And when I saw him arriving at the Joni and Friends Camp - he was smiling back.
"CARE EE. You're here - it's good to see you!" With his labored steps affected by cerebral palsy, it took longer than usual for Jay to reach me. It did not however, affect the strength of his heart's affection for his favorite clown! His spastic arms embraced me wholeheartedly. His companion laughed, "Finally, he gets to see the person he talks about twice a week all year." I turned to his friend from Coventry (an artistic community for people affected by disability) with a suprised look on my face. "Yes, he really does talk about you all the time."
Whenever I would walk through the dining room, the chapel, or pass from one building to the next - if Jay was around, he was aroundme. "Charlynn, I like Playdo, do you think you can find some for me? When's CARE EE going to be around?"
As I would explain my schedule and my various "characters" appearances, Jay would just be staring at me, hanging on every word, waiting for his opportunity to speak and say, "you are my friend."
I confess, when I was in a hurry (from performance to performance) the shout of Jay "Wait up CARE EE " would pause my steps with a sense of bother. Jay's mother would come to coral her son and explain my hurried nature. Jay would counter ALL explainattions with his own answer, "But CARE EE is my friend." We would hug, he would release his grip and say, "See you later friend."
On the day of the Talent Show, each encounter with Jay brought out a big smile. "CARE EE, you're in for a big surprise tonight." Without question, the Family Retreat Talent Show does hold huge surprises. It is a night families cherish and the kids can't wait to show us their "stuff". We have wheelchair jumping, poetry reading, pianos tickled, and voices of angels couldn't sound any sweeter than those of our camp's children. They proudly take the stage and praise the God they know loves them.
It was Jay's turn at last. His friend (from Coventry) was going to "sign" while he sang. He kept looking over to the side of the stage where CARE EE was standing, distracted that I was not next to him. As he began to sing, he motioned me beside him. "CARE EE's my friend" he told the audience as he put his arm around me to steady himself.
I mostly looked right at Jay while he sang, but from the corners of my eyes I could see many in the audience crying openly. They couldn't see the tears of a clown, running down her white cheeks - I'm not sure Jay did either.
Because nothing was going to stop his serenade to his friend.
"Jesus, be my center, be my source, be my light .. Jesus."
His name starts with a "J" - and this week at camp I saw in my friend Jay glimpses of Him. Always quick to acknowledge I am in the room, ready to say hello, always wanting to stand right beside me and to tell everyone I am his "friend".
And when it came time to show off his talent - he wated to do it with me right by his side.
Somehow I know Jesus is doing the same.