The Gospel reading this past Sunday was about the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. I heard recently that for two-thousand years, theologians have gotten the story wrong. The modern interpretation is that the story is not about a miracle but about sharing. Supposedly, the Apostles asked the boy with the bread to share, and once he shared, everyone else decided to share, too. We’re now told that Jesus couldn’t really make five loaves and two fishes feed five-thousand people, and we should accept that this is just a nice story about the good side of humanity.
On Sunday, Father Michael gave us his own take on this story. He confirmed that it is about sharing, but not in the way that modernists believe. Jesus asked the Apostles where they could get food, and Andrew answered, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?”(John 6:9). Jesus told the Apostles to share the boy’s food with the crowd, and miraculously, they had their fill and then “collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat” (John 6: 13). Father told us that God was able to perform this wonderful miracle because one little boy was willing to share all that he had.
This week, I’m at Summer Roundup, the all-volunteer Girl Scout Camp that I have been running for fifteen years. It’s a week my three girls and I have looked forward to every year since my now married, attorney daughter was eight-years-old. Camp looks very different this year at half capacity with the mandated family cohorts and socially distanced dining hall, but it feels the same. It’s the same faces, the same girls who come back year after after, the same wonderful volunteers, and the same camp with its beautiful views and amazing amenities.
Sitting in church on Sunday, wearing my shorts and camp staff t-shirt, I realized what it is that makes this camp so special. Sure, the sunsets are spectacular, the campground is awesome, and the smiling faces on the girls warm my heart; but it’s the staff that really makes the difference. I call them my team, and they range in age from fourteen to seventy. They’re mostly females, but we have one incredibly awesome dad who is here every summer working hard to make each year better than the one before it. Nobody is paid. Nobody gets any recognition outside of this bubble for the time and effort they put forth. Nobody gains anything from being here, especially the few women with no children and the many twenty-somethings who have been coming since they were six or seven-years-old. It’s not what they get that keeps them coming back but what they give.
These volunteers plan elaborate programs; pay for certifications in archery, boating, lifeguarding, zip lining, and high ropes; spend hours slaving in a hot kitchen on a 95-degree day or walking girls back and forth between main camp and their wooded cabins; and take time off from work to give of themselves mind, body, and soul for one amazing week. They care, they nourish, they cheer, they cry. They give their all, never asking for anything in return. They lay down on wooden bunk beds with plastic mattresses after long days on their feet in the hot sun. They happily eat chicken nuggets, waffle sticks, and dirt cups with big smiles on their faces. They stay up that extra hour to tell stories to the little girl away from home from the first time who is crying for mom and dad.
Most of us did not know each other before we signed up for camp. We come from different backgrounds, incomes, and circumstances. Outside of camp, some of us have absolutely nothing in common, but for one week of the year, we are a family. We create memories with our bare hands and help grow little girls into great leaders. I’m guessing that in my fifteen-years as director and the twenty-three years that Summer Roundup ran before I joined, hundreds of girls have reclined on this grass and eaten at these tables.
I feel very blessed, every summer, to see God deliver this wonderful miracle because a group of one-time strangers are willing to share all that they have. God takes our humble offerings and feeds the multitude.
Be sure to catch me on one of these dates:
August 28 – Book signing – St. Mary’s Crab Festival in Leonardtown, Maryland 10:00AM-4:00PM
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019), A Devotional Alphabet (2019), Desert Fire, Mountain Rain(2020).