When I was in late elementary school and middle school, I spent four summers, a week each, at an all-girls’ Catholic camp. At the time, I had no idea what an impact these four weeks out of my entire life would have on just that- my entire life.
First of all, this camp is where I met Vivaz (and, indirectly, met Jeavoi). Vivaz and I got placed in the same cabin my third year at camp, and somehow, we just hit it off. Eventually I got to know Jeavoi when Vivaz left to live in Spain for two months a few summers later, and we didn’t want our novel to die during that time: enter Jeavoi. Anyway, the rest is history because the three of us are the best of friends.
But by going to this camp as a scared little almost-sixth grader, I gained much more than two lifelong friends (which in it of itself is plenty). It wasn’t until a few years later, actually, that I really realized what I had gained. As I went through the Confirmation process my junior year of high school, I realized how much my faith had grown at Camp and had been shaped there. And for that reason, when it came to choosing my Confirmation name, I took the name “Kateri” from Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, who was canonized in 2012, the same year that I was confirmed. Here is an article about her if you are interested in reading more: http://conservation.catholic.org/kateri.htm. She was considered the patrons saint of our camp.
So, when it came time for me to choose a name, I thought about what saints I felt a connection to, so much so that I’d take her name as my own in the process of Confirmation. For awhile, I thought of taking the name “Cecilia” for St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music, given that music is a very strong force in my life. But oddly enough, that didn’t feel quite right to me. I don’t know exactly what pointed me in the right direction- I suppose it was probably the work of the Spirit and the grace of God- but somehow, I was reminded of those days at Camp and how they forever influenced me to be a better disciple of Christ. At that point, there was no other hand, “Kateri” was just meant to be.
I feel it necessary to mention that I also considered taking the name “Teresa” for Blessed Mother Teresa who receives my utmost admiration for her faith and deeds. Again, this name was not taken because it did not feel as right or seem to fit as well as that of “Kateri.” However, I have not dispersed with the name “Teresa” forever. I don’t know exactly when this idea came to my mind, but for several years now, I’ve had the intention of naming a daughter (if it is God’s will to grant me one) “Kateri Teresa” after these two great women of faith. Since the conception of this idea, I have hardly wavered and highly doubt that I will unless I am not given a daughter to bestow the name upon.
There is one more instance I care to mention about Camp that I feel has forever changed me for the better. I distinctly remember sitting during Communion at daily Mass, and finding myself zoned out and disconnected from the outside world. My vision shifted to an odd combination of seeing but not seeing- the closest I can describe is what actors refer to as “soft focus,” but even then, the actor is more aware of his surroundings than I was in that instant. It came to me then that maybe my place in the world was not to get married, but to still have a family. That maybe I was meant to have an “unconventional” family- that is, without a husband- comprised of myself and those whom I adopt. These thoughts came to me as I sat there, almost in a sort of trance, the sound of everyone around me, singing the Communion hymn, completely blocked out. It was as if a voice in the back of my mind brought those thoughts to the forefront.
Since that day, I’ve rather disposed with the idea that there is not a man on this earth that God intends to be my partner, and I his. I supposed it is possible that there is not, but I feel that it is much more likely that I just haven’t met him yet (How many of you just started singing that Michael Bublé song? ;)). Regardless, I trust that whatever God has in store for me- husband or no husband- His plan is great. But I have not disposed with the idea of adopting children into my family. Since then I have known that adoption is something that I both want and need to do. I just feel it as part of my calling in life.
And I have to say that all of these things came to be through the grace and will of God and through those four tiny weeks at Camp that, as I have just shown you, had all the impact on the rest of my life (which I was of course fairly oblivious to at the time). I’m sure you all have some experiences like that- ones that at the time seem like they won’t really change the whole course of your life, but then suddenly they do.
And if all this deep stuff about friendship and life and adoption wasn’t enough, well, at least I learned how to spell “Tekakwitha!”