Saints & Poets

“…I can’t. I can’t go on. It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed… Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it–every,every minute?”

“No. …The saints and poets, maybe they do some.”

-Our Town, Thornton Wilder, 1937

Right now, I’m sitting in the A/V office at Jumonville, surrounded by computer screens and enough video tapes to make a public library jealous. They’re all videos of camps, or most of them, but that’s beside the point. Alex’s iPod is plugged into the speakers and playing on low volume. It’d be louder, but it’s being drowned out by the two air conditioning units. My arch-nemesis, the Lacie 5Big network storage device, is turned off. And that’s how it will stay until I get around to calling tech support. Yeah, I’ve given up. Their stupid web site instructions for resetting the **** thing are useless. But let’s drop that.

Alex is sitting across from me staring in a very bored way at a screen. It’s Friday, at the end of a week with a lot of maintenance for adventure staff like me. My little sister came to camp, but she got sick Thursday morning and had to go home Thursday night.

I open the door to go downstairs. It’s 8:30 at night, but outside the A/V room, it’s still gotta be 90 degrees. Then I head into the main office. Ashley is sitting at the desk watching the office listening to “Lead Me To The Cross,” the new version that annoys the crap out of me, on K-Love over the internet. It keeps buffering. The song annoys me because of the line “rid me of myself, I belong to You.” I’m pretty sure God wants to HAVE us, not have us be rid of us. The song is spiritual-sounding, but theologically (not to mention logically) incorrect. I change that line when I sing it. …Strike K-Love. It She was playing it from myspace. But I digress. The reason I mentioned that was because, well, our internet here is pretty slow. But what do you expect on a mountaintop in the middle of the woods? We’re blessed to have T1 at all!

The longer I live, the more proofs I find of this fact: there is little inspiration to be found indoors. I go outside. It’s not as hot out here as just outside the A/V room.

It’s that awkward time between day and night. Peaceful. Probably my favorite time of day. You can see fine without the street lights still, but they’ve come on just the same. I sit down on the porch steps outside of Captain Webb and listen to the cicadas. They’re singing like there’s no tomorrow.

Then the internet has a breakdown. Second one in two days. I go inside to see if it works on Sarah’s computer. It doesn’t, so I restart the router. Second time in two days. That D-Link has lived a good life. It’s getting close to time for it to go away.

The sky is becoming a darker shade of blue, and the moon is glimmering through the trees. It’s cooling off, finally.

A flock of birds flies overhead, chirping and chattering and rushing like a bunch of teenage girls about to go to the mall. The cicadas had quieted down, but they picked up their song again, only for a moment.

The door to Captain Webb is open. There’s a light on inside, but I don’t think anyone is there. Ree’s car is here, and not across the street, which is confusing. She should be home – and probably is.

The lights are starting to glow brighter as the sky turns indiscernably from blue and bright to black and starry. Ashley pokes her head out the door of the office and asks if I have everything out. Seems I’m prone to leaving things behind. She walks up to the girl’s staff cabin, leaving me alone to my thoughts and my writing.

I find my way over to the grass under a big tree where I can see where the sun went down. Here in the shade of the thick-trunked tower, the lightning bugs are glowing. I haven’t seen lightning bugs for way too long. The chapel is directly in front of me, looking strong and a bit like a fortress. A couple cars fly by, driving faster than they should be. Probably about the speed I drive.

The leaves on the trees are swaying in the gentle breeze. The sky is pink above the chapel. Ree’s light is on, so she’s probably home. I sit in the grass a moment and listen for the sounds of the insects, the birds, the breeze in the trees, and the air conditioner in Nate’s office. The ground is hard, and the grass is short. And the darkness keeps coming. Even my netbook’s screen is glowing now.

I feel the breeze gently dance across my skin and stare idly across the grass. I’m at peace. Real peace. Peace for the first time in a while. Something I’ve learned about peace is that peace isn’t related to the storm. Peace doesn’t mean the storm is over. It doesn’t mean that you suddenly have all the answers to all the questions you have. It just means you’re okay with not having them. That’s peace.

I lay down in the grass to think. The fiery sensation that goes flying through my nerves reminds me that I was dumb today and didn’t wear sunscreen at the pool. I figured I’d be fine. I figured wrong. And the awkward feeling in my back reminds me that I need to find someone tall to crack my back. But mostly it’s the view. How many people actually look up into trees, anyway? I mean, there’s all this gorgeousness and nobody sees it. I haven’t laid under a tree in way too long.

Then the old familiar questions come back, as cars pass… I guess a lot of people my age are asking them… Who am I going to marry; where are we going to live; what will I do to pay the bills; will I like it; will I be a good dad; will the past come back to haunt me;will I relive my dad’s life; and of course, how am I going to pay for college? Then a Bible verse slips through my head. It’s the words of Jesus, when He says not to worry and keep asking “What will we eat, what will we drink, what will we wear?” because that’s what the rest of the world is after. That’s what they freak out about and chase after. It’s so against-the-grain to everything I’ve lived. It’s hard to turn off the asking and seek first the Kingdom. A thought crosses my head: What if I’m too busy seeking first the kingdom to even see the girl God wants me to love the rest of my life? Then I laugh. Little danger of that.

It’s getting dark. Kristen W just ran out one door of Washington Lodge, happily singing a random song whose words sounded like “Bah-bah-bah, bah” and closely followed by Jules. (Jules wasn’t singing). Then she ran back in another. Neither of them saw me sitting here enjoying the night. Not that anything would’ve changed if they had.

I think I’m going to go into the chapel. After I drop off my netbook in the A/V office. Good night.

About David M. Schell





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