Thursday, March 11, 2010

Home Sick.

No, not homesick, as in I miss California, though sometimes when the weather gets all grey and dreary like this I do. I'm talking I'm home - sick. Ick. Stick. Snick. With a cold. Bold. Sold. Rolled. I'm into rhyming these days, can you tell? Anybody want a peanut? (Bright shiny dime for the first person to call that reference!)

And as I'm home, sick, I'm thinking about California. Not because I'm homesick, like I said, but because in about a week I'll be there. Basking in the glorious sun and warmth of California in March. Breathing deeply one of my favorite scents in all the beautiful earth (besides "Flaming June" the new perfume from Anthropologie that I'm obsessed with) - the salty, briney air of the ocean. Hearing the rhythmic crashing of waves and the "gawwing" of gulls in the background. Oh how I really do love the beach.

Now let's make some clarifications here though - would it be me if I ever did anything normal??? When I say I love the beach, I'm not talking the neon colored, people infested, 100 degree plus, show off your tan & muscles in something skimpy, kind of beach where everyone is checking everyone out. I'm talking cold, grey, rainy, isolated, craggy, rocky beaches, where you have to wear an Irish fisherman's sweater to keep the damp cold at bay, and the waves threaten to overtake the land, spraying salty air up into a mist that covers you from head to toe. Oregon beaches, Brittish beaches. You know? The kind of beaches where a lone, unidentified traveler can wash upon the shore and lay there half dead before someone rescues them, only to find true love amongst the shrouded mystery of their identity. Not the kind of beach where Jaws attacks some blonde in a yellow bikini while overstuffed mom's holding ice coolers shriek in terror. Grrrr.

Actually I had a conversation with a good friend a while back about how I love the beach. This person does not share my affinity for the beach. He just said it was pointless, to just sit there and do nothing. Afterwards I thought to myself, but he's probably thinking the kind of beaches I abhore. Of course it would be awful to sit on that kind of beach and do nothing. Egads! On the kind of beach I love, that's exactly what you're supposed to do. Just sit there, stare at the endless, bottomless sea and do nothing. Ahhhh, sweet joy!

And since where I'm going next week is Monterey CA, therefore Northern California, instead of say Venice Beach, which is decidedly SoCal in every way, shape and form, I think I should be pretty safe in finding what I'm looking for on the beach there. Which is precisely nothing. Quiet. Solitude. Tranquility amongst rocky sand and salty air. The chance to just sit, listen, breathe, and watch the tide come sweeping in and out, in and out, in an out. Just a chance to spend some time alone with my God, Him and me, on the beach. The best vacation ever.

Granted, I'm not just going there for this reason, to be alone. I'm actually going there with a group of people for a Youth Leadership Summitt. And in all honesty, though I say I will find what I'm looking for out on the beaches alone, I have a feeling that my time there will look nothing like what I picture, or what I want. Let's face it - I'll be at a resort, with a boatload of other people, and I doubt that even in March the weather will be cold or bracing, even in Northern California. So, buh-bye Fisherman's Sweater, windwhipped hair and lonely walks on the beach with my Jesus. Buh-bye romantic notions of sitting, knees pressed to my chest, and just listening to the natural sounds all around me, without a soul for miles.


But.... Hello to being surrounded by tons of other people who are there to learn more about the one area I am most passionate about right now - Youth ministry. This could be good. Though I may miss out on my pseudo-Wuthering Heights walks on the beach, I am excited that I will get to meet people who have far more experience and knowledge in this area than myself. And I want to pick their brains. I am actually really excited about going to this conference and learning more about working with youth, and hope to soak as much as I can in, both from the sessions and the people I will meet.

Especially because in the last few months I have become positively off my rocker crazy about our band of youth group kids. As well as the ones who will eventually grow up and join those ranks. But mostly for the tiny little group that I get to see and spend time with every Wednesday night. I know they think I'm a dork, and frankly, I don't care. I won't deny I'm a dork. But I will fight to prove that I am just crazy about each and every one of them. They make me laugh, they make me smile, they make me sad when I think of the things in their life that they might be facing or dealing with. I have this overflowing heart of love for them, and if I am a dork around them, it's only becaues I really don't know how to reign all that in.

They are so wonderfully special, and beautiful, and crazy cool in so many different ways. Each one of them is like this amazing bud, that hasn't quite opened up yet, and so though through the delicate, transparent petals, you can see what they might be like inside, the full potential of who they are is still being formed. And I am wicked excited to see who that will be.

I'm not just limiting this passion to the high schoolers and the junior high schoolers either. The little kids, the ones in my Sunday School class, the kindergarden and first graders, they too fill my heart with joy unbounding and bring a huge grin to my face every time I see them. I just want to spend time with them, listen to them, hear what they're thinking, what's important in their life, what makes them tick, makes them laugh, makes them sad, what worries them, what are their concerns, what are the things that make them happy. And I wonder, do they even know how much they bring me joy? I wonder. I flat out miss all these kids when I'm not at church. The weekends I go down to camp, like this weekend, I think of them, and am sad to not see them and to not spend time with them. I feel so strongly this way, I'm almost tempted to just not go, but then again, there needs to be balance, and I know that missing them like this drives me to spend more time with them outside of those four church walls, and that is important too.

So, even though my traipsing about the stormy beach alone fantasies may never see the dull grey light of day, I am sure I will be more than content in what God does bring to the table next week. I pray that it will better prepare me to build relationships and be there for the amazing kids in my life. I pray that I will learn new ways to help them grow and reach their full potential. I hope that God will move in my heart, to challenge me in what I'm doing with my life, including my own views on youth ministry. I can definitely think of one recent conversation where my viewpoints on the differences between being a youth leader and a youth pastor were more than challenged. And I am thankful that they were, because through that conversation wheels began to turn, and questions began to form regarding what I really believe verses what I really want. I only wish I could reconcile what I sense in my own mind to be right, against all that I have believed till now, patriarchal and conservative as it is. Instead I'm being challenged by my Lord to see things anew, in the glowing far off light of what He may want to do with this ever growing passion for youth ministry that lives inside me. Grrrrr, for challenges! Yaaay for challenges!!!

Even so, I am more than excited about this Summitt, and the opportunity it will afford to delve deeper into this area of ministry. Granted it's not going to be a a deserted Oregon beach, but I am confident that I will meet my Jesus there anyways, and can only hope He'll deliver on the salty air and sea monster settings. Heck, He created them, so I'm pretty sure He will.

1 comment:

Nelson said...

Oh yeah -- dime's mine -- Princess Bride -- Andre the Giant says to the short sicilian after being reprimanded for rhyming. Sorry you're sick, though!