Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Now We See Through the Bead Darkly

This past weekend I went back to Trefoil ranch, a camping area run by the Girl Scouts, for an adult training in preparation for their Camporee next summer.  I don't want to miss it, and I don't want Abigail to miss it since they will be celebrating 100 years of Girl Scouts.  Lots of cookie sales over the last 30 years have improved the Trefoil camp property considerably.  When I went there as a young girl, the main hall was a log cabin, one main room, dark, and poorly lit dealie-O.  Now it is more akin to a Swiss Chalet.  But it was here that I learned one of the most poignant lessons of my youth: sometimes the bad things that happen to you in life can turn out to be pretty valuable.

When I first arrived at Trefoil, I was about 8 years old.  I went with my Girl Scout troop to my first sleepover camp.  In order to break up girls from the various troops and help them to get to know other girls, they had a system the first day you arrived of shuffling you into the log cabin to register you and handing you an identifying bracelet. 
  Since we all arrived at nearly the same time, we all had a long time to hear the opening spiel, and kinda go through a bottleneck process of checking in, and getting a bracelet, while also learning a knot-tying skill.  It was a long line. 
      We got to get a good look at the beads that went on the bracelets.  Though not spoken, every girl knew that the success or failure of her entire camp rested in those little trays.  You had time to casually look up and down the line of registering scouts and secretly hoped that the girl sucking her thumb with one hand and clutching a ratty stuffed dog while desperately clinging with the other hand, white knuckled, to her mom with the other, did NOT end up in your group.  Those kids were no fun and often slowed everything down. I never could understand kids that had to be persuaded to have fun. "Won't you come play?  Tell us your name?" Gah!  Go home wimp!
   Anyway, I broke my gaze from checking out the line to check out the bead trays.  They looked like so many gems sparkling.   There were ones that looked like diamonds, pink ones, light blues ones and ... what I hoped to get, a yellow bead. Because yellow is my favorite color, and if you can score your favorite color, well then the world can go on! But I'd settle for a diamond one and still be happy.  Diamonds are the most valuable.
   Somewhere in there was a tray of black beads.  Every girl in that line knew that you did NOT want to get saddled with the black bead.  It was Uh-uh-uuuuuugLY!  Yet as I started to count the girls in line, and pair it up with the bead rotation, I could see that I was headed straight for that black bead. Oh no. OH NONONONONOooooo!!! My survival skillz started kicking in.
     Unfortunately for me, so did the girl's behind me, as I casually asked, "Hey, you wanna go ahead of me?"  "Uh NOOooooOO!" It was that snotty, sarcastic "no" that says, "Na ah girl, I ain't takin' no black bead for you..."  Then we hit the first station. 
"Hi, I'm Katydid! Who are you?" (checks me of on the roster)  "Welcome!  You need to think of a camp name and get your camp bracelet.  Here is your gold bracelet string, don't lose it.  Next you'll get your bead from Raven, learn to tie a square knot from Kanga, and then be sorted into your groups!"
    I held my string and walked like I was on Death Row to the bead table where Raven was waiting for me with the black bead already in her hand.  It took all my nerve, but I asked, "Can I have a yellow one?"  Her look was IMMEDIATE exasperation.  "Why is everyone trying to get out of this one?  I like it the best!"  I gave her a look that must have said, "Well then YOU wear it!" because she plopped it in my hand in a way that said, "Here you go and don't argue about it."  I took my black bead, with such dread, over to the knot tying station where other girls were showing off their sparkly beads.  "I got a diamond one!" WHOOPIE for you.  But I couldn't argue that scoring the clear diamond bead was awesome, and therefore she must be awesome.  Her friend crowed, "I got a yellow one!  I LOVE yellow!" I decided then and there that I hated that girl.
    Still waiting to learn to tie my knot, I tried to discern if there was anyone waiting with me who was unhappy with their bead choice, and found one scout complaining about the light blue bead she got - which, though NOT yellow, would at least be an upgrade from black. "I wanted PINK!" she boobed.   I saddled up to her and said in a very cheerful and HELPFUL way,  "Hey!  I'll trade you!"  She perked up, until she saw what I had.  "Uh, no, that's okay...." I decided that I would hate her too.  Meanie. 
