I don't know why they decided to take the elevator, but they did. Probably for the same reason people climb mountains and write songs. The Spirit moved them in that direction and they went with it.
I don't know why it jammed after moving upwards only a few feet. Perhaps the elevator was faulty. Perhaps they were too "active" in the elevator car. Perhaps it just happened out of dumb luck. Perhaps God had some lessons to teach us, and used this elevator for that purpose.
Let me start by saying that I am fully aware of how much my Harriett hates small enclosed spaces. I know how she gets panicky when the walls appear to close in on her, and I can only imagine the horror in her soul when she realized that the elevator was no longer moving, and that she may, in fact, be trapped in that metal box with her sister and her best friends, for an indefinite period of time. They started screaming immediately after the elevator stopped, and their friend and hero, Kathy, was on the other side of the door, immediately calling for back-up.
Lesson #1: When you discover you're stuck, call for help!
By the time I got there, it was almost a festive atmosphere. The girls were singing to pass the time and to control the anxiety. Staff members, priests, and an assortment of supportive team members worked to keep the girls happy, requesting songs and joking with them to keep them calm while the fire department and building and grounds crew did their best to remedy the elevator situation.
Lesson #2: When you're trapped in a metal box (real or metaphoric) you get to choose your reaction. You can panic and cry, or you can rally your troops and sing some 4 part harmony.
When the second fire and rescue vehicle arrived, things got a little more scary. Despite the best efforts of everyone involved, the fire department would have to use some rescue machinery known as the "Jaws of Life" to open the elevator door. They made everyone leave the area. I protested, "Those are MY kids!" "I'm sorry Ma'am, but you have to go, too." He was as sympathetic as he could be, given the circumstances. When I saw the equipment he was about to use on the door that held my precious daughters (and their cousin and friend, who I also count as my beloved daughters) I freaked out a little.
Lesson #3: When people you love are trapped in a metal box (real or metaphoric) DON'T
I went upstairs,as directed, but I didn't go outside with the rest of the team. I couldn't leave my kids! I stood at the elevator door, a floor above them and banged on the door so they could hear me. I hope they could hear me. I banged and yelled, "I'm right HERE! Mom's right HERE! You'll be right out in a minute! It's gonna get loud, but I'm right HERE!" I heard them scream for me. I heard them cry. I listened to them cry, and I'd never felt so helpless. I couldn't see what was happening, but I could hear metal grinding and the roar of the machines that must be deafening inside that metal box. I was having a "Mary Moment." Is this how she felt while her son was being crucified?
Lesson #4: What God taught me:
As I banged on the door it occurred to me that I am not the first to feel this way. Girls, every bit of my heart wants to be in that box with you. I want to protect you, and calm you and wrap my arms around you, but you're trapped in a big metal box. I would gladly trade places with you and be locked in that box FOR you, but all I can do right now is to stand above and tell you I'm here, and hope you keep listening for my voice, and that it brings you comfort. For a tiny moment, I felt connected to all of my ancestors who await my arrival in Heaven. They call to me that they are right there, and they are hoping that I find comfort in their presence: in God's Holy Presence, which they are a part of. This was certainly how Jesus felt, which inspired Him to be born of a woman so he could get on all of our elevators with us. This is how the Creator felt in all of the Old Testament stories where the choices of his people landed them in their own forms of captivity again and again.
This is the story of a parent loving her children, and wanting them to be free so they could be together.
It's my story of an elevator.
It's the story of everyone who has ever been held captive by addiction, or poor choices, or PTSD, or just the circumstances of life.
It's God's story of love.
So this is what the door looked like after the girls were freed from the elevator. It won't be functional again without a significant amount of help. Some metal boxes need to be broken to allow for a proper and timely escape. Their entire interment was a little over 2 hours. We enjoyed the biggest hug of their young lives at the top of that stairwell! There was SO MUCH REJOICING that they were free.
Thank you, Lord, for the lessons. Thank you CHWC Staff and Mike McDuffie. Thank you, camp coordinators, and the Groton Fire and Rescue, and Public Safety officers! Thank you FC and KDubs.