Friday, March 30, 2007

Jesus Starts with a "J"

His face always makes me smile.

And when I saw him arrive at the Joni and Friends Family Retreat camp - he was smiling back. “CARE EE, you’re here – it’s good to see you!” It took time for Jay to reach me with his labored steps affected by cerebral palsy. It did not however, affect the strength of his heart’s affection for his favorite clown! His convulsive arms embraced me wholeheartedly.

Whenever I would walk through the dining room, the chapel, or pass from one building to the next – if Jay was around, he was around me. “Charlynn, I like Playdo, do you think you can find some for me? When’s CARE EE going to be around?” I would explain my schedule and various “characters” appearances, Jay would just be staring at me, hanging on every word, waiting for his opportunity to say, “You’re my friend.”

I confess, when I was in a hurry (from performance to performance) Jay’s shout “Wait up CARE EE” would pause my steps with a sense of impatience. Jay’s mother would come to corral her son and try and to explain to him my rush. Jay would counter ALL explanations with his own answer, “But CARE EE is my friend.” We would hug, he would release his grip and say, “See you later friend.”

On the day of the talent show, each encounter with Jay brought out a big smile. “CARE EE, you’re in for a big surprise tonight.” Without question, the Family Retreat talent show does hold huge surprises. It is a night families cherish and the kids can’t wait to show us their “stuff”. We have wheelchair jumping, poetry reading, pianos tickled, and voices of angels couldn’t sound any sweeter than those of our camp’s children. They proudly take the stage and praise the God they know loves them.

It was Jay’s turn at last. He kept looking over to the side of the stage where CARE EE was standing, distracted that I was not next to him. As he began to sing, he motioned me beside him. “CARE EE’s my friend” he told the audience as he put his arm around me to steady himself. I mostly looked right at Jay while he sang, but from the corners of my eyes I could see many in the audience crying openly. They couldn’t see the tears of a clown, running down her white cheeks – I’m not sure Jay did either – because nothing was going to stop his serenade to his friend.

“Jesus, be my center, be my source, be my light… Jesus.”

Jesus. His name starts with a “J” – and this week at camp I saw in my friend Jay glimpses of Him: always quick to acknowledge I am in the room, ready to say hello, always wanting to stand right beside me and to tell everyone I am his “friend”. And when it came time to show off his talent – he wanted to do it with me right by his side.

Somehow I know Jesus is doing the same!