"It only takes a spark
to get a fire going,
and soon all those around
will warm up to its glowing."
It's a song we sing to celebrate the love of God, but, for me, it's also about celebrating the warmth we find within one another. The friendships we form and cultivate. The knowledge and guidance we provide to one another. That's what camp does -- more than any other place in the world. The light we find in each other, even those of us who may be old friends, grows within us and begins to change us. And it burns so brightly we feel as though the darkness may never creep up upon us again.
But it does. It always does. And it threatens to snuff out our joy, our hope, our light.
Last night, one of my camp family, Matt, was killed in a car wreck. This morning, one of my most precious and joyous friends, Jarrett, called to tell me. The pain in his voice and in his tears, the confusion and loss, cracked my chest open with grief.
Matt was a wonderful young man, and in the short summer that I knew him, I found him to be quick to smile but long on patience. He always seemed to be just off to the side, watching first, but wherever he appeared, he brought a calm and a peace to the situation. He had a quiet air and a quick wit, and to sit next to him at dinner was the prime spot to catch one of his quick jokes. As his supervisor, I cannot say I knew him well, but I know that he was well-loved by his friends and well-respected by his peers. And if you were to know them, you'd know what a fine compliment that is.
All day, I have grieved and worried. I have felt that darkness, so familiar an old friend, scratching at the door of my heart. When I heard Jarrett's voice on the phone, I felt my light flutter, and I worried. I worried about how these kids -- my kids -- will mourn Matt, the toll that grief exacts on people so young. How the unfairness of a life gone so quickly, so abruptly, can burn a hole in your spirit and rage uncontrollably. I worried -- I worry -- that it will engulf them.
I thought about Matt all day, and I thought about those closest to him. The more I thought about him, the less I cried. I even began to smile as the sun set before me. Because while he is gone, he will not be forgotten. The light of Matt, that spark I saw 2 summers ago, won't be snuffed out. It can't be because it burns on within each of us that had the privilege to know him. And it burns strongest in those who loved him best.
The SFA crew -- AJ, Matt, Jarrett, and Destiny
Matt, at home on the range.
And they're not the type to let it flicker out. They will pass it along -- sharing his smile, honoring his life. I know this much to be true.
This one's for you Matt, and for all those who loved you, from the very first week you were a part of our camp family. Thank you for your spark.