One of my favorite canine movie characters of all time is Doug, the talking dog from Disney’s Up (aka the movie with the adorable old man who ties a bunch of balloons to his house, and it floats all the way to South America).
Here’s the thing about Doug. He’s VERY easily distracted in that ANYTIME he sees a squirrel, he’ll immediately turn his head to it and scream, “SQUIRREL!”
You could say in my life — particularly in my faith life — I’m a lot like Doug. No, I don’t have a squirrel obsession, yet, like Doug, I love my Master (Jesus), but when things come up, I often get very distracted from that reality.
Last spring, I was sitting in econ, which was the bane of my existence, stressing over the usual: how deathly that class was, how I needed more college scholarships, how I didn’t have a prom date yet, how I needed more likes on my last Insta, how I didn’t think my stomach could hold out a class period and a half before lunch, and plenty of other dramatics.
And it was then that I felt Jesus telling me I needed a break from the outside world — to go somewhere as a sort of escape from all these distractions pulling me down. And I knew right where I needed to go, Camp Covecrest.
But there were a few problems in my way: my youth group wasn’t taking a group this year, my parents didn’t want me to add anything else to my Summer schedule, I needed to be saving money for college, and the list goes on. But with God, the seemingly impossible can become possible if it’s His Will, and in the middle of June, I found myself on a bus (crashing another youth group) heading to Tiger, Georgia.
Now, Camp Covecrest isn’t like just any camp. It’s something you’ll have to experience to truly understand, but being there is like being in a different world — a world focused on God, and it’s wonderful. It’s doing a full-out obstacle course and offering up your efforts to God. It’s playing ultimate frisbee on the lawn with seminarians, nuns, and priests. It’s splashing around in a breathtakingly beautiful waterfall while scream-praying with other campers. And so many other activities.
The sacraments are so rich (as always) but so present and accessible. Mass is daily and has the rare occasion of 200+ people under 75 at a daily Mass. Adoration happens on multiple occasions, which is pretty much the best thing ever along with Mass. And Reconciliation is available just about whenever you want to go. Forgiveness is at every turn.
I remember I was chilling in an eno when a priest walked by, and I not-so-subtly pointed at him, screaming, “PRIEST!” and after he calmed down from alarm (apparently, that’s not how most people ask for Confession), he administered the sacrament to me right there in the middle of God’s beautiful creation.
And it was in adoration on the last night that I realized what had taken me so long to understand. As I delighted in the True Presence of my God, I realized that nothing — absolutely nothing — compared to Him.
No, it wasn’t just that He was better than all, but it was that nothing even came close to comparing to Him. Why had I been letting myself get so distracted by the things in the world when the God of the universe and the Love of my Life was and is always there, calling me closer to Himself? It was then that I realized the extent of the truth in St. Augustine’s words when he said, “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”
I was restless because it wasn’t enough to just love Jesus, I had to let my heart rest in Him. I had to trust in Him, and He would take care of everything.
Taking this new perspective back into the real world has made all the difference in my life. Do I still get stressed and distracted at times? Of course. But Jesus is constantly reminding me of the truth I learned this past summer, and I know to run to His loving arms for He has never let me down and never will.