much more than the top of a tree should be moving. I reached the top of the hill and looked down at my campers, in a straight line, following their leader- my Ritalin deprived camper- chanting as she carried a tree (I did not say branch or sapling, but tree) in a wild march in front of the cabins.
In the moment, I had a choice.
I wanted to yell. I wanted to crush this. I wanted to scream, “WHY?!” “What are you DOING?” “STOP IT!” “THIS IS SO STUPID!” “I AM SO TIRED!” “HEY! JESUS LOVES YOU, YOU'RE DRIVING ME CRAZY, GO MEDICATE!!”
Love is like this: It reminds you to take a deep breath. It helps you walk calmly down the hill. It helps you remember the joy of chanting. It grins as you take the tree into your own hands, carry it to the courtyard, prop it on a chair. It celebrates as you join hands with sweaty, funny, loud twelve year old girls. It spins with you, around and around, it SINGS. Love gives life instead of death.