Monday, March 16, 2009

life's a beach

I was in Newcastle this past weekend for our annual youth weekend at Greenhill. I was last there 4 years ago, and it felt very full-circle to be there again.

-Canoeing with the young people with intense wind blowing against us, creating waves on the normally placid lake. It took serious effort to make it to the island that was our goal, but the constant cheering of the kids and shouting of "paddle, paddle, paddle!" kept us all going. I also learned a lot from the experience: when you looked out on the turbulent water with waves working against you, you lost momentum and became a bit overwhelmed, and then the waves began to take you where you didn't want to go. But, when you just focused on the grueling but constant rhythym of rowing, looking only at the wee bit of water you were trying to push behind you with each stroke, it became possible, bit by bit, to go foward. As we say in seminary, "that'll preach!"

-Talking to the young people about mission, and watching as they began to talk to each other about it and what fears keep them from doing mission every day. For a moment, we as leaders were able to step back to let them teach one another, with the younger ones raising questions and the older ones passing on their wisdom.

-The enthusiasm of a smiley, awkward, hyper teenage boy.
-Walking on the beach and looking out at the grey-blue sea.

-Kids and leaders alike letting go of their emotions for a bit, and during the weekend letting whatever's been building up inside of them spill out, leaving them vulnerable, but closer to healing and more a community. There's something miraculous about youth retreats that can tap into the deep "stuff" that every day busyness tries to ignore. It really is a time to grieve, to laugh, to sing, to share and to feel deeply.

-Collecting smooth, well-travelled blue, green and white glass on the beach and putting it with glass I've found on beaches in the past.

-Cleaning my room and sleeping better for it. It was the first night I've been able to crack my window, letting in a refreshing but not freezing breeze to lull me to sleep.

1 comment:

John Edward Harris said...

Your photography and prose are always outstanding.