21 Years Young

The National Convocation has brought with it many experiences that are unique to my summer journey thus far. Trying not to get too caught up in the spirituality of a freer worship style, beautiful musical harmonies, and powerful preaching, I kept in mind that I am here to represent DPF and lead a workshop introducing the internship in an attempt to diversify culturally the applicant pool. What a workshop it was.

Coming into this week, I assumed that my “Peace Talks” workshop would completely be done with youth and for youth. A youth trip to Cypress Creek Christian Church right over my workshop time ripped this assumption from me. Upon inquiry, I learned that I would actually be addressing young adults, or those individuals who are between 18 and 35.

Yikes.

I am all of 21 years of age. I am preparing for my senior year of undergraduate study. I have addressed—as a primary audience— no one older than 18 this summer about peace or social justice. Well, school always taught me that when the going gets tough the tough gets organized. The going got tough, so naturally I worriedly thought about all of the things I could—should?—talk about with a decidedly more mature crowd. Enough ideas ran through my head that all of my thoughts were paralyzed for a couple of hours.

A conversation. I decided that’s what I wanted out of the afternoon. But an element was missing for me if just a conversation took place. What worked well this summer that could fill this hole in my presentation? At every camp that I have served, I have told several stories. Aha! In the book of Luke, Jesus tells his disciples to “let the children come.” The creative juices started flowing, and a presentation began to form.

Well, my workshop time arrived, and after introducing myself I quickly said that I am 21 years old and that I had never lead a workshop with people who may be older than I before. As our conversation about biblical justice evolved, I found that I learned so much more from people sharing than I could ever hope to teach. As people shared their own experiences with justice and injustice, I found that my youth and inexperience could never provide the kind of discussion that this group warranted. Here were people who lived and experienced racism in a way I never could in America. Here were people in tune with sexism; here were people who see death regularly. Talk about an overwhelming situation for me having grown up on a relatively quiet street in suburban Indianapolis! However, as people shared, they also opened up and responded to each other—rendering me more of a mediator/observer than leader. Perfect.

One woman actually has a daughter who is 9 months old at my presentation, and as I began talking about Jesus and children, the child crawled on the ground towards me. I picked up the little girl, returned her to her mother, and proceeded to read Sandy Sasso’s interpretation of the Cain and Abel story. Poetic and story-like, yes—also very true. My workshop— however scary for me— was a success as everyone enjoyed sharing and learning. Whew!

Peace for the journey,
Blaine

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