It’s been a great and tragic summer.
I was at the camp I love, had a few family vacations and got a much needed break from Juvie.
But, then I lost a dear friend. His passing shattered my heart to one million pieces and had a deep effect on me, on my thoughts about home, life and more.
Then, another close friend had a stroke. He, thank God is okay, but he is facing a long hard road to recovery where he will need support, love, and much patience.
That, too, had a profound effect on me. What would I do if that happened to me?
All I could think about is that I would want to be back in Israel, because, there are no better caregivers than my sisters.
My oldest, who in a heartbeat would arrange and command every doctor and appointment necessary, and then my other sister, who is the Internet maven, would research everything connected to anything that happened to me.
Together they are the dream team and, actually, how fortunate I am that I know ,they would be on the first plane to the US if, God forbid, I needed them.
But, alas, both events with my close friends made me feel a little lonely and triggered many existential thoughts about friendships, family, commitment and the choices I have made in the last few years.
Today I came back to Juvie, after a break.
Last year I had an assistant, then I had a few volunteers, and then I had my ever-present film crew following me.
But today I was by myself.
It was a little weird. I was not lonely, but felt a little alone.
I have 18 girls in my group. Word has gotten around and they want to be part of my program. They ask or even beg now to be in the group. I am amazed and gratified.
Somehow there seems to be some karmic balance. After a challenging group, I tend to have an easier group.
This group was well behaved, quiet and attentive.
We had a good start even though I know their “crazy” will come out, but today was good.
I perform my show for them, and I tell them the show originated in Israel.
“Do you know where Israel is?” I ask.
“Yeah. Yeah. That’s where God lives.”
A few girls say that, one after the other.
I am a little shocked, almost speechless.
I smile, ”Wow,” I say.
“Well, yes, Israel is a very spiritual place, and there is a strong presence of God, but I really think that God lives everywhere.”
Not wanting to be too preachy or messianic, I say,
“I think it is more about faith. God lives where there is faith. God is inside each one of us.”
Okay, I think to myself, stop, because you are entering really dangerous territory!
“Wait,“ one girl says, “You mean, if God lives inside me, he’s here at Camp Scudder?”
“Yup,” I say.
“That is so fucked up.” She laughs.
“No,” I say.
“That is faith. You are never alone if you have faith.“
I think about what I just said. It sounded a little over the top to me.
But, truthfully, I believe in the work I do with all my heart. That faith fills me every week, and makes me come back even if I don’t really want to.
I look at these girls who still hold their mask tight, and I know their beauty waits to be found.
It was great to have company last year and very soon I will find a few interns. Volunteers will come in and out and I will hire an assistant, but today?
It was just me, alone.
It was me.
And the girls.
And my faith in the possibility of change.
“You gonna come every Thursday, Ms.?” one asks.
“Yup,” I say.
“Unless I am traveling, and I’ll always tell you the week before if I am going away.“
“Well, I guess from now on Thursdays I will not be alone,” she says.
“No you will not.” I say, “and neither will I!”
She looks at me with deep brown eyes.
“Can I hug you?”
“I’d love that!” and we embrace ,a long and deep hug.
I hold back my tears, because, frankly, it is way too early for the tears.
“This is good,” she says.
“No,” I say. “It’s great!”
“Need help collecting your stuff?” she offers.
“No,” I answer.
“I can gather it today by myself. “
She runs off, and I collect my things.
Alone, happy, with a full, very un-lonely heart.