The Surreal Camping Experience: What the Skies Can Tell Us

We occasionally have those experiences that seem so unreal that they would be found in a movie. You know those stories someone tells you where you think “yeah, sure, come on…” but your friend insists she is telling the truth.  Well I had one of those the other week.  My kids and I were at a family camp weekend with our church.  I struggled to go on the front end – not because I didn’t want to go, but it was just so much – so much to do to get prepared physically and the mental anguish involved: the ultimate sadness of engaging in these activities without my husband at my side, the reminders of death, unfairness, of being alone.  But the three of us went – my 8 year old son, my 5 year old daughter and me.  It was the right thing to do and the kids were excited.  When we arrived that Friday evening, it was raining cats and dogs, it was dark, the drive was longer than anticipated, and again, I was thinking I made a mistake.

But as with most things, once you start, it is fine and often times, it is good. The next day brought sunshine, kids playing and laughing, and things felt right.  But the skies decided to again get cloudy.  The timing was just fine as it was mandatory rest time for all campers.  My kids went scampering off with friends and I was left alone to return to our cabin.  I pulled out the chair and sat on the front porch admiring the scenery.  Our cabin was on the water, there was green grass and trees all around, and I could hear seagulls in the background.  And so I sat.  The longer I sat and watched, the more I could see – including a man standing on the dock.  He wore a blue rain jacket with a hood and he was alone.  I thought that was odd given that I was the only single parent there and most adults were with spouses, buddies, or children.

As the clouds continued to roll in a haze fell in the backdrop of the dock. Now I could see the man even more clearly.  I couldn’t figure out what he was doing.  It didn’t look like anything.  There was no one else around – rain was inevitable and everyone was indoors.  Who was he?  The logical part of me said it was a counselor or someone working at the camp, but the longing part of me wanted it to be Jim.  Looking away from the man at this time, I saw an amazing site.  On the right side of the dock all across the water, the sky and landscape was completely covered with hazy rain.  I couldn’t make out the hills, the buildings or anything else.  It was a blanket of dew.  To the left of the dock, the sky was still visible and the imagery intact.  The rain hadn’t gotten that far yet.

Two things struck me:

  1. How much more detail I could make out with the haze in place. My attention was directed to the one object I could still see – the man. I could really see him now. I waited for “Jim” to turn around, wave to me, and smile.
  2. How one perspective (mine) could have both cloudy, hazy dreary on one side and clear, bright on the other. Both are possible at once, which has been my existence for the past many years. There is good present always, even in the sadness.

As I continued to watch the man and the sky, the haze and rain moved across the water. It covered the man eventually, and as the right side of the dock cleared and the left became hazed, things changed once again.  As the rain moved on, so too did the man.  My “Jim” was gone when the sun returned to the dock, but I appreciated his reminder to see the clear through the haze.


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Melinda Corbin on October 1, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Hi Erica,

    Tremendous words and depiction of what to many would be an ordinary camping trip. You have away of pulling out a moment and making it come alive and be it’s own thing. I hope you’re days are getting somewhat easier to get through… will take time for sure.

    Take good care,


  2. Thanks Melinda. That does mean a lot to me.


  3. Posted by Debbie Lossia Venezia on October 1, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Erica- I think about you and your children( who are close in age to mine) all the time. Your words are so powerful and I believe that “your Jim” is now your angel watching over you all, present in many ways.
    You are amazing!

    With Love,



  4. Posted by Peggy on October 6, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Erica —
    I am just now reading this post and I am envisioning what you write about so clearly, thanks to your uncanny ability to share your emotions in such a personal way. Thank you so much for sharing this moment. I am so glad that you went on that trip. I think about Jim and your family so often — I hope that you keep posting on the caringbridge site and also here. Hugs to you all,


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