For 3 summers and the 2 school years in-between, I worked at Young Life’s Oakbridge outside of San Diego. Summers were all Young Life, all the time… but, the off-season was a crazy mix of women’s retreats and schools and youth groups and choirs…
and firefighters. Yes.
Every summer, San Diego’s finest would take over camp for a week and host the Burn Institute‘s Camp Beyond the Scars for burn-injured children. It was the only time I skipped the ropes course dos and don’ts. These guys rappel off burning buildings, negotiate hostage situations, and save lives on a daily basis. Pretty sure I don’t have to double-check their knots or harnesses. I was quick with the coffee, though, I can tell you that.
Firefighters drive trucks. Big trucks. The last night of camp, after every kid and leader was tucked into bed, they fired up their diesels and headed down the driveway. My first year, I assumed they had to be back at work in the morning and would skip the last breakfast. I shut out the lights, locked up the office, and went to bed.
The next morning, I walked outside to find all the trucks back in the parking lot… and a few on the grass. *ahem, make a note to mention that at breakfast* The firemen hadn’t gone home at all. They’d driven to find snow and brought it back by the truckload. Enough to fill our whole soccer field. When the kids woke up and left their cabins, they found themselves in the middle of a snowball fight. A winter wonderland. A miracle. *ahem, forget note to move trucks off grass*
I have never, to this day, seen anything like it.
The next two summers I hosted the group, I was prepared for the late night snow haul. It’s a rare thing to know a miracle is about to happen. I wanted a front row seat. Both times, I woke up giddy with anticipation… mentally begging the kids to roll out of their beds and stumble outside.
‘WHAT IS THAT?!’
I cried, of course. Every time. The excitement on their faces… some of them so terribly scarred by fire they could not eat properly… the excitement over nearly-frozen water. For 30 minutes, they were thrilled. Safe. Normal. Lucky. Oh, Friends. I sobbed.
I cried the tears of a single girl with no Littles of her own, no real danger in my life, and no troubles. I cried with genuine heart, but little understanding. Not that you have to feel pain to feel empathy. No. But, experience brings a different kind of joy, amen?
And so now…
after these past few years in a different world of special-needs…
I find myself with more wounds and uglier scars… but greater faith… because it has been tested and found true. I am less afraid. I am quicker to praise. I am easily and often tired.
But the celebration?
It is deep and wide.
It’s like waking up and finding snow on the ground in the middle of a desert after being marred by fire.
There ARE things out there that make life- even hard life– worth celebrating. Sometimes it takes a friend… or complete stranger… to clear a path, make the effort, pray on your behalf, send a good report, cook dinner, hug, laugh, cry, or sit in silence. Every once in awhile…
we wake up to snow.
Make it snow, Friends.