  Minutes later, I had a black bead tied securely on my wrist.  Kids don't really swear to themselves in their head, they just feel rotten.  And I did.  We were supposed to go outside and stand by our camping gear.  I knew that camp was a failure.  I was going to have a rotten time, get the rotten kids in my group, and have to wear a rotten rotten ugly bead.
    Then things suddenly changed.  I don't exactly remember where I saw it, but I know that it stopped me in my tracks.  In the sunlight, and out of that musty old registration cabin, I discovered that I didn't have a black bead after all.  It was dark PURPLE.  And the purple lacquer bead next to the gold elastic band was stunning.  It was gorgeous, and definitely enviable, because suddenly the other girls were noticing it too.
      The beads that had looked sparkly in the dark looked a lot more like cheap plastic in the light.  Little Miss Light Blue Bead came up to me, "Hey... still wanna trade?" "Uh, that's okay...." I said, trying not to let her know that I had decided to hate her, and it served her right for not trading with me in the first place.  As she jealously looked on, I let my dark purple bead twinkle in the sunlight so you could see all of the light and dark colors.  And my dread absolutely evaporated.  What was once dreaded was now coveted.  I HAD THE COOLEST BRACELET CAMP TREFOIL COULD OFFER! And it was mineminemine!!! Camp was wonderful again. 
     Flash forward about 30 years.  Now I have four kids.  Even as we speak, they are driving me up THE WALL.  In the 5 minutes that they were up, and I was mustering the will to face another day of laundry, dishes, dinner and poopy diapers, my quilt project was flung around the house, a whole container of chocolate chips was dumped on the floor, and I can smell the diaper that needs to be changed.  It will wait for me.  For me, these are stressful, dark days.  It is hard.  It is tedious.  There are more messers than cleaners.  Hubby is waist deep in his career, and at the end of the day, after dinner, prayers, pajamas and stories, we are pretty well spent. It is the bottle neck of a young family. It doesn't seem like it will ever end. And the creativity of our children that is expressed on walls, chopped up clothes, pulled pork on the ceiling, and animals made out of straws has made other parents grateful that they got the children they have. And sometimes I envy them.  "Look!  They don't sass; they just do what their mom says!  I'd heard of these rare children, but I'd never seen one.  And they have FIVE!"
  Girl Scouts has taught me though, that if you wait a bit, and take things out into the sun, that those things that seemed dark will have a deep luster that will make them the envy of all. Paul told us as much when he wrote to the Corinthians (Ch 13):
 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

I didn't know then, how much I would need that lesson in my life.  I don't hate people so easily, and when I am handed dark beads in my life, I try to imagine what they will look like in the light, and what I will be at that point, as a person.  So, it is on to another day of faith, hope and charity.  Faith that it will be worth it, hope that things will work out, and charity for my family... whom I love.  Even though they drive me up the wall.  And no, I don't want to trade with you.  It may not seem like it right now, but I got the best there is, and they're minemine mine! :D


Danika said...

How come you always write exactly what I need to hear? Thanks for the reminder! I definitely needed it on this last day of a very LONG fall break! :)

Katrina said...

Oh girlie - I'm so glad. My fall break starts on Thursday... pray for me... :D

Danika said...

Love, love, LOVE this post!!! I'll take my black bead and be in your group :)

Annette said...

Loved this! It's something we all need to learn through out our lives over and over again. I have heard it that we are weaving a blanket and it wont be until we see the end of our lives and turn our blanket over the pattern and gold woven through out. Hang in there and LOVE! It's worth it in the end!

Cyndie said...


Question: do you have a favorite crock pot cookbook?

Reggs said...

Definitely bookmarking this one for repeat reading! Thank you for the uplifting thought. :)