“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
Yesterday was my sixth wedding anniversary.
Jonathan and I were married at Grace Church in Providence, and held our reception at ECC in the Pavillion. We made a weekend out of it, because what could be more fun than a weekend with all of our friends and loved ones at camp? Besides, May is just about the most beautiful time of year at the Episcopal Conference Center. Just look:
At least, that’s what it looks like in May sometimes.
Sometimes it’s overcast and dark gray. Sometimes it rains and the temperature drops so drastically that it still feels like February, and as fast as you’ve pulled on your t-shirts and flip flops you are running for your heavy sweatshirts and thick socks.
My wedding day was more like the latter. I had hoped it would be a weekend like the picture above – picturesque and green and lovely. But no. May 19th, 2007 (and really the whole weekend) provided temperatures just above freezing and a constant, spitting rain that occasionally increased to a steady pour. My poor friends from Virginia had to leave the airport after their arrival and go straight to Target to buy warmer clothes and Joyce almost sold out of camp sweatshirts that weekend. Lance had to go to Home Depot the morning of the wedding to buy a thick plastic to wrap around the Pavilion so that the heat from the grill would warm up the space, making it tolerable for the 200 plus people who had agreed to spend the day celebrating with us.
It was not ideal.
Last year the weekend of our Open House at ECC was pure perfection. In fact, that’s when the above picture was taken. When I walked outside on the morning of May 19th I was struck dumb by the sheer beauty of the property, the bright shining sun, and the warm gentle air. In my head I knew it was my anniversary, but psychologically I couldn’t make the jump. It was just too beautiful.
Yesterday also started out that way – bright sun and clear skies – and I found myself thinking, once again, “well it didn’t look like this on my May 19th!” That said, I was grateful for the great weather. Once again, I was expecting over 200 guests at ECC that afternoon, and sunshine makes for better tours of the property.
And then suddenly the memory of my wedding day started to be much more clear.
As if on cue, right at 3pm when our gates were open and cars started to trickle in, so did the rain. And all of my counselors, sporting their short sleeved staff shirts started shivering and looking at me hopefully asking if it was ok if they pulled on a sweatshirt. Umbrellas popped open as groups of folks huddled together for camp tours, and most of our guests opted for arts and crafts under the Pavilion instead of games on the field. Again, there weren’t enough sweatshirts in the store to keep our folks warm. We ran out almost immediately. (Side note: more have been ordered and should arrive right as the temperatures are consistently above 80 degrees.)
I admit to being a little disappointed. I think I had more stock in nice weather yesterday than I did on my wedding day. I love showing off our beautiful camp on a sunny day. But the sun was long gone, the rain had settled in, and the temperature was dropping. I ran some umbrellas out to the two young men who were on parking lot duty, and instructed them to usher our guests to the tents with the golf umbrellas, one blue and white and the other rainbow colored. Then I walked away to tend to other things.
When I came back to the parking lot area a little while later I checked in with my team under the welcome tent. They were looking into the parking lot and laughing. ”Look,” they said to me, pointing, “Caleb and Justin have been out there dancing and swinging the umbrellas.”
Sure enough, there were my 17 year old Jr. Counselors, spinning in circles in the parking lot, kicking up their heels, turning towards the welcome tent and smiling widely. When a car would pull in they would wave their umbrellas and leap over puddles with finesse to reach the people in the car. They were ridiculous. And they were hysterical.
I turned to look towards the road and saw that yet another set of my counselors – the ones stationed at the entrance to wave cars into the property – were also being terrific sports about their assignments. They shared their umbrella, but were also spinning and jumping and dancing, enthusiastically waving and welcoming the cars that drove by, whether or not the cars were pulling into our driveway.
I couldn’t help but laugh, and my shoulders loosened some. Leave it to my staff to remind me that our Open House wasn’t about how pretty the property looked, and whether or not the sun was shining. Our Open House is about showing people our spirit, our joy, and our community at ECC. They showed that so clearly – all the staff did – as they danced in the parking lot, laughed through the tours, and played sports in the field while the rain soaked their shirts.
I found myself remembering my wedding day again. Despite the weather, it was one of the most fabulous parties I have ever attended. We pulled on our sweatshirts and sneakers and we danced, and danced, and danced. I’ve had countless friends reminisce about what a great time we had, remembering the joy and laughter and fun we shared dancing in the plastic-covered pavilion under the cold, dark skies. I have to credit ECC with some of the fun. I think that same joyful spirit was there even though it wasn’t a camp event. And I think Jonathan and I – both products of ECC ourselves – had learned over and over again how to shrug off bad weather and party on.
We had a wonderful Open House yesterday. New friends and old joined us for tours, games, a Pentecost Eucharist, and a cook out. I can think of no better way to have spent my anniversary than back at the place I love so dearly, surrounded by a joyful community that knows how to dance in the rain.
May 19th, 2013: