Summer Camp, A Tree, A Lake & A Knowing

It seems I have taken an unintended Sabbatical. (You can read my last post by clicking HERE.) I am excited to be back here in this writing space. 

lake opeka

Recently my counselor suggested I remember a time/place where I felt Jesus present with me and to stay in that place. I knew right away what it would be.  So I took myself to my lake, sat under my willow tree  and wrote as I remembered (because if I donâ write I’d soon be making to do lists)

Summer Camp, A Tree, A Lake & Knowing
written May 21, 2015

I remember all of it.
The campground tabernacle
Up on the hill behind me
The tree where I sat
The lake with the pier
The wooden floating raft calling me
I had to pass a swimming test
Before I could answer the call.
(which I passed with my
flailing arms/kicking legs
self-taught technique.)

“Find a quiet place
to be with God
my camp counselor said to us. .

Being a lover of nature,
itnot surprising I soon found
my pony-tailed, 6th grade,
first-time-at-camp self
under the tree
by the lake.

Bible beside me
study guide in my lap
pencil in hand,
filling in the blanks.

And suddenly God was real
I knew that I knew
It was all true, all of it.
God sending Jesus.
Jesus dying
Jesus rising from the dead
For me.

Mostly I remember Jesus presence.
And a knowing
Under the tree,
By the lake.

* * *

And today, my 67-year-old, grown-up self makes a connection I have never made before.

I have always remembered this summer camp experience as the summer of 6th grade

And it was in the spring of 6th grade my little brother died
one morning
at home
with no warning

And if God met me then.
And it was all true then
It’s true now.

Tears come as I sense your presence
Leaning into your strength
Your gentleness
I put my head on your shoulder
as my grown-up 67-year-old self
relaxes in your love
sitting under the tree
with a journal
and a pen
beside the lake.



33 Replies to “Summer Camp, A Tree, A Lake & A Knowing”

  1. Carol, just beautifully written. How special that the Lord gave you this wonderful memory and the powerful impact that it is having on you today so many years later! {{HUGS}}

    1. It’s good to see you here this morning. The power of memories, eh? And how even in times when it feels like God isn’t present, it’s good to know He is- and even when we doubt, He still stays right there.

  2. “And if God met me then. And it was all true then It’s true now.” Amen! Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Carol, this is such a moving and poignant read. How reassuring it is to be aware of God’s presence in our lives today and to know (whether we sensed it or not) that He was with us as children, as growing teens and young adults, in every painful place we’ve been in, witnessing each tear, each heartbreak. Beautiful post to herald your return to writing. Thank you. 🙂

    1. thank you Joy for visiting. The connection was stunning when i realized it. As if often the case for me, writing was the vehicle. So often I start out in my journal not really knowing where I am going to end. I suspect it is that way for a lot of us.

      Joy, I was just over at your blog and read “blue” and left a comment there. It was such a sweet space for me this afternnon.

  3. Isn’t it amazing to look back on God’s encounters with us and see how lovingly strategic He is in the when and the where. I love that weather we’re 7 or 27 or 67, He’s still meeting us, still teaching us, still healing us.

    1. Elizabeth. thanks for visiting from Portland, where 40 % of my heart resides. It was good to get to know you at JT a bit.

  4. Simply beautiful! My heart is happy for you and this healing. connection you have discovered of God’s presence.

    I am so glad you are back writing on your blog. You are a dear friend and I am blessed when you share your heart through your writing. I often see God more clearly and your sharing of your journey often touches places in my own heart that I may have not noticed.

    1. you, dear friend of mine, know how much you mean to me and how much your words here mean to me. thank you for reminding me once again of why God as asked me to write. Sometimes i just want to forget it all, but I can’t.

  5. May I sit with you? Under that tree, by the lake. My 6th grade self knew this intimacy with God and knows it still. It is all true. You are right to remember. Bless your believing heart. Thank you for sharing this with me.

    1. if I ever come to NYC again, I will come to visit and we’ll sit in Central Park, under a tree, by the water! deal??!

    1. yes, Linda – I am glad to be back to. Just being able to do this represents the incremental changes that have been taking place in me over past 6-8 weeks. and I am grateful.

    1. the tree and lake thing – others are saying the same. I have this continuing question I ask myself many times – what is it about a tree and water? I am sure there is some reasonable explanation….do you have one?

    1. Thank you Jeff – that means a lot to me – that it would speak to you. Thank you for visiting here

  6. I really liked this. The change from the general ‘camp experience’ to your expression of an extremely personal tragedy is thought provoking and emotionally captivating.

    It shows me too that though time passes, we never go through a time of grieving, into a time of grieving where we do not need the presence of Jesus. We always need Him, always need a reminder of His presence and faithfulness.

    Thank you for the reminder. It is an ever present need.

    1. yes, the ever present need – and when I go through times where it is hard to sense his presence it is leaves me feeling unsettled, untethered. I am grateful to know His presence is still there even in those times.
      thanks for visiting here Michael

    1. isn’t that the truth, Marilyn. I have such a hard timd corralling my ADHD mind, but when i write – ah, that is the big thing that helps me the most.

    1. yes, the connection was rather astounding. healing. and thanks for your input into starting again.

  7. Carol,

    Love the tenderness in how God met you as I read your words:

    “Tears come as I sense your presence
    Leaning into your strength
    Your gentleness
    I put my head on your shoulder
    as my grown-up 67-year-old self
    relaxes in your love”

    Thank you,

    1. Dolly. It certainly was a point I have always looked back on and to have it connect with where I am now. 55 years later left me a bit speechless. Good to see you here Dolly.

  8. Carol, how wonderful that Jesus assured you of His presence in 6th grade during such a difficult time, and to know today, that He is here with you now! Beautifully expressed!

    1. yes, Jackie, it was a powerful experience – then and now. If you are the Jackie I think you are, it’s good to be reconnected once again after all these years!

  9. This is so beautifully evocative Carol! You invite me to go back to 6th grade. Or to my first “sit alone with God out in nature” experience. How wonderful that you can see that God was faithful to little Carol, and still is. Thank you.

    1. i bet you could put your finger on some of those pivotal moments for your little girl. I am so blessed to have you as a journeying companion during these life stages. thank you friend

  10. Carol, this is so lovely and I’m thrilled you sat with the Lord and wrote it out.

    “Mostly I remember Jesus’ presence.
    And a knowing
    Under the tree,
    By the lake.”

    That bit gave me chills. Thank you, friend. <3

    1. Dana, you know you have been part of encouraging this return to creative writing. thank you young friend!

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