Camp Disappointment

When I was 16, my parents loaded our Southwind Motorhome and headed west for vacation. My brother and I were allowed to ride along, but I considered of myself only as an ‘accessory.’ “Hey, get me a beer.” “We need wood for the fire.” “Empty the ‘holding tank.” (‘Holding tank’ was a euphemism for ‘s*** tank.’ Since someone has to empty it, might as well get the cheap labor to do it.) Along the route to Glacier National Park (Montana), my father shrewdly traded two cartons of Kool Menthol cigarettes with an Native American for a personal guided tour of the original ‘Camp Disappointment.’ Camp Disappointment was the northernmost point reached by the Lewis and Clark Expedition (July 23, 1806). Lewis referred to the campsite as ‘Camp Disappointment,’ for it meant the expedition was unable to reach 50 degrees north latitude, which would extend the Louisiana Territory. I viewed Camp Disappointment more pragmatically.

Just after cresting a small hill and we saw an endless, monstrous mountain range. I remember the moment as if it occurred yesterday. I could not help debating what Lewis thought? “F***ing J***s C****t! All this work. All this effort to get here and now, nothing but that (pointing the Rockies)?” Nature’s power, man’s smallness. Even now, as I think of the time remaining (before I leave), I think of Lewis and Clark, their adventure and what they did in the months and years they had left. History labels them as fairly self-assured. I, on the other hand, am not. 

A week ago, my therapist asked what I would do with my remaining time. Although I have no fantastic visual, I did write about it somewhat in Nuts and Lists. Reading those posts from two years ago, I duly note, “Damn, time went quick.” And even though I did a ton of preparatory work (paperwork, files, wills, real estate, car title, etc.), I wish I had more time. My body has really struggled these past few weeks.

In July 2019, Ms. Josie Rubio wrote, “I have been going through a lot of crap.” Like Rubio, I’ve been going through ‘crap’ too. All the while, I’ve stayed upbeat, but inside, I am envisioning the end. My body has become forever fatigued. Walking upstairs requires significant effort. In fact, walking is like moving marble pillars. Kneeling involves a heap of faith, as I am unsure if I can return upright. 

Not many people know how bad I am. I visited my mother several weeks ago and was afforded many opportunities to explain I was dying. I couldn’t get the words out. I felt like a pinball caught in the proverbial game, “damned if you and damned if don’t.” When is a good time to tell someone you’re dying? Does one come clean during morning coffee? Perhaps when making the afternoon ‘sun’ tea? Or should I spit it out while staring gazing? “Hey, mom? The Milky Way is beautiful tonight. Oh. By the way, I am dying?” Since no time felt right, my death remains a secret. 

Looking at me, many would say, “Well, you don’t look sick.” And it’s true. I don’t. Inside though, the internal gears are on a slow grind. I have never wallowed in self-pity. It’s not that I’ve denied self-pity its existence, it’s just an emotion I’ve never truly felt for myself. I simply choose to get up and move onward. In such moments, when feeling a lack of energy, I remind myself to breathe God’s faith.

I think God is a collector of miseries. No one is beyond God’s care. Even though I returned to God like the ‘prodigal son,’ Everyday, I continue to return in faith. I understand God loves more than imagined. But does God know when I fail? Does God know when I cannot tarry an hour, and exhaustion overwhelms, and I fall asleep. He also knows of my days when rather than chasing God, I chased things of this world. Yet, God came and found me, as did Kanako.

I once wrote Kanako had the heart of hope and never left the slightest thought unfilled. Just like Christ, I learned ‘love is sacrificial, love is ferocious.’ Jesus did not say, “Clean yourself. Get your life on track, and then we’ll discuss My love.” Instead, time and again, both Kanako and He came for me and returned me home. And it is there in those simple moments that the richness of His affection fulfills me. 

And even during my most profound acknowledgment that I am at the crossroads of my own personal ‘Camp Disappointment’ (meaning death is on the horizon), I remain humble. I vow to keep moving, both in power and purpose.

 



Categories: Faith & Doubt, Life Lessons

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