Dear Mr. Camp Counselor,
I know he’s just another eight year-old boy to you. All in all, he looks pretty much like the others in your cabin. Brown hair, jeans that sag a bit in the rear, blue Donald Duck t-shirt, and sneakers (he won’t call them tennis shoes because he doesn’t wear them to play tennis–he’s practical like that). At first glance you think his eyes are brown, but look closer and you’ll see that they are really green, the only visible evidence of my fair Dutch contribution to his gene pool. Take time, Mr. Camp Counselor, to look into those eyes. You will see that they sparkle a bit with mischief and wonder today, that beautiful unspoiled wonder of firsts, his first day of summer camp. But today is bittersweet for me. Today he is not my baby anymore. Today he is big enough to be hundreds of miles away from home. I’m allowing this because I know he’s ready but I’m not sure I am.
“Wasn’t it just yesterday that the pregnancy test was positive?” I quietly think to myself. That beautiful but frightening plus sign stared at me that day as I fell to my knees, the heaviness of three miscarriages in two years still painfully fresh. “Whatever you have for me Lord”, escaped from my lips before I could think. This was a rare moment of complete submission to the One who authors the plan, the One knitting together this covenant child whose purpose is to glorify God whether I ever hold him in my arms or not. At 44 years old, I was the textbook definition of advanced maternal age and as a nurse, knew enough to caution my optimism. For months I walked that tight wire of optimism and caution, trust and fear, while praying everyday that this child would be just like his father. And God granted my heart’s desire.
My hearts desire will put on his Captain America pajamas and sleep tonight on the top bunk of Cabin One nestled down in the new alligator print sheets he chose for this big occasion. I hope he’s not too embarrassed that I had his towels monogrammed with his name. But I believe names are important. He is Seth, the name chosen by his father, the same name Adam gave his son after the tragic death of another, the son in whose line would come Jesus, our Redeemer, the promised Savior. It is a name of honor, of renewed hope.
If you look at them together, you can’t help but notice that he is the spitting image of his father. He has that big square head that every man in the Williamson clan has carried since before the Scottish revolution of 1688. He looks like him, walks like him, and thinks like him. He is smart like him. It is a beautiful visual reminder to me that I am made in the image of God my Father and am being conformed to the likeness of Christ everyday.
Bit by bit, I’m learning to let go of him, Mr. Camp Counselor. I may worry that he won’t brush his teeth or drink enough milk. I may worry that he will wear the same underwear for days and think showering is optional. I won’t worry about the big things, though. For I know who holds him, who numbered the hairs of his sweet head and orders his days. I know the One who loves him infinitely and perfectly. But I will miss him. I will miss him every second until he comes home in 13 days, 17 hours, and 23 minutes. And I will treasure this bittersweet moment as I leave him with you to begin chasing the life ordained for him.
So, when he’s learning to canoe, climbing the rock wall, or careening down the zip line, watch him for me. Tell him he’s doing a good job when he succeeds, and encourage him to try again when he fails. Make him wear sunscreen and write home once or twice. Oh, and there’s a special note from his father on the ledge next to his bunk. It contains one of the many blessings that Dad has prayed over him at night since the day this son was born. (Confession: I love to sneak and secretly watch this sacred ritual as my husband places his strong hand on that familiar head and speaks truth over him.) Seth can read the note, of course, but he doesn’t have to. He knows it by heart: “The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121:5-8. And He will.