Today my church is collecting money for our youth who will be traveling to the ELCA youth gathering this week. I shall donate money.
I'm donating money for a variety of reasons, but the main one is because my going to national gatherings was one of the most formative experiences of my life.
In 1980, I went to one of the earliest Lutheran youth gatherings (we weren't the ELCA then) post Luther League years. It was held at Purdue University. We went with a larger group from Tennessee, and it was amazing. That gathering also prepared me for college in ways. We stayed in a dorm, and our days were structured like college days, with what I remember as classes, and a variety of subjects to choose from.
Equally important was meeting such a huge variety of young people, all of us at various-yet-similar stages of our faith journeys. It was one of the first times that I remember thinking, "Ah, there are people like me. I'm not some freak of nature." I can't even remember what prompted that feeling, just the relief of the feeling. And I'm not surprised. It's a typical adolescent feeling, that we're all alone, that we're strange and unlovable, that we'll never find our tribe.
In later years, I went to Global Mission Events, which also raised my consciousness and also prepared me for college. It was great to meet adults who were unlike most of the adults I met at church.
Now, as a grown up, I suspect there were many adults at my local church who were like the ones I met at these events. But back then, age groups didn't mingle much. How would I know?
So, yes, I will give some money so that our young people will have a good experience. When I was young, unknown grown ups did that for me. It's time to repay the favor.
feeling the feelings…
11 months ago