From April 26, 2018
As I mourn heartbreaking endings, I hear God say, “Lekh, Lekha,” the Hebrew phrase for “go!” and I know that it is time to move on.
As many of you know, I’ve recently accepted a prestigious internship in Manhattan for the summer, working with Reader’s Digest and staying at NYU. It sounds like it would’ve been the easiest decision in the world to make, but boy, that was not the case.
On Sunday, I found myself falling into the nostalgia trap (don’t do it, kids) and thinking about my summers at Camp Men-O-Lan. I remembered Sundays during the summer, when I would be preparing my heart and my cabin for another round of spirited and sweaty campers. Sweeping the floor from the previous week’s dirt, reading the list of campers that would reside in my cabin, and praying for patience and strength.
Camp Men-O-Lan, as most of you know, is my place. I was a camper there from 6th-12th grade, and then they told me I was too old to be a camper, so natch, I became a counselor the summer before my freshman year at Temple. In the three summers that I worked there, I was stretched farther than I ever thought possible; mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Upon arriving to Camp, there is nothing inherently special about it. It’s located in the woods of Quakertown, Pennsylvania (arguably the most boring town in the region, but it does have the longest stretch of fast food chains in the entire state, so that’s something). It’s infested with bugs, it doesn’t have any exceptional views or mountain-scapes, and it’s rather rocky. But there’s something about the immediate peace you feel as you walk onto camp property that can only be described as holiness. I often feel like Moses did in Exodus 3:5, when God commanded him to take off his sandals, because he was walking on holy ground. At camp, I am commanded to take off my metaphorical sandals; my burdens, my anxieties, and my mistakes, and step into God’s holy place.
Camp Men-O-Lan is my Promised Land.
When I reached the culmination of my final summer at Camp, I had to declare it so that I could actually come to terms with it. I was dreading that moment of realization since I started working there in 2015. I was the counselor to hundreds of young women and girls, I’ve led hundreds of morning and evening devotions, I’ve played my fair share of Gold Rush, Capture the Flag, and Mission Impossible, and I’ve sung thousands of songs to the Lord. This past summer, my co-counselor and I helped our camper receive Jesus on the porch of our cabin. We shared in deeply spiritual moments as well as deeply hilarious moments. I could go on for days about all this place has done for me, but I won’t, because I’ve been advised that blogs are supposed to be shorter than novels.
As I sit in my apartment desk chair, researching NYU, the closest juice bar, and how far away Soul Cycle is from my residence hall, I can’t help but feel a pang of sadness that I won’t be returning to my holy place. But I am reminded that God doesn’t keep us where we’re comfortable. If that was the case, Paul, who was, perhaps, the greatest evangelist, would never have left Tarsus to preach the Good News. And then what would’ve happened?
God gives us these incredible experiences, where we are stretched and challenged, but He knows that if we stay in the same place, it will, at some point, not challenge us any longer. In my case, I think God knew I needed something drastic to take me away from camp. Enter: an internship that will likely change my life.
I’m not sure what God has in store for the summer. No clue. And that’s scary. I can’t count on the comforts of having every hour scheduled months in advance like I did when I was at camp. I have to just…go. Men-O-Lan has equipped me with everything I need to continue my faith journey. I don’t need to be afraid. I don’t need to lie in the fetal position, mourning time away from my place (yeah…that happened)–it will always be there.
And perhaps I’ll find another holy place, say, Washington Square Park, where I feel so spiritually led to take off my shoes and acknowledge that it is my new holy ground to sit and be with my Father.
“Lekh, Lekha!” He says as he nudges me away from my Promised Land.
”Go! I’m not finished with you yet.”