There are moments in our work when we simply don't know what to do. A child has repeatedly acted up. A teen's life is just falling apart. A group of kids are caught up in a never-ending cycle of animosity. My own reaction is as varied as the situations. Sometimes I am filled with compassion and able to minister in a wise effective way. But this is rare. Usually, I have good intentions, but have no accompanying actions to help in any way. Other times, I am so fed up with the problem that I even lose compassion. A few weeks ago, we began training our summer interns for Sonshine Daycamp. In the middle of that training, we headed out to Whitby for a day retreat where our Spiritual Director, Steve Chu, led us in a series of spiritual formation exercises. One of the passages we listened to was from Philippians 1: 9-10: "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ..." What struck me about this prayer is the coupling of love and knowledge. Often I am lacking one or the other. I am either full of love for the kids, with no idea how to help them, or I can see their problems, but I've grown numb to their situation. Paul prayed for the Philippians to have love AND knowledge. Having both is how we discern the best way, he says. This is why we spend most of our energy at TCM building relationships. Knowing kids and teens helps us to love them better.
But the beauty of this passage is that it's a prayer. There is no revelation without the Spirit. We can spend hours, days, even years on end with someone and never really know them. This passage is an apt reminder as we go into camp that these seven weeks are covered in a desperate prayer for revelation and a desperate prayer to be filled with love so that we can learn what is best - what is best for these kids, their families, and our communities.