Photos by Tori Bennett
For our American friends, let me explain that Boxing Day is a Canadian holiday; it’s the day after Christmas. I assume it got its name because it’s the day you box up all the Christmas decorations. For me, Boxing Day has always been a little melancholy.
For weeks, as a child, I anticipated Christmas with daydreams about what would be under the tree — the gifts would be piled high, relatives would visit and we’d eat like kings. But then Christmas would come and go and it would be Boxing Day, signaling the end of the delicious anticipation. We’d have to pack up the decorations, eat stale shortbread and wait almost a whole year for next Christmas.
That’s how I feel right now.
The first few days after we left camp for the summer, I was still on an adrenaline high from the stress of packing for our 40-hour road trip to Cali and the memories of wonderful and transcendent things God did this summer. Also I was exhausted and really looking forward to the five of us being together as a family again.
But yesterday the realization set in: It’s over. For a whole year. The summer is done.
I think of the months of anticipating the summer. I couldn’t wait to visit family in Bracebridge and Ottawa and friends in Guelph. And as for camp, I imagined dreamy worship, sweet sisterhood, giddy program moments and breathtaking beauty in people and creation.
There’s just something about that place. People get healed, inside and out. The Holy Spirit loves to come and play. I always imagine Jesus in torn jeans, an old T-shirt and Birkenstocks, traipsing about Girls’ Camp smiling at the beater-boarders, laughing during campfires and Late Shows, sitting beside the crafters, chuckling at the zaniness of wide games, holding hurting girls in his arms.
This summer, I saw bodies healed, souls restored and spirits awakened through the power and presence of God in community. I saw eyes light up as people heard the still, small voice of God for the first time. I saw girls from broken families find hope as they fell in love with Jesus. I saw young women who had experienced sad and terrible things discover joy in the presence of the Holy Spirit. I saw girls who had loved and served Jesus for years grow in identity and anointing and passion for Christ.
I felt the Father rejoice over deepening intimacy with Him and each other.
Then there were the funny moments, the times I doubled over because of the wackiness of the jokes and the antics and the made-up songs. So much joy.
I wish I wrote down more of those moments in my journal. I wish I had taken more pictures. Even now, the memories are fading.
There’s nothing like it. It is like Heaven on earth. And it’s grueling, exhausting and surreal at times.
Although the summer being over feels like Boxing Day, soon it will be New Year’s. Soon we’ll be in Redding for the start of a new year of school. There’s much more of God’s presence and power to look forward to, as well as fun family times and parties with friends from all over the world. God's mercies and blessings are new every morning. He has more than I can ask or imagine in store. He always fills my hands with more blessings than I can hold.
But for now, I will mourn the passing of another wondrous summer.