Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Crazy Good Line of Work

It’s 10 pm and here I am with my friend and co-worker on the front lawn scrubbing down baby oil- mud- and paint-encrusted tarps. I’ve come to terms with the fact that no matter where I live, the neighbors will always suspect that I’m a little crazy in my line of work. I wonder if any of them are catching a glimpse out of their kitchen windows as they clean their evening dishes. This is my glorious job!

You see, my youth group has just finished its end of the year bash, which brings the Indian Festival of Holi to life for 50 suburban Protestant teenagers. Imagine the excitement of taking handfuls of vibrant dried paint and hurling red, magenta, teal,and lime paint at your friends. We are a living canvas and everyone joyfully decorates each other’s clothes, hair, and faces with the beautiful hues of spring. We are a sight to be seen.

We form a circle and hold hands. We talk about our friend Jesus, the radical, outspoken revolutionary who was betrayed by his own friends. We remember what it feels like to be betrayed by our own friends. We remember Jesus died and then after three days rose again. I explain that the Festival of Holi celebrates resurrection, a common theme in Christianity and Hinduism, life conquering death, in the turning of the melted snow into water that will bring new life with spring. We recall moments of our own personal resurrection. We take some time to be still and silent. 

I look around the circle and wonder if there are any present who cannot relate to resurrection, who have been trapped by circumstances in their lives and never tasted this hope. I ask the 8th graders to step forward. We all lay hands on them and bless each of them individually as they will make the transition into high school. We shed tears, embrace each other, and move about joyfully on a Holy Spirit high.

People are seeking a connection with the divine, sacred moments that offer healing to our weary bodies and hearts- whether physical, emotional, spiritual- the church is called to a healing ministry.

When the tarps and myself are cleaned, I sit down with my cup of tea in my comfy chair, I review my end of day e-mails, and I see an e-mail from one of the parent volunteers from tonight’s bash who has been somewhat skeptical of the changes in the youth ministry. Instead of critique, I find a wonderful surprise. The e-mail is thanking me for the opportunity to serve, “I must admit this wasn’t something that I was really looking forward to doing today, but on the way home with six very talkative teen boys, I guess I realized something good is going on and I needed to be reminded of it.” I pause and take in this moment of appreciation. Tonight, as I wrap my arms around my two daughters and close my eyes, I am not thinking about what I have left undone. I am feeling thankful. My mind begins to trace the moments of the day, when I felt the energy drain out of me, when I felt most alive. This is something that I ask our youth to do on spiritual practice nights at youth group when we go through the Ignatian Examen. I place my hand over my heart, and I thank God.

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