Most kids have to write a paper of some sort about what they did over the summer, and I consider myself no different. I had the distinct honor last week to attend Catholic Heart Work Camp in St. Louis, MO. I didn't go alone, I was accompanied by 17 teens, my brother Joe, my brother-in-law Hugh, and my new friend, Tim (the brave young man who has worked as the Youth Minister for all of 2 weeks before leaving on this journey with us.) With company like that, how could anyone be nervous, right? Yeah, if you read my blog regularly, you know what a big nervous baby I am, no matter how brave I try to look.
The theme of the entire week was "Live Uncovered". Which, of course, means, being true to who you are. All the time. Even when you are unsure if your body can withstand working in 104 degree weather. Even when you are uncertain about whether people will like you when you are being yourself. Even when you would really like to square dance in the aisles during program. Even when your heart is so filled with love and concern for the girls in your work group that you spend a few days on the verge of tears. Living uncovered, for me, means letting my tears flow. Unashamed, they flowed down my face during Mass, during program, even when it was time to share in our groups. It's who I am. It's how I'm made, and I embrace it. (Maybe I should buy stock in the Kleenex company.)
I was given the best work crew, and I was blessed to work (and bond) with these amazing young ladies from all over. My group was all under 18, and some of the strongest people I've ever met. I pray they can boldly charge into the futures, taking courage in the fact that they are way ahead of their peers because they have experienced this week. If they can keep in their hearts the message that it's not only "OK" to be yourself, but "crucial" to be yourself, they will live happy lives. God only made one copy of each of us. No one else is endowed with the same gifts. The world would be missing out if we refuse to use the gifts we are given. This week, these girls gave the gifts of scraping paint, and weeding, and cleaning sticks out of gutters. We discovered that social networking could benefit from the invention of a "Sarcasm" font that "exudes eye-rolling and excessive Sass." We also discovered that we worked well with others, when we joined with Group 29 on the last 2 days.
It was so amazing to me how quickly we went from 7 people who had never met to feeling like sisters. It was like the light of God's love that we each had inside came together, making a huge spiritual fire that gave us the strength to burn away the parts that were not "us". It gave one girl the ability to soften another leader's heart, and give him the freedom to talk about his triplet daughters. It gave another the courage to be her honest self with me, allowing me the chance to see her perspective on life, whether we agree or not. It gave others the security to be real and honest with their fears and questions, and to know they were loved and would not be judged because of their questioning. It made me feel safe and cared for, and that I wasn't the odd one out, but rather, another sister-friend in the group.
I sweated more than I ever have in my whole life. I actually drenched clothes in my own sweat. I could barely lift my arms after the first day. I say that, because I keep hearing the same words from the Mass (which are from the Last Supper.) "This is my body which will be given up for you." I'm here to live my life as Jesus did. I offered to be his follower. So....."This is MY body, which I have given up for you." Last week I gave up my body for His people in St. Louis. I gave up sleeping in a bed to do his work with a group of girls from Minnesota and Illinois, Massachusetts and Wisconsin. I gave up my body's sweat to help a lady who had knee replacement and couldn't paint her garage, and faced another citation from the city. I danced this broken down, weak old body half silly with praise of my maker. I gave my body to a conga line of teens singing to God's Glory. I dragged my tired achy bones out of the bedroll at 5 am to get a shower before doing it all again. Day after day after glorious day. All because He gave up HIS beautiful, perfect, beloved body for me. Just so I could have this life. So I could live, Uncovered. In St. Louis, and beyond.
My body is recovering. My heart was broken and blessed and shared. Now it's time for me to go live uncovered. Won't you let the world be blessed by the real you?