summer of love 2019 — week 8

Have you ever had that moment? A chance to watch your child when they don’t realize they are being seen? I stood at the edge of Eleanor’s room, leaning against the doorframe. There she sat, singing softly with her packing list in hand, surrounded by all the things she’ll need for camp. Sleeping bag? Check. Sunscreen? Check. Favorite camp t-shirts? Check check check.

And while she was busy checking each item off the packing list, the most important things weren’t on the list at all. And she is taking them anyways.

Camp songs.

There are so many of them. Each with its own words and unique tune. But the most important thing about the songs is what they have in common—their purpose and pattern.

I sing a line. You repeat the line. I sing a new line. You repeat it. We sing another new one together.

It is the call and response of connection.

Do you hear me? I do. Do you really hear me? Yes. We’re here, together.

At camp it’s one of the fastest ways to build community. We sing. We match our voices. We synchronize our breathing. We call and we respond. We feel seen. And we feel heard. It shows us that we matter.

Call and response is woven deeply in our humanity. Think of the folk songs, the spirituals, the experience of singing with tens of thousands of others in an arena concert. It is how we create connection. It is how we say we are one.

The same singing happens at home.

Sometimes there is a tune, often it is spoken words. Our children say them clearly. Yet the noise of life, our focus on to-do lists and time crunches, make it easy for us to only half listen. We hear the words, and we miss the song.

But the singing is there.

What does it sound like?

Will you play with me? I need your help. Come see my picture. Just one more time.

What is being muffled? What is hard for us to hear? The tune underneath the words. The tune that sings—do you see me? Do you hear me? Do you love me? Do I matter?

So how can we sing back? What are our response lines?

Yes, sometimes we can put down what we are doing, walk away from the kitchen, the laundry, the email, the work, the rest of life and go to them.

But sometimes, we need those things to keep going. Sometimes we can’t stop.

But we can sing.

Will you play with me? I love being with you.  I need your help. I love being here for you. Come see my picture. I love the artist that you are. One more time. I love that we both have so much fun together.

A child sings a line. We sing back Yes. They sing a new line. We repeat Yes. You are loved. You matter.

We can stand at the sink, the washer, the computer and fully listen. We can be occupied by everyday things and sing back, loud and strong. We can be one place with our bodies and fully in that other place at our child’s side, connecting with our hearts. The melody is always there, waiting for us to choose to hear it, and then to sing along.

Call and response. The songs of summer. And our focus for week 8 of Summer of Love. Listen for their songs. Hear beneath the words. Sing back your love, and the enduring sense that they always matter.


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