Friday, July 15, 2005

And Chris Wept

There is pleanty to weep for

I know I said I wasn't going to post till September, but I am enjoying a weekend break from camp and feel the need to post. The shortest verse in the bible is one of the most powerful. It is John 11:35, "And Jesus wept." Up and until a few days ago I had never experienced the act of weeping. Yes I have cried many times before, yet I had never wept for anything before. But something happen to me on July 13th 2005 that literally brought me to my knees weeping uncontrollably.

In order to understand my emotional state on July 13th I need to tell this story from the beginning. It was the summer of 2000 and my first summer as a counselor at Camp Shiloh. Through the course of the summer I met many amazing children who opened my eyes. There was one kid in particular that stood out among the rest. For the purpose of this public blog I will call him James (so that I might protect his privacy and dignity). James was an extremely sensitive boy. Some sensitive kids clam up when they feel pressure. Some kids lash out in a violent rage. James was one of the latter. Like a spark near two-cycle gasoline, James would explode at the drop of a hat. He would fight or curse anyone he felt was trying to control his surroundings. It didn't matter if you were a camper or a counselor, James would fight you for ever inch of control.

Well I've returned to camp every summer since 2000. James also came back summer after summer. Each summer he grew and matured as he got taller and taller. This summer he came back to teen session taller than me. Though James had matured physically since I first met him at age 9, he was still consumed with a violent rage. It had lessened since 2000, but it was clear when teen session began that his rage was still brewing beneath the surface.

It was almost the weekend when James earned his first of three discipline strikes. After three strikes a child must be sent home. He earned his first strike because he refused to walk back to the cabin in a light rain. It sounds ridiculous, but you have to understand is that when James is pressured his shield of rage goes up and he is no longer capable of making a rational decision. On Saturday James earned his second strike in similar fashion of refusing to go somewhere with the cabin. I honestly thought he would be sent home by Monday, but he actually made it to Wednesday. It was Wednesday morning when he earned his third and final strike.

Wednesday was the last full day of camp. Like always we began the day with breakfast. Our cabin was quietly eating breakfast when James and another boy in the cabin began to trade insults. The other boy wasn't even able to get out a second insult before James exploded from table cursing and challenging the other kid to fight him there in the rec hall. I managed to direct James towards the door where my brother and a volunteer had to hold him as rage grew. After he cooled down he was informed of this third strike. My brother packed his bags and placed them in the car. He then came to me and told me it was time to say good-bye.

James was already sobbing by time he reached the car. I teared up at first when I was holding him trying to tell him that everything was going to be ok. Then I let him go and he started for the car. It was at that moment when my tears turned into a weeping flood. So much weeping that I had to be held by another staff member for a good five minutes.

After 6yrs of watching James hurt and struggle with his rage my heart had been completely torn in two. My heart was torn because there was nothing I could do to take away the rage. My heart was torn because I knew that Shiloh was the only light in James's world which is still filled with darkness. My heart was torn because James was not going to leave camp angry, but leave camp knowing he will always be loved by me and the rest of Shiloh.

This experience has led me to a greater love for John 11:35. A reason I believe Jesus began to weep was because his heart, like mine, was torn in two. There he was in the midst of his creation and they were all suffering. I've only watched James suffer for 6 years. Now just imagine Jesus having the witness the suffering of his creation since the beginning. I am fully aware that me and Jesus are not one in the same. But he was just as human as I am now. Like letting go of James was my breaking point, so letting go of Lazarus a breaking point for Jesus.

My question to you is, What will it take for you to weep? Have you grown so callous to the suffering around you? Has your heart grown so hard that you no longer feel anything for the broken people of this world? There is war, AIDS, and cancer plaguing this world. Suffering is in the inner city. Suffering is in the suburbs. What will you do in the midst of such suffering? Will you continue to walk on by? Or will you take time to do as Jesus did and weep? Because I can only speak for Chris (myself) as to what happened when he came into contact with such suffering. What did Chris do? Chris wept.



Katherine Bal 11:57 PM  
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Katherine Bal 11:59 PM  

Chris, I wept when I read your entry. Perhaps because I know personally about the feelings youe describe regarding "James". I wonder if i know james? and that makes me feel it even more. a GREAT BIG you!! For pressing on to work with those kids. For being so determined in your work for them....For allowing God to work in you to BE that Light of Love towards them. I will be praying for James and for all of the other james's there at Shiloh - even more fervently than before. Thanks for the touching reminder that makes the word "shiloh" take on a deeply personal meaning.

Chris Ewing 6:26 AM  

Yes you do know "james" and you worked with him many times in 2000. feel free to email me or sallie for a better account of the story. Thank you too for all you have given to Shiloh. I am reaping the harvest of your labor. The seeds that people like you and Beth planted years ago have come to harvest. I am presently on staff with former campers Tina Maxwell, Jason Nieves, Sam Acevado and Adrian Elem (my co-co). They are my richest blessings and you are huge reason why they are still a part of Shiloh. Take care and be safe.



J-Wild 8:06 PM  

Powerfully written Chris. What I love about that verse "Jesus wept." Is that after that he raised Lazarus from the dead.

In some ways you did the same with James. You raised is to see God through your kindness. Even though you wept, you also healed through loving James the way you do.

That's why we all count down to your permenant arrival here in NYC.

Lori B.,  9:34 AM  

Thanks for sharing. Beautifully expressed. A powerful note that I hope many others will read and their heart will be stricken with the need to love so unconditionally as you do! James talked the entire car ride home, with concern for you, and love for you and Shiloh. What a testimony to your work. Not an everyday ride into the city for me, one I will remember always.

Kristi 6:21 PM  

I, too, was upset when I heard that James had been sent home. When he got off the bus this year, I remembered him and how special he was and is (though he looks nothing like the kid I remember) He's one of those kids that you can just tell has so much going on in his mind and heart. And, you just want to hug him. Thank you, Chris, for being there to hug him and let him know that everything will be ok. Thank you for your service year after year.

Anonymous,  2:22 PM  

Chris, I had lunch with your mother today. The apple does not fall far from the tree. I have seen and witnessed true compassion from her and now to read your words--it's fantastic! Hearing your story and spending time with fellow sisters and brothers is just like reading Jesus' accounts with others from the Bible. He continues to touch us...keep it up. Love, Rhonda

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