Sarah Culpepper explains the joy of working at LLYC in her winning essay for the It’s Time to Tell Your Story contest!
Crickets. That’s the only sound I hear when I ask a question during Cabin Time, our time of reflection after Roundup. Now, I’ve been with these girls for at least seven days and I haven’t heard it this quiet ever. It’s been sound from six in the morning when I hear the first trunk slam, then the excited whispers in the bathroom, then the intermittent screams and laughter on the porch. All throughout the day on the playfield, during activities, during the most sacred naptime, in between being dunked in the river, and dancing after dinner—I hear constant noise from these girls. And yet, in a moment I really want them to speak up, I see the same two hands who raise their hands for every question, and a lot of wandering eyes. Finally, one girl speaks up, only to say, “I forgot.”
I totally get it. I understand disinterest, I understand feeling tired, I understand the repetition. I was a camper for five years. I did work crew and have been a counselor for two years. And I knew the Lord years before I knew about Laity Lodge through my parents, through my church, and through the stories I had heard my whole life. I’ve heard the stories a million times. Yet, when I came back this summer as a counselor again, I found I had forgotten so much. My heart had grown frustrated and tired by what it means to live the Christian life.
When we think of faith like a child, it can so often seem like a mindless, blind trust in God due to the innocence and lack of experience of a young boy or girl. But after sitting in Morning Times and Cabin Times and in-between times, I’ve found that the faith of a child is more substantial than at first glance because the questions they dream of are more complex and thoughtful than any musings I’ve had about God for years. My eleven-year-old campers are pondering God in a way I have long forgotten.
Of course, they still ask if their dogs go to heaven or if dinosaurs are real.
But the wonder of children is more than I can fathom. Their wonder of the garden, of how the Red Sea was parted, of before the beginning of time and after. If the power of God is strong enough to move mountains, then why did my parents get divorced? Why did Adam and Eve get to make a tangible choice in the garden but I’m born with sin? Why are girls at school mean?
The funny thing about being in a position where I am asked more and more questions is that I know fewer and fewer answers. The beauty of the Canyon is the simplicity and sufficiency of the gospel. For these girls now and for me, sometimes reciting, knowing, and believing is enough. It may not be enough later, but it’s enough to repeat the chorus for now. And it satisfies. Regardless of hurt or confusion, the girls still run through the fields and are overjoyed when they win Nine Square and distraught when there isn’t dessert at lunch. (Still. We still never have dessert at lunch.)
In the thunder clatter of noise and busyness, in the rush of life, I find it easy to forget the simple gospel and my reliance on grace. I forget the beauty in small things and the majesty of who God is. I forget trust beyond understanding and the magnitude of faith like a child. But when I go back to the Canyon, I always start to remember. I see the glory and power and creativity of the Lord in sunrises and stars and the hills. I’ve watched baptisms at Pebble Beach and skinned my knees walking through the river, and I am certain of freedom when I try to touch the bottom of Blue Hole. And there are beautiful juxtapositions of silliness and holiness from one moment to the next. It is more than I can understand, and it is simple, and regardless of ourselves, the gospel is enough.