Wednesday, June 29, 2005
SUMMIT 2005: Thoughts and junk
It's raining outside, and I don't feel like doing any work, so -- eh. Time to reminisce.
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP: I could start on a lovely little chat about how I've been reading a lot, lot, lot of books as of late -- Messy Spirituality; Blue Like Jazz; The Ragamuffin Gospel; Wrestling With God -- that have begun to cause a paradigm shift in how I think about God, my life here on planet earth as a Christ follower, discipleship, the nature of sin and redemption, morality, and the like...and I am insanely comfortable with doing just that. After 33+ years (more than 2/3 of which have been spent in and out of various religious institutions), I am starting to finally feel comfortable with God, how I relate to Christ, and what my brothers and sisters are supposed to be like. Facades be damned; let's be real and be ourselves -- the failed, flawed, and struggling yet beautiful souls God created.
But, nope. Ain't gonna talk about that.
So -- there were three of these monkeys (translation: teenage boys) that we carried from Compass to this church camp we kept calling "the triplets" because they were (a) inseparable [except for when they were scoping out the girls], (b) all rooming together, and (c) just identically goofy in their attitudes. The same triplets who are all under the age of 17, and who collectively smoke like a bunch of lunatics.
Because these are teenage boys who have an attention span of about .017 seconds, and because none of them are what could be called "typical church kids" -- THANK GOD -- the guy who is the Family Minister at Compass made a deal with them: while we're at camp, focus on the group activities, and stay engaged, and once a day we'll leave campus to go smoke -- because smoking at a church-affiliated school during a summer camp populated by minors would cause some people to go into a complete hissy fit. Plus it was kind of against the rules -- and sorta illegal -- so we had to leave.
Now, the FM was struggling with this decision. Partly because it WAS illegal, partly because he felt it might make seem to be advocating this behavior, but also because -- in all honesty -- our kids were like NONE of the other ones there. Rag-tag, smelly, grungy and all with hearts that have nothing but compassion; Dylan is probably one of the most gentle, loving souls I have ever encountered. but they weren't clean -- the clean-cut, presentable kind that he was used to working with, and who really made the camp seem very vanilla (and yes, you can take that to imply a lack of racial diversity as well).
I applauded his decision, and I still do.
We were able to connect with these kids on a REAL level, one striped away from all pretense and bluster. We didn't try to fit them into a pre-described Christian mold. We let them be them, and they gained some trust of the adults who were there (me, Bry and Ry). I truly can't put it into words, but there was something there that bonded us. No emotional, last-day-of-camp "coMIT your SAW-HAL to GAH-WAD" bonding. This was connecting on a human level with these kids, letting them be them, letting us be us (and yes, we DID talk to -- not preach to; but talk to -- them about why we don't advocate their smoking), and showing care for them as people that can translate to them trusting us to talk to them about their souls.
C'mon -- Jesus probably hugged lepers. The least I can do is hang out with a smelly 16-year-old who needs a smoke break.