Ok, so a week or two ago I thought of someone I hadn't thought of in a long time. Another one of my reminiscing moments, I wondered what had ever happened to the redhead I met one weekend at a church camp when I was in high school.
Long, long ago, in a state far, far away, our high school youth group climbed into a white rental van with Carol at the wheel, headed for some place at the other end of the state. It was a dark and stormy trip and the rental van was too small for the number of people in it and all their luggage. Even so, our group was far smaller than usual. The usual stuff, Patty freaking out over bridges, Jeff flicking people's ears and everyone laughing and making lots of noise. The windows were all fogged and it was really, really dark.
I really don't remember the camp, other than I think it was on the water and we had to travel out of and back into the state to get to it. It was surrounded by lots of trees, and all the buildings were unconnected. At some point during the weekend, I connected with her, and we hung out a lot of the weekend. There was a meeting hall with tall ceilings, dirty walls in need of a fresh coat of paint, and quite possibly dark wood beams rising up to meet the ceiling every so often. Lots of those metal chairs with built-in cushions covered by that fake leather plastic stuff. Possibly dingy yellow. You know the kind, the metal loops around the top to make a handle and they stack and always have holes where stuffing's coming out. There might have been a big indoor fitness area with an astroturf floor, but I'm not sure. And the biggest surprise of all, I don't remember the food. You'd think if anything, I'd remember food, considering my fondness for it. But then again, I've been to a lot of camps and the food is really all the same, isn't it? The weekend was wet, wet, wet. I'm not sure if the rain ever stopped. And I think there were leaks in the walls of the bunk rooms, because I remember stuff being so wet that I got the car keys from Carol and went and slept in the van. I remember the van was parked under a light and that the van leaked because I did not sleep well. I also remember going to a laundramat in town one afternoon to dry a lot of our stuff. I remember standing with her on the last day trying to find someone with a camera so we could get a picture while my youth group rather forcefully insisted that I get a move on, that they were ready to head back home. So, I said my goodbyes, headed for home.
Ok, that sets the stage. It was a remote place, and in a word, I was living like a sleep-deprived, drowned rat. At yet, something pretty phenomenal happened. Ok, remember the redhead.
Fast-forward to Monday.
As I was getting ready for work, the computer was on on the kitchen and the work e-mail was open like it nearly always is. No time to read e-mail, I hit the refresh button to see what kind of mail would be waiting for me when I got into the office. The usual spam, some mail from colleagues and a message titled "Way Back When" from someone who had a first name I'd only come across once before in my life and a last name I didn't recognize. Odd, I thought, and put the computer back into sleep mode, figuring when I got to work, I'd know if it was spam or not, since the computer at work always did a better job of putting spam into the junk mail folder where it belong.
So, off to work. Fired up the computer, went and got my coffee and came back to start the day. The message was still in my inbox, so probably not junk. So, I clicked on it. And there she was, the girl I'd hung out with that weekend, and whom I'd probably talked to on Prodigy (remember Prodigy?) at Brian Fischer's house twice and maybe corresponded with handwritten letters once or twice.
So I e-mailed her back to say that yes, I was indeed me, impressed that she had tracked me down. I would have to admit that I hadn't remembered her last night. But over the course of the conversation, she referred to me as her "savior" that weekend. Life had been tough and according to her, I had said and/or done stuff that really helped her during that period.
Note: After reading it, she felt that I really hadn't captured "how [she] needed [me] at all that weekend." That perhaps I still today don't fully understand the impact I made that weekend on her life.
What do you say to something like that? I'm still at a loss, but I've spent a week trying to figure out what that means. First off, I was just a goofy little 16 or 17 year old at the time. Those were not some of my finest years, either in how I lived them, or how life was treating me. It was a few years after the "visible black cloud years" but a savior? Second, that particular weekend I was probably functioning as a sleep-deprived half-drowned rat. If I was also connecting with people outside of my youth group, it could mean that I wasn't connecting well with the people from my group that had attended. A savior? Really?
I still can't wrap my brain around that. No matter how big my ego seems at time, I can't take that, blow on my fingernail, polish them on my shirt and sigh-out a "yep, I'm that good." I'm not. Makes you feel really humble to hear something like that. And I've debated with myself all week on whether I should write anything like this in my blog, if I could write anything. After a lot of internal debating, I finally decided that I would ask her if I could write something, offering to send it to her first, and if she was ok, I'd put it out there, just because that's what my blog is... my good, my bad, my ugly.
So how do I reconcile this? It ends up being very easy, very humbling. The only explanation I can come up with is that it wasn't me. Nope, not me. Sure, I was there. Sure, I hung out with her. Sure, words came from my mouth. But I have to believe it was God working through me. And that, that is both humbling and awesome.
And if it's true (and I believe it is), there's hope for me yet.
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