Camp Stevens is like a bubble. Our bubble is, in many ways, our greatest asset – a peaceful place apart where children and adults can get away from the busyness of every day life and escape to the mountains for adventure and renewal. And frankly, there is little else to do here besides have a conversation with one another and the beautiful nature that surrounds us!
But we are not in so much of a bubble that we were unaffected by Friday’s events in Newtown. And by that I mean I am not in so much of a bubble that I was unaffected by Friday’s events in Newtown.
I heard about the shooting on Facebook. After a few friends had posted vague comments about prayer and sadness, I did a quick search of internet news to discover the horrific story … and then I stopped reading and listening for a while.
While I cannot imagine the grief of losing a colleague my own age or a child I’ve grown to love and cherish over the course of years, I have experienced loss. Last fall I lost a baby halfway through pregnancy. I got to hold Elsabeth in August, but she wasn’t due to be born until Christmas Day. She was the length of my hand and had tiny ears, a nose, fingers and toes.
During the weeks and months that have followed, I’ve learned a few things about loss and grief. I’ve learned to give myself permission to redefine normal, to be honest about where I am emotionally, and that it’s okay not to have all the answers.
I find these lessons to be applicable to all kinds of grief: the loss of a loved one, the loss of an idea or a hope or a feeling of safety, divorce or break-up, or the loss of a hundred chickens at Camp Stevens.
Still today sometimes I’m angry and sometimes I’m sad and sometimes I go about my day fully in the present moment. But I am changed – from the death and birth of my daughter and from the death of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, CT. My world is different. My story is different. I will grieve. I will cry. I will listen to Patty Griffin, read Mary Oliver, and find comfort in my Prayer Book. I will redefine normal. I will try to be honest about where I am. I will never have all the answers.
I debated whether or not this blog was an appropriate place to offer any thoughts about Newtown and I obviously decided yes. Here’s why. Camp Stevens may be a bubble, but it’s also an amazing real-life laboratory where campers, guests, and short- and long-term staff get to experience and reflect on the realities of life. We do this through outdoor education programs and summer camp adventure groups, by offering space for adult groups to build community, and by coming together as a staff to check in and offer each other feedback and support. At Camp we share stories of the earth and stories of our own, we try to effect change, we don’t pretend to have all the answers. And then we reflect.
Especially at Christmastime, I wish all the realities of life were joyous, but they are not. And so we look – I look – and “linger to admire, admire, admire the things of this world that are kind, and maybe also troubled – roses in the wind, the sea geese on the steep waves, a love to which there is no reply?” (from Mary Oliver’s poem, “Heavy,” in her book, Thirst)
In light of last week’s tragedy, perhaps David Seltzer of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory said it best:
For some moments in life there are no words.
Whim: “sudden idea.” This weekly post promises a number of things: personal thoughts and reflections, showing off Camp Stevens’ programs and staff, announcements for upcoming opportunities, and answering questions or responding to comments “from the audience.” If you have a topic or question you’d like addressed, just e-mail Beth!