On the dance floor, both children and adults twirled, clapped, and jumped to the beat of the music. People laughed and lights flashed. Dance night is always a fun time at Joni and Friends! But if you were to watch the dance floor you would notice a young boy weave his way through the people, make his way out the doors, and an older kid follow close behind.
Christopher is eleven years old and no other human being is quite like him. When he was born, four areas in his DNA were switched. The chances of this ever happening in a person are so improbable that it is expected no individual in all of history has had, nor any individual in the future ever will have, the same thing happen to them. God, who is the author of life, wonderfully created Christopher (Psalm 139:14) and has written a beautiful poem for his life (Ephesians 2:10). What blows my mind is that I was included in the poem of Christopher’s life. You’ve probably already guessed it, but Christopher and I were paired up for the camp week at Family Retreat.
I was excited to go to Family Retreat this year! This was my fifth year and Christopher’s seventh. Christopher and I had most likely passed each other at camp before, but neither one of us remembers it, so this was really our first time ever meeting each other. Christopher doesn’t talk a whole lot; in that way he is a whole lot like me. However, just because we don’t talk, that does not mean we don’t listen.
Christopher loves stories and songs! One of his particularly favorite songs is “Old McDonald.” I would sing and he would tell me what animal (or everyday object like crayons) he wanted me to sing about. Also, I introduced him to stories like “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” “The Three Little Pigs,” and “Little Red Riding Hood.” He would ask me again and again to tell him these stories.
But perhaps more than songs or stories, Christopher loves fans. Ceiling fans, fans in the motors of soda machines, fans in air conditioner units, handheld fans, big fans, small fans, fans in places you didn’t even know fans existed. If there was a fan to be found, you can bet Christopher would find it. And right outside the dining hall there was a beautifully big air conditioner unit fan to be watched, so Christopher and I would make our way out there to watch the fan spin. We were joined by some other campers who also enjoyed fans, and together we watched the fan blades turn around and around. You could find us many times throughout the week sitting by that fan.
Another thing Christopher loves is crayons. We would routinely find ourselves in the craft room searching for crayons. We would line up the crayons along the floor and Christopher would run his hand over the top of them to move them across the carpet, he would then watch closely as the colors moved across his eyesight. He would give a small laugh of joy that could melt anyone’s heart.
As an artist, I appreciate how gorgeous all colors are, and I believe that when God created color He knew that Christopher would love colors too.
In many ways Christopher and I are very much alike: we are both quiet, we listen and watch, and we both love color. I could not have asked for a better friend than Christopher to spend the camp week with. It was a joy and a pleasure to hang out with him and his family and I look forward to seeing them again next year.
On the night of the dance, as Christopher left the dance floor, I followed him. We soon found ourselves at a tire swing outside. Christopher’s brother Alex and his mom joined us at the swing, and I began to push Christopher and Alex around on the tire. Alex and Christopher laughed just as the people on the dance floor laughed. It was getting late and it was time for us to say goodnight and part ways. I said goodbye to Christopher and his family and began to walk away. As Christopher walked with his mom and brother, he began to cry.
The next day Christopher’s mom told me that was the first time in the years they had been at camp that Christopher had ever cried for his STM. I’m thankful I could be his STM and friend.