Father Brian and I continued to work on the garden for the next hour. It really was like a session of therapy for us both. Topics were wide ranging. We discussed: escaped campers; various causes of deep vein thrombosis; disciplining teenagers; pulmonary emboli; is it possible to hear confession whilst gardening; various treatments for homesickness; and the spiritual exercises of St Ignatius.
“Spiritual exercises?” I asked. “Tell me about those.”
“One of the exercises is to look at your day with the spirit of gratitude…” Father Brian looked sideways at me. We both laughed. “Even though it’s been a challenging week, there is still much for which we can be grateful! You know that St Ignatius said that if God sends you many sufferings, it’s a sign that he has plans to make you a saint.” Father told me.
“Wow,” I whistled and sat back on my heels. “You are definitely sainthood bound, my friend. You have a camp full of energetic counselors and campers, some of whom attempted a jail break…and you are trying to keep the camp solvent while overseeing the day to day running of the camp while your administrative director is hospitalized.”
“And we have the city newspaper coming up tomorrow to do a story on the camp too.” Father giggled.
“Saint Brian for sure. You could be the patron saint of childrens’ camps. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day the camp is named after you. Camp Saint Brian?”
“Oh right!” Father Brian cackled. We both stood up and dusted ourselves off. “In the meantime, we will have St Francis watch over us,” he said as he pulled a tiny St Francis statue from his pocket. He put him in the center of the garden and anchored him in place. “Remember when you leave this earth, you can take nothing that you have received, only what you have been given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice, and courage.”
I sighed. “That’s beautiful,” I said.
“The words of St Francis himself.” Father Brian said as he smiled. We both surveyed the garden. It was charming. Freshly turned dark rich soil edged by rocks obviously collected from the lake, the dappled sunlight, and the plants gently swaying in the breeze. St Francis stood handsomely amongst it all.
“So how long do you think it will be before the garden is trampled?” I asked.
“I’ll give it three days.”
“That’s generous.” I responded and we both nodded as we continued to gaze lovingly at our completed project.