Skip to main content

Whipper Snappers...

Did you know that young people planning to begin their first year of college this year were born in 1994?

1994?

I was a freshman in high school in 1994.  I actually wore the styles that students throw "decades parties" these days to mock.  I listened to music defined as "early rap."  I watched TV shows currently on syndication on Nick at Night.

I was young in 1994.  So what does that make me now?

Working with students these past 5 years, Dan and I have both recently begun to feel our age fairly acutely. Never before has the age gap seemed more apparent than when our adventurous young group of American summer project students invited us to midnight cycling around the city and all we could think about was Anna and Peter’s early morning wake-up music. How did we so quickly become those people? You know the type… those old, boring people, who get up everyday at 6:30 and go to bed around 9, who read books for fun, who don’t know what’s playing at the movie theater, who ask you to turn down your music, who start sentences with phrases like, "10 years ago..." or "15 years ago..."   

We are those people. We're facing the reality that we're no longer as hip or as cool as we once were.

And that's ok.

The positive part of working with young people is constantly being reminded of who we used to be.  I was reflecting on a conversation we had at English club a few years ago.  Our club consists primarily of college students, but also featured a handful of recent graduates, just starting out in the working world.  Just a year out of student life, these grads were reflecting about their years at university:  "when you're a student, anything is possible! But when you begin to work, things change."  Isn't that the truth.  But what are these things that change? Is it us? Or is it the world around us? Is it the way we understand the world around us? Most likely it's all of the above. We become the doers rather than the dreamers. We find our limits. We grow up.

Growing up feels like losing heart at times. What was black and white becomes gray and muddy. What was easy becomes difficult. What was hopeful becomes impossible. And in this process we often find that we are the very ones holding ourselves back, not the world, not our situation, not the dream. This can be a difficult pill to swallow - some choose never to take it.

But then there's that ambitious group of students, ready and willing to change the world, looking to you for hope and guidance, pedaling furiously around the city all.night.long.  

What do you tell them when you yourself know better, when you've tried it already, when you just want to go home and watch a movie instead?  

You say, "let's do this!"  

But this time, you brace yourself for the fall.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Neighbors

We saw him coming from about 10 yards away, uncontrolled lunges throwing him across the sidewalk, then small steps sending him stumbling into fence and icy overgrowth as we approached, breathing heavy, just having joked about the early winter and its influence on our running speed. “Careful,” I whispered, probably just as much to myself as my two companions. I’d forgotten it was a holiday weekend, or as most Russians joke, just another excuse to drink. The streets' stillness and relative emptiness seemed even more unusual than what we experience most early Saturday mornings and this guy’s drunken gait immediately pushed into my mind the Embassy’s weekend emergency message: “In the past, some rallies celebrating National Unity Day have been marred by violence, including targeting of non-ethnic Russians. In the last week, the U.S. Embassy has received two reports of American citizens being assaulted in what appear to be acts of anti-western/American sentiment.” Probably harmless, I …

World Youth Day

It was a remarkable experience.

Nuns in habits sharing tents in fields.


"Papa Francesco!" chanted at full volume while stampedes of young people followed the Pope-mobile.


Endless bushels of tomatoes and paté donated for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for volunteers.


Small gatherings of mini-masses constantly taking place all over the city.


Sleeping on a gym floor with a hundred of my closest friends.


People and flags stretching beyond what the the eye can see.


It was an incredible two weeks: meeting young people from all over the world, learning about faith from a different viewpoint, and dialoguing openly and earnestly with believers, seekers, and agnostics alike. Our group of volunteers primarily ran charging stations where people could recharge their phones and other devices. While they waited, we explained that we were official evangelists and our job was to talk to pilgrims about the gospel and to ask them if they had made a decision to follow Jesus.



I got to talk about …

Great-Pa

At the time, it tasted like the perfect combination of spicy salsa over scrambled eggs,just the way I liked it.
But now, I can see, it's not only enduring 8 ruckus cousins piled on the floor for the summer, but making their favorite breakfasts for them each day.
At the time, it was glimmer of the holiday decorations around the house; the lantern and lights were always bright, inviting, always welcoming to me.
But now, it's a man who fought for the right to celebrate holidays in this country whatever way we please, and embraces that right.
At the time, it was the delight of finding the extra few treats on Halloween that appeared in my pumpkin and seeing the hand which slipped them in.
But now, it's a man who is generous and kind to his children's children.
At the time, it was the joy of walking from Holly Hillsto have candy with Grandpa after school instead of going home to carrots and apples.
But now, it's a man who enjoys life and enjoys making life more enjoyable.
At the…