The first came in the form of a friend's late-night Facebook post asking for prayers following a freak zip-line accident at a popular overnight camp. My friend had just hung up the phone with her 16-year-old daughter who is a counselor-in-training. The staff had just been informed that a 12-year-old camper passed away from injuries sustained that day when a zip-line failed. My heart broke for everyone.
- My friend's sweet daughter who has overcome so many of her own challenges this year and really needed nothing but happy from her happy place.
- My friend who has watched her daughter really struggle recently with some BIG issues and who now wonders what this tragedy could do to the delicate balance of her well-being.
- A long time church friend who is the camp's head counselor this summer. To imagine the weight of the world on this sweet recent college grad's shoulders seemed so unfair.
- And, of course, I felt physical pain and lifted up feverant prayers for the parents of this young girl gone too soon. Just imagining their feelings as I watched my own 12-year-old daughter collecting shells on the beach made my heart ache.
My heart that was so full of happiness by being near the ocean starts to question my own daughters' seaside limits as I pray for those teenagers and their families who have to figure out a whole new normal.
Today was our last day on the beach for this trip. It was perfect - almost glass-like water with rolling waves, low-tide during the best part of the day and enough of a breeze to keep the heat wave at bay. It was a great day to bob in the water and that's just what my girls did, all the way up to their shoulders. Of course I didn't pick up my phone or glance away from the ocean the entire time they were in the water. I was hyper-vigilant looking for fins or any other signs of danger. But, they were oblivious because I hadn't showed them the link to the story. Should I? Should I terrify my beach babies from going in the water, or should I continue to teach them to be aware of their surroundings and always on the lookout. After all, aren't we the visitors in the ocean?
I left my BFF on the lookout and took a paddle board out into the ocean. I was overwhelmed with the paradox of the perfect beauty of the waves and the sun and the breeze in contrast to the news pictures of severed limbs and bloody waters. I didn't dare stand up on the board, just hung out on my knees, because A) I have questionable balance in still water, so why risk it when there are waves and B) I did have a fear that was gripping me and I didn't want to fall in. I didn't want to know what was lurking underneath the still ocean water.
I could feel the fear rising up in my throat and my head started playing all the worst case scenarios of a day spent in the ocean. And then, just like that, a wave came out of no where and sent me crashing into the sea. I got my bearings, pulled myself up on the board and realized I was okay. Could something bad have happened? Oh yes - there could have been a jelly fish or a Portuguese Man of War waiting to sting me right under the surface, or a shark that felt threatened by my sudden arrival. But my fears weren't confirmed and I slowly felt myself relax and enjoy the blessing of paddling on a board in the middle of a beautiful ocean.
My big girls greeted me in the waist-high water when I came back. Each one wanted to go out on their own. Call me crazy, but I said yes. It was a great learning opportunity to talk with them about respecting the ocean and all the creatures in it. And there were the other subtle life lessons too. How sometimes you have to row against the waves to get where you want to go, how the hardest part of the journey is getting through the times when the waves crash right on your head and how once you get through the scary, frustrating part then the view and the ride is pretty darn spectacular.
I'll keep praying for zip-lines to stay untangled and sharks to stay away while I let my daughters innocently enjoy their summer.