A Dusty Picnic for One

girl-on-cliffIt was the summer between my senior year in high school and freshman year in college. To earn money for college, I took a job as a third cook at a Girl Scout camp, located in the mountains above the Pacific Ocean.

On one of my days off, I found myself sitting at the end of a dusty intersection where the camp road met the main road that connected down the mountain to Highway 1 along the coast of Northern California. I found the perfect place for a picnic under the madrone and redwood trees.

Highway 1 would bring Jim Hoekstra, my high school buddy and guitar friend. Tall and athletic with thick eyebrows and piercing brown eyes, my innocent heart had pinned a lot of hopes on meeting him for a picnic that day. I had written him a couple times that summer. He wrote back and said he had a day off. Could he come visit?

I was hoping something would come of our friendly correspondence and the anticipated event. Would he grow into someone more than a pal that shared new guitar chords and the same high school? My very active imagination could picture some picturesque scenarios that day.

I sat in the midday sun, flicking hungry mosquitoes. Noon passed, then one o’clock, two and three with a picnic basket still full. Fat gulls fly overhead, up from the Pacific Ocean which was located at the bottom of the steep mountainside where the camp was located. Still I waited. Hope springs eternal in the human heart, as the saying goes.

At sunset I put the sack lunch back in my backpack and made the uphill climb on the sand encrusted road to return to camp. I dreaded my fellow staff members asking questions about my “date.”  One more time I’d failed in the romance department. Did I read too much into the letter he’d sent me suggesting the get together? Was it even a date? Did he find someone else to hang out who was prettier, wittier or more serious? He was sort of a brooding intellectual type and maybe I simply wasn’t his match?

God says in his word that hope doesn’t disappoint and that’s what I love about God.  A young man did disappoint my waiting heart. I was someone who had very few dates in high school and I had put too much expectancy into this one picnic. But the one who stood guard over my emotions and future relationships didn’t disappoint. Yes, I would experience a few more heartbreaks, but eventually I would find found the man who would take permanent residence in my heart.

I wish I could have told my 18-year old mind that it really didn’t matter if I was stood up. There would be much joy ahead. He would bring the future to me, full of thirty nine years of marriage, four children and six grandchildren. My future never needed to hinge on one summer picnic.

